Renovation & Design

Assorted advice to make autumn yardwork less yucky

After carving a pumpkin, spray the inside with 50/50 bleach and water to slow down the formation of mould.

Stuff wet boots and shoes with dry, crumpled-up newspaper. The ink in the paper will absorb the moisture and any odours.

Before cleaning out the gutters, attach a long, bendable PVC pipe to a shop vacuum. In many cases, you will be able to clean the gutters without standing on a ladder and risking injury.

Raking leaves onto a tarp can make fall cleanup much easier. When the tarp is full, pick it up and dump the contents into a garbage bin.

Mulch leaves by grinding the matter into bits — this will reduce the size of your cleanup load, and you will be left with compost material or garden fertilizer. If you do not wish to vacuum the shredded leaves, you can let them sit and feed the soil. If you have oak trees, rake the leaves, because oak leaves decompose slower than maple or elm leaves.

To remove tree sap from hands, wipe them with rubbing alcohol.

To remove tree sap on clothing, wipe the area with mayonnaise. Spot-clean with Dawn dish soap and water. Launder as usual, and air dry to ensure the spot is not visible.

Regularly clean bird feeders by soaking and scrubbing the feeders with 50/50 vinegar and water.

Clean dirty hands after yardwork by scrubbing them with fresh coffee grounds and cooking oil. The dirt will disappear, and your hands will feel soft.

Protect metal patio furniture by applying a thin coat of car wax over the surface to prevent rust.

Protect outdoor plumbing fixtures by purchasing slip-on pipe fittings available at hardware and department stores.

Experiment to see if your deck needs resealing. Pour water onto the surface; if the colour changes to dark and the deck absorbs the water, the deck needs resealing.

This is a great time of year to wash or repaint the exterior of your entrance doors. This is the first impression your guests have when they visit.

Clean out recycling and trash cans before winter. The smell is often unbearable, and they should be kept as clean as possible.

Check out your roof from the ground level. Use binoculars to get a closer look, or if you are able and can do so safely, climb on up for a better view. Look for missing, damaged, or loose shingles. If your roof is flat, you may need to remove leaves and debris.

Trim trees, bushes, shrubs and other plants in your garden. Check them all, and if necessary, trim them back. Look for any trees that may be getting too close to power lines or your roof, which may cause damage.

Have a great suggestion or tip? Please send an email at:

Note: Every user assumes all risks of injury or damage resulting from the implementation of any suggestions in this column. Test all products on an inconspicuous area first.


Reena Nerbas is a popular motivational presenter for large and small groups; check out her website:



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