Prepare for autumn

Now that schools are preparing for a new educational year, autumn and winter are not far away. It is a good time to take stock of this year's successes and failures.

It is also the time to sure everything is ready for lawn renovations, autumn clear-ups, boiler firings and snow clearance.

Lawns Areas that have been subject to heavy wear in the spring and summer may be looking tired and thin. Weeds are likely to have established while the grass has been under stress and there may be signs of disease. Remove weeds where they cannot be tolerated. Spike worn areas, water and feed. Source and order new turf and/or appropriate grass seed for use on badly worn areas. Check the blades and tines on scarifiers and aerators — and order replacements for any that are damaged or missing. Finalise plans for new grass areas.

Autumn preparations Check over equipment needed for autumn clearance work. Inspect the condition of sweepers and vacuum collectors, paying attention to brushes and zippered bags, and seek spare parts if necessary. Stock red/white incident tape ready to rope off any areas subjected to gale damage. Check brushcutters and ensure that there is a supply of nylon line. Consider using biodegradable line — the amount of line that wears or breaks during work is surprising, so biodegradable lines can make sense. Check chainsaws, and update staff training or ensure a list of local, qualified and approved contractors is to hand.

Greenhouses and conservatories While it nice to think we might enjoy an Indian summer this year, you never know when cold nights will strike. It is wise to check heating systems are in working order as early as possible. If necessary, book a service for the boiler, thermostats and control systems. Ensure piping is lagged and that insulation materials are ready to use. Make sure tender plants that have been outdoors can be brought inside quickly. Stock up on hessian sacking, bubble polythene and anything else needed for wrapping up the more tender subjects that have to stay outdoors throughout the year.

Ready for winter Inspect spreading equipment, make sure shovels and brushes are in good condition and check out the prices for early ordering grit and de-icing compounds. Check coolants and change or top-up as needed in all vehicles that are required during the winter period.

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