Laura Gaskill, Houzz Contributor
With the air turning crisp, leaves falling and farmer's markets overflowing with squash, gourds, apples and potatoes, October is a time to celebrate the harvest -- and button up the home and garden for the winter ahead. From raking leaves to sharpening knives, see which of these 13 to-dos make your list this month.
1. Rake leaves. Clearing away leaves from lawns is hard work, so be sure to choose a rake that feels good to you. Plastic rakes don't last as long, but they are lightweight -- which helps if you get fatigued easily (or have a lot of leaves to contend with). Instead of bagging all of the leaves you collect, try chopping some with your mower and using them as mulch in flower beds, or add them to a compost pile.
2. Clean gutters and downspouts. Schedule rain-gutter cleaning for after most of the leaves have fallen. Inspect gutters and downspouts for cracks and loose parts, and make repairs as needed.
3. Put up storm windows and doors. If you use storm windows or doors and haven't put them up yet, now is the time.
4. Decorate outdoor spaces. Fall flowers, pumpkins and gourds are versatile enough to work throughout the season. If you enjoy decorating for Halloween, get out that frightful decor.
5. Shut off exterior faucets and store hoses for winter. Disconnect, drain and roll hoses before storing them indoors for the winter. Shut off the water supply to exterior faucets to prevent frozen pipes.
6. Sharpen knives. The holidays are around the corner -- be sure your knives are ready to take on all of that cooking by having them professionally sharpened now.
7. Launder and iron holiday linens. Get ahead of the holiday crunch and prep your linens -- roll up the freshly laundered and ironed linens on old wrapping paper tubes to prevent wrinkles.
8. Decorate with layers of warmth. Get toasty indoors with cozy throws, thicker curtains and soft rugs. If you haven't done so yet, swap out your bedding for thicker blankets and fluffy duvets.
9. Check safety devices. Test all smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in the house, and replace batteries as needed. Check the expiration date on the kitchen fire extinguisher and replace it if needed.
10. Swap seasonal clothes. Depending on where you live, September can be a fickle month -- but now that October has arrived, it's time to settle into more predictable fall weather. Gather up stray sandals and lightweight clothing that you don't plan to wear again until spring, and pack it away. Also look over your fall and winter clothes, and note anything you will need to replace this year.
11. Start an art wall for all of those school projects. Corral those stacks of paper coming home from school with a dedicated space for display. A large bulletin board or magnet board makes hanging art and papers easy. Or you could try art wire with bulldog clips, or simply tape art to the wall with colorful masking tape.
12. Start planning or making holiday gifts. I know it seems like the holidays are still a long way off, but that's exactly why it's smart to start thinking about gifts now. Especially if you have hopes of making anything by hand! At the very least, start a gift list that you can add to as you think up ideas.
13. Savor your favorite fall traditions. Is there a local harvest festival you'd love to attend, a favorite pumpkin patch or apple orchard to visit? Mark some dates on your calendar so you don't miss out.