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Patio Maintenance in Fall
by: Ross MacIver

Ahh fall! Crisp air, beautiful colors, and -- oh no! -- winter preparation! It's true that fall brings many household maintenance tasks, but the pleasant weather makes it enjoyable to be outside, and the time spent maintaining your patios and yards will add years to their life span.

Patio maintenance is particularly important in the fall. Patios which are made of wood should be treated with a waterproofing substance to protect them from the winter weather. This is not a big project -- it can be done in an hour or two for an average sized patio. The time spent doing this will protect the wood and prevent costly repair bills in the springtime.

Moisture is the big enemy of wood, so anything that can trap moisture should be removed. This means sweeping it from time to time to get rid of the falling leaves and to remove debris from between the floorboards of the patio. This can be done with a screwdriver or other small object. Debris which remains between the floorboards holds moisture and quickly rots the foundation frame underneath.

If your patio needs a coat of paint, the fall is a good time to do it. The paint will give the wood more protection during the wintertime. Just make sure not to leave the job too late in the season -- the weather should be clear and dry on the painting day for maximum effectiveness.

If you have plants on your patio they must be prepared for winter. Perennials can be protected with sackcloth and placed in an area where they are less exposed to the elements. Annuals should be removed from their beds and in the soil can be re-fertilized.

Patio furniture should be examined and repaired if necessary, and should be stored in a protected area. Leading patio furniture outside during the winter is bad for both furniture and patio -- moisture will accumulate under the legs and stain or rot the patio floor.

Doing all this work in the fall will extend the life of your patio. In addition, there will be fewer patio jobs to be done in the springtime. All you will need to do is bring out the furniture and replant your plants.

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