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It doesn't matter what the season, there is always an ever-growing list of chores on every homeowner's to-do list. Sometimes, there just isn't the time. If you're swamped with work, family and life in general and know it just isn't possible to get to every task on your list, take the short-cut route this fall and pick up the slack next year to get back on track.

That said, here are five essential fall tasks that you absolutely should make time for in order to protect your lawn, garden and home for the upcoming season:

1. Fertilize your lawn before the first frost to give grass the nutrients needed for the frosty winter months and add mulch to your flowerbeds. No time to prune trees and shrubs? Don't worry. Most shrubs and trees will be just fine waiting for spring for a good pruning. In fact, pruning too close to the arrival of sub-zero temperatures can actually damage plant life as cut branches will not have enough time to harden.

2. Clean your eavestroughs and downspouts. With trees losing their foliage and plenty of windy days, your gutters are filling up quickly with leaves and debris. It's important to ensure that rainwater can flow easily through your eaves before freezing temperatures arrive. A blockage could mean water spilling down your home, causing roof and siding damage, dangerous ice build up and wood rot. Also ensure that water is flowing a safe distance from your home's foundation.

3. Drain outside water lines and faucets. This is definitely one fall chore you don't want to skip. Turn off the shutoff valve inside your home, open the spigots to drain any water left in the lines and properly store your hoses for the season.

4. Have your HVAC system serviced. You can hire a professional or do it yourself. Change the filter. Carefully vacuum any dust and debris. After you've turned your system on, check your burner flames – they should be blue and burning evenly.

5. If you have a woodburning fireplace, have a chimney sweep come in to clean it out and check for safety. This is also a good time to check the batteries and functionality of your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.

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  Marion, is now like family to me. She understands me and is patient and thorough with explanation of the details.

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