Back-to-school time can quickly become a blur of paperwork piling up in the house and leaves mounting in the yard. These tips can get your home and lawn in top shape for fall.


  • SAME PAGE. Use one online calendar for the whole family, assigning each family member a different color, so everyone can log on and see all of the appointments.
  • TALL ORDER. Have a to-do list—in a paper or electronic notebook—and review it daily to determine two to three things to accomplish each day. Use an action folder to store papers that need follow-up.
  • MAILMOUNTAIN. Mail should be sorted at least three times per week into categories, such as bills to pay, paperwork to read or forms to fill out. Each piece should be opened, thrown away, recycled, followed up on or given to a spouse. For the latter, create a folder for your spouse’s mail.
  • BUSY BEE. Multi-tasking mothers should make a mom’s resource binder that is separated into categories of paperwork, such as children’s annual school forms that need to be changed in and out each year.


  • CLOSET CLUTTER. Reverse clothes hangers so the hooks are facing back-to-front. Once the piece is worn and laundered, place it back on the hanger the correct way. In six months, consider giving away or selling clothes that are still hanging back-to-front.
  • SMART ART. Display one item of a child’s artwork for seven days and keep only the favorites. Take a photo of your children posed by their art project, so there is a permanent record of their creativity.
  • COLOR-CODE. Cover wreaths in clear dry-cleaner bags and hang them on the wall of the storage area. Smaller decorations can be placed in labeled tubs that are color-coordinated with the season of the year, such as orange for fall/Halloween.
  • FAMILY FUNCTION. Engage the entire family to find 25 items to throw away and 25 items to donate. Develop the urge to purge possessions by putting each item to the test: Is it beautiful? Useful? Loved? Rule of thumb: If you haven’t worn it, read it, listened to it or adored it during the past year, it needs a new home.


  • FALL CLEANING.Water is the biggest enemy for the concrete of your home’s foundation, driveway, patio and sidewalks, so proper drainage away from these structures is important. Make sure all drainage paths and swales are clear before fall. Clean all sediment out of the gutters and prune any dead limbs from trees.
  • LAWN REVIVAL. Fall is one of the best times to seed. Use a blended premium seed, as different areas and soil types have a propensity for one seed over another. Fall also is an excellent time to re-sod your lawn, but remember watering sod is critical at any time of year.
  • WATERWORKS. Because we had a dry winter, followed by one of the driest summers on record, maintaining good water supply to trees and plants is very important. After planting new trees, a good soaking is best—saturating and almost floating the root ball—then discontinue watering for three days.

Keith and Drew Goding, HARDWORK YARDWORK

  • CLEAN SWEEP. In preparation for fall, bring hoses inside, remove soil from all planters that lack drainage, and mulch planter beds to help plants retain moisture and to provide insulation from severe cold.
  • LAWN MATTERS. Fall is the best time to address lawn needs—aerate, de-thatch, compost, over-seed and fertilize lawns. Waiting until spring to improve a lawn is too late.
  • LEAF REMOVAL. Remove fallen leaves as quickly as possible from lawns or grind them up with a mulching mower to serve as natural compost. Also remove acorns from lawns as soon as possible to prevent increasing the acidity of the soil.