• Things to know before buying a charming old character home
    Posted on 29 September 2023

    Things to know before buying a charming old character home

    Even though new homes are growing in popularity, older homes are still the dream for many homeowners. An “old home” tends to refer to properties built earlier than 1940 and can conjure images of farmhouses, cottages and country homes all oozing with character and history.

    If you want a charming property with lots of space and an outbuilding or two, then you will definitely be looking at older properties. They are usually found in or around villages and their unique appearance represents a bygone era of architecture and artisans’ skills.

    The older a building is, the more careful you need to be when looking to buy.

    Houses with thatched roofs are beautiful and usually a favourite with house hunters due to their appearance. It is important to remember though that the thatch makes them more prone to fires, which will considerably boost up your insurance costs, as they are not expensive to repair.

    If you do want to buy a home with a thatched roof, then it is important you get the condition of it checked very thoroughly. These roofs can last up to 90 years when done well, but they are getting harder to replace as less and less people have the skills to thatch a roof these days.

    Listed Buildings
    A building that has been listed is most likely of historical interest and so is protected in this country. There are many different reasons why a building can be listed, including: rarity, age, construction method or architectural merit. They could have also been the home of a famous person or the scene of a very important event.

    If a building is very old, then it is quite likely to be listed – there are currently over 500,000 listed buildings in the UK and most of them were built before 1840. Though it can be harder to make alterations to a listed building, it isn’t impossible. Alterations and extensions can happen if you are given consent, and your local council will be able to guide you on what exactly will require that consent.

    Conversions of older buildings are very popular, and these days you see homes that have been converted from old schools, train stations and barns all over the place. Barn conversions are the most popular, but they are not cheap, and require planning permission.

    Once you have a building ready to convert, you need to be prepared to pay around 50% of the property’s value to turn it into the home of your dreams. The best thing to do is to try and find an old building that has already been converted ready to sell, then you will have the best of both worlds.

    Target Areas
    Once you have found an old building that you like, there are a number of areas you need to look out for before committing to anything:

    Roof – Look at the roof when you are stood outside the house and check for any missing slates or tiles.

    Walls – Cracks in walls are always a bad sign as they could be caused by subsidence and could end up very costly.

    Pipes and Drains – Something that can lead to subsidence is having dodgy drains and sewers. Instead of the plastic pipes newer houses have, old houses have clay pipes, which are more susceptible to damage.

    Damp – Rising damp is quite common and can cause a lot of damage and be very expensive to fix. Stains on the wall and damaged plaster will give away how bad a damp problem is.

    As long as you have all the necessary surveys done, and you’ve checked the house thoroughly, there’s no reason why you can’t enjoy your beautiful old home!
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  • Create a home ‘snug’ in 9 steps
    Posted on 29 September 2023

    Create a home ‘snug’ in 9 steps

    We want to show you that whatever your home is like, you can always create a toasty, warm and cosy space for yourself to relax in, all while adding a little bit of the infamous ‘hygge’ factor to your abode.

    So, sit back as we take you through 9 super-simple tips to help you craft your ideal ‘snug’:

    1.     Add a throw to wrap yourself up in
    You can use a cosy throw on the end of your sofa in order to add a little bit of colour and texture to the room and, let’s face it, it’s perfect for those impromptu naps.

    2.     Choose your ‘comfy’ chair wisely
    One feature that really does serve as the centrepiece in one’s snug is the seating. And choosing the right kind of seating is the biggest decision you’ll make, as it really is the main ingredient. So, whether you choose an upright leather armchair, a beautifully engulfing sofa or even if you opt to go for an old-school classic like the bean bag, just make sure you choose whichever is right for you.

    3.     Feature your fireplace
    We’re putting it out there now in writing – there may not be anything else in existence cosier and more relaxing than watching a beautifully flickering log-fire in the evenings. The real thing is preferable for obvious reasons, but if your home doesn’t feature a working fireplace then you can still make a feature out of it by putting candles in the centre, adding fairy lights in around the mantelpiece or even filling up the space with attractive wooden logs.

    4.     Light a candle… or four
    By adding a scented candle to your home, it will not only make the rooms smell lovely, but it will also cast a nice warm glow that sets whatever atmosphere and tone you’re in the mood for. You could even go crazy and pick out a bunch of different ones to make your ‘snug’ a hygge paradise – full of low candlelight flickering away. Perfect.

    5.     Introduce textures to add a bit of character
    By introducing different textures to a room’s furnishings, it will help make your snug space feel even more intimate and at the same time it adds a little more character and personality to the area.

    6.     Keep out the draughts
    Dark winter nights can often feel cold, so it’s a good idea to add heavy curtains to your room to help keep out any draughts Winter might throw your way.

    7.     Bring on the colour palette
    With all of this grey weather outside, the colour you choose inside your home becomes even more important. With just a few coloured accessories you can visually add warmth to a room through additions like cushions, flowers and ornaments. It can really make a big difference.

    8.     Keep the flooring nice and soft
    If you have carpet, you’ll probably be pretty sorted here but if you have wooden or laminate flooring you can either switch to a luscious deep-pile carpet or simply add in a large rug to provide some luxurious softness.

    9.     Make up your very own mini library
    Whether you choose a classic antique bookcase, a cheap but practical flatpack alternative or even just create a pile of books next to your seating, a snug is the best place for a good read.

    Creating your cosy space for just ‘you’ could be your saving grace in the winter months and might even help sell your home when the time comes.

    Remember, the season demands cosy and warm staging to make your home as inviting as possible. For more ideas on improving your home life – and making your home more sellable in the process – get in touch!
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  • Spooky Savings Alert: Pinkertons' Frighteningly Fantastic Halloween Offer!
    Posted on 27 September 2023

    Spooky Savings Alert: Pinkertons' Frighteningly Fantastic Halloween Offer!

    Don't Miss Out on Our Ghoulishly Good Deal – Save £360!

    Halloween is just around the corner, and while most of us are preparing for spooky decorations and sweet treats, Pinkertons is here with a treat that's even better than sugar! If you've been thinking about selling your property, now is the perfect time to take the plunge. Why, you ask? Because Pinkertons is brewing up a special Halloween offer that will send shivers down your spine — in a good way!

    No Tricks, Only Treats
    At Pinkertons, we're all about treating our clients right. That's why we're excited to announce our exclusive Halloween offer for anyone looking to list their property for sale with us before the stroke of midnight on the 31st October 2023. We promise you, there are no tricks up our sleeves, just treats galore!

    What's in Store for You?
    When you choose Pinkertons to sell your property this Halloween season, you'll be in for a spooktacular deal that's too good to resist:

    100% Discount on Marketing Fees: That's right! We're giving you a chilling £360 in savings by waiving our marketing fees completely. Your wallet will thank you, and you can use that extra cash to enjoy the festivities.

    • Free Property Portal Listing: Your property deserves the spotlight, and with Pinkertons, it'll shine on all the major property portals, getting the attention it deserves.

    • Free Board: Let the neighbourhood know your property is up for grabs with a striking "For Sale" board, on the house!

    • Free Professional Photography: High-quality photos can make all the difference when selling a property. We'll send in our expert photographer to capture your home's best angles.

    • Free Brochure Design with Bespoke Copywriting: A beautifully designed brochure with compelling copy can make your property stand out. We'll create a bespoke brochure that tells your property's story in style.

    Why Choose Pinkertons?

    At Pinkertons, we've been helping homeowners navigate the property market for years. Our team of dedicated professionals is committed to making the selling process as smooth and stress-free as possible. With our Halloween offer, you'll not only save money but also receive top-notch service that's second to none.

    How to Grab this Boo-tiful Offer
    Getting your hands on this fang-tastic Halloween offer is as easy as pumpkin pie! Simply get in touch with Pinkertons before 31st October 2023, and let us know you're ready to list your property for sale. We'll take care of the rest, ensuring you enjoy all the treats this offer has to offer.

    Don't Let this Offer Haunt You

    Time is of the essence! Halloween will come and go, and so will this spooktacular offer. Don't let it vanish into thin air like a ghostly apparition. Contact Pinkertons today, and let's get started on selling your property with all the treats and none of the tricks. It's a Halloween deal that's too good to pass up!

    Remember, at Pinkertons, we're all about making your property dreams come true, and this Halloween, we're brewing up some real estate magic just for you. Happy Halloween and may your property sale be as sweet as the candy in your trick-or-treat bag!

    Contact Us Today:
    Phone: 028 91 479393
    Email: info@pinkertonsni.com
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  • When was the last time you reviewed your rental income? You could be losing hundreds of pounds per month!
    Posted on 27 September 2023

    When was the last time you reviewed your rental income? You could be losing hundreds of pounds per month!

    In recent times, the clamour surrounding rising rents has been hard to ignore. Ards and North Down recently earned a runner-up spot in Propertypal's list of top places in Northern Ireland for rental price growth in the last quarter, with average rents soaring to £828 per month. While this may seem crystal clear for new rentals, the scenario becomes murkier when you're dealing with existing tenancies.

    Often, letting agents tend to handle their existing property portfolio differently from new business. When onboarding a new client, it's common practice to engage with the manager and establish rental rates based on recent comparable transactions. However, when it comes to renewals, the dynamics change. Property managers, with an eye on preserving year-on-year tenancies, often come into play.

    The typical approach in such cases is to increase rents in increments of £25, in line with the Retail Price Index (RPI), which has remained below 3% for most of the last decade. This pattern can persist year after year, potentially causing significant rental disparities. In some instances, properties are even re-marketed at these lower rates. Landlords may have inadvertently settled into a complacent mindset, setting their expectations lower, especially if they are overseas and out of touch with Northern Ireland's property trends.

    Certainly, there is value in retaining good, long-term tenants who care for your investment. However, even the most excellent tenants find themselves bearing the brunt of escalating prices in this unbalanced market, often opting to stay put due to limited alternatives. Notably, void periods are at an all-time low, reducing the disincentive to negotiate rent increases. For properties where rents haven't seen adjustments in several years, particularly in high-demand segments of the market, substantial monthly uplifts of up to £300 are not uncommon.

    At Pinkertons, we approach rent renewals with a different perspective. We consider the latest market data and ensure that if your property is up for re-letting, it is listed at the most competitive price achievable—not just at the rate your previous tenant paid.

    In this evolving rental landscape, it's crucial for both landlords and tenants to stay informed and make decisions that align with their long-term goals. For more insights into the rental market or personalised guidance, feel free to reach out to Colin Dill, our Senior Tenancy Manager, at colin.dill@pinkertonsni.com.

    Navigating the rental market is an intricate process, but with the right knowledge and approach, it can be a win-win situation for both landlords and tenants alike.
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  • Tips to stop your property chain unravelling
    Posted on 22 September 2023

    Tips to stop your property chain unravelling

    They say that moving to a new house is one of life’s most stressful events but being stuck in an immoveable chain comes a close second. Hold-ups occur for any number of reasons: incomplete paperwork, difficulties securing a loan, or a buyer pulling out on the strength of a survey. So, what steps can be taken to avoid snarl-ups and stop a sale unravelling?

    Keep communicating
    The faster you can move towards exchanging contracts, the better. Keep in touch with your solicitor, estate agent and mortgage broker and make regular progress checks. If you’re organised, the process should be quicker and there is less chance of things going wrong.

    Vet the contestants
    Serious buyers will have someone lined up to purchase their place, a mortgage offer agreed in principle and a solicitor waiting in the wings – so sound them out with a few politely-detailed questions. If a buyer is coy about their personal or financial circumstances, get your agent to probe further.

    Serve a notice to complete
    If you’ve exchanged contracts but your buyer is dithering, a notice will set a deadline for the other side to have everything signed off within ten days. Failure to do so means they run the risk of losing their deposit.

    Break the chain
    The fewer parties there are in the chain, the less likely it is for the deal to flounder, so consider moving into temporary accommodation or even renting. A short-term let could actually save you cash – the increased buying power you get often more than offsets the cost of renting.

    Drop the price
    If the sticking point is money, speak to your agent and see if you can reach a compromise by accepting a little less for your property by negotiating down the chain. If everyone drops their price by 5%, it can hold the deal together.

    Consider a bridging loan
    If you feel you’re running out of options, you may want to think about a bridging loan. With one of these loans, you borrow money against your current property. The issue is, this can be a costly way to borrow, and you should generally only consider this as a last resort.

    Want to minimise your risks once the sales process gets started? Get in touch for some bespoke advice.
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  • 6 main steps involved in buying a house
    Posted on 22 September 2023

    6 main steps involved in buying a house

    Once you have decided who you are going to buy a house with and what your budget is, the house buying process usually goes something like this:

    Find a property
    The easiest way to find a property is by using an estate agent. You can set a location, budget, and any other property requirements such as number of bedrooms, then arrange a viewing for any houses that you like.

    If you are not sure where to begin with your search, then you can chat to your agent who will be happy to help you find the home of your dreams.

    Make an offer
    Once you have found your ideal property, it’s time to make an offer. This is where things can become a bit tense, as it is not usually advised to offer the asking price unless the house is on the market at a good value price. In the majority of situations, negotiations will take place.

    Make sure you have as much information about the property as possible before making an offer, such as what price similar properties have gone for, and whether the house will need any repairs or maintenance before you move in. Your position with negotiation will depend on a range of things, including whether the current owners are desperate to move, and how many others are interested in the property.

    Valuation and survey
    Your mortgage provider will want to value the property to find out exactly what it is lending money against. This usually involves a valuation-taking place but can also be done alongside some more in-depth inspections.

    Once your offer has been accepted, you will need to get a survey done to find out more about the condition of the house. There are four main types of survey and all will provide you with different levels of information. Once you have the results you can reassess your initial offer.

    Find a solicitor
    You will need to hire a solicitor to get your purchase through and to provide a legal record of the property transition from the previous owner to you. The solicitor will need to check the Land Registry and check for any issues in the area, then register the ownership.
    Your solicitor will also look after the money transfer for your property and deposit funds into the bank. They can also organise the stamp duty payment or you can pay it directly to HMRC.

    Exchange of contracts
    Once the money has been transferred, your solicitor will work with the seller’s solicitor to put all the terms of the sale into place. This will outline who the sellers and buyers are and how much the property is being bought for.
    Once the terms have been agreed, the contracts are exchanged and signed, and both parties must legally go ahead with the deal. The deposit must be transferred to the seller and a date for completion is put in place.

    The day you have been waiting for since you found the house of your dreams. On the day of completion you will get the keys to your new property and you will officially own it. All legal paperwork should now be complete and you can usually just pick the keys up from your estate agent.

    All that’s left is to move in your furniture and really make your house a home. If you are going to use a removal company, then make sure you get a few quotes to ensure you are getting the best deal possible.
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  • Your ultimate guide to purchasing an investment property
    Posted on 22 September 2023

    Your ultimate guide to purchasing an investment property

    As with any property advice, each property and buy-to-let situation is different, so be sure to ask for specific advice before you get started. Agents can often spot an incredible opportunity from a mile off and guide you in the right direction.

    1.     Calculate your yield              
    A rental yield tells you how much of an annual return you are likely to get on your investment.

    Gross rental yield calculation:
    (Annual rent ÷ property purchase price) x 100 = gross rental yield
    For example… (£6,000 ÷ £150,000) x 100 = 4.4%

    Calculate the potential return on any rental property you are considering buying to help evaluate if it has investment potential. Speak to a local letting agent to get an idea of the projected rent for the property.

    2.     Consider capital growth
    It is also worthwhile considering how long you plan to own the property, and how much it may increase in value during that time. Ultimately, capital growth also contributes to your overall return on investment.

    3.     Check for demand          
    Certain areas and type of property attract a higher demand from tenants than others. When you’re searching for an investment property, make sure you speak to a local letting agent who will be able to advise you about demand in each area.

    4.     Look for convenience
    Parking, access to transport links, local amenities - all these things will increase the property’s appeal to tenants.

    5.     Widen your target market
    Think about buying a property which will appeal to a wide section of renters rather than what would be your personal preference. This will increase the demand, helping to maintain a good rental value and minimise void periods.

    6.     Avoid major downsides
    Such as difficult access, strange layouts, high levels of noise pollution, dangerously steep gardens - anything that is likely to put potential tenants off.

    7.     Estimate your cost of maintenance and repair
    All outgoings - including any routine maintenance and repair - will impact on your net rental yield; so factor this in when deciding on what type of property to invest in.

    8.     Factor in fees
    Count in your mortgage re-payments, agency fees and the expected cost of landlord insurance, building insurance and rent protection insurance if you intend to use it. You will typically find that leasehold properties might be cheaper to buy but will have annual management fees and/or ground rents which you need to calculate into your yield.

    9.     Minimise voids
    A void period is the name given when a property is vacant and results in a loss of income. Choosing the right tenants right from the start and building a good relationship with your tenants can help keep void periods to a minimum.

    10.  Check the Energy Performance Certificate
    Since October 2008, rental properties in England and Wales have required an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC).

    On April 1st 2018, the Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES) came into force. This required all properties being let or sold in England and Wales to have a minimum EPC rating of ‘E’ or above. From 1st April 2020, the Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards apply to all existing tenancies – not just new ones or renewals.

    The government have proposed that all rental properties will need an EPC rating of ‘C’ or above by 2025. Like the previous changes, the new regulations will be introduced for new tenancies first, followed by all tenancies from 2028. Check the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) of the property before making an offer.

    Ready to get started? Get in touch to see what potential buy-to-let properties we have available in your local area or for any follow up questions about becoming a landlord.
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  • Furnishing a buy-to-let: everything you need to know!
    Posted on 22 September 2023

    Furnishing a buy-to-let: everything you need to know!

    When you buy to let, there are many things that you need to consider. However, with thought and planning, the process can be seamless, hassle-free and a wise investment for the future – particularly in prime areas where rental demand will always remain high.

    Knowing how to furnish your property is perhaps one of the biggest considerations, with practicalities to bear in mind, as well as an awareness of how your interior will affect the type of tenants you’ll attract, and the kind of contracts they will be looking for.

    First things first, why furnish your buy-to-let?

    As a landlord you are under no legal obligation to furnish your property and there is no right or wrong answer to whether you should leave the walls bare or create a turnkey property (one that is ready for immediate use). However, what you’re willing to offer will have a direct impact on who will be willing to rent your property. While some tenants may want to provide their own furniture, providing accommodation that is immediately ready for use holds wide appeal for a number of renters.

    Here are some of the benefits of furnishing your buy-to-let:
    Dependent on location, asset type and rental demand, furnishing your property to a good standard will inevitably attract those who want hassle-free renting, including mobile professionals, corporate tenants, tenants from overseas, international students and tenants looking for short-term lets.

    Because of the range of tenants you will attract, you may be able to rent your property faster. You may also be able to increase the rental price, depending on the quality of your facilities and furnishings.

    What furniture and furnishings should you include in a buy-to-let?
    When it comes to starting out, it’s worth sorting the must-haves from the optional. For standard rentals, kitchen appliances such as fridge-freezers, cookers, dishwashers and washing machines, all fall into the ‘must-have’ category.

    It’s also worth bearing in mind any furnishings that may be considered a little more complex to fit – such as curtain tracks, rails, and blinds. By making sure these are fitted yourself, you can ensure that the work is done to an appropriate standard and save yourself the worry of your tenants trying their own hand at tricky DIY. Bathroom fittings such as mirrors and towel rails are also small but important details to remember.

    Other furniture to think about:

    •      Beds and bedroom furniture such as wardrobes, chests of drawers and bedside tables.
    •      Lighting and lamps.
    •      Dining table and chairs.
    •      Sofas, chairs and soft furnishings such as rugs and carpets, depending on what flooring you have.

    There is no legal definition as to what constitutes a ‘furnished’ property. The items mentioned above constitute the basics, but for high-end, luxury rentals, crockery, cutlery, towels and bedding and top-end furniture may also be expected.

    Choosing an interior style that works for everyone
    Choosing an interior theme or colour scheme for your rental is important to get right. Forget personal taste – because when it comes to decorating your buy-to-let, clean, bright and neutral is the way forward.

    Here are a few top tips:
    •      Avoid trends when it comes to decorating – a quirky, intricate pattern wallpaper for a feature wall may seem like a good idea, but it could put off potential tenants with different tastes.
    •      Remember that light, bright colours make rooms seem bigger and more spacious.
    •      Think about quality and durability, particularly when it comes to fittings and fabrics. Don’t choose light fabrics that are hard to clean or easy to stain, it may be the way forward when it comes to wall colour, but white sofa covers aren’t quite so practical.
    •      How you choose to decorate your property will depend partly on which market you are aiming for, but remember to give your tenants some room to make the property feel homely and like their own – when it comes to small details and aesthetics, allow them to feel as though they have a good quality, comfortable blank canvas.    
    •      If your property is in an urban location, then it’s vital not to neglect any outdoor space if you’re lucky enough to have it. Ensure that any outdoor areas are clean, tidy and usable.

    Legal obligations for landlords
    Furniture must conform to the legal fire-resistant standard - all fabric furniture such as sofas and armchairs must have labels proving that they meet this standard.

    Finally, insure the contents of your rental property
    It is sensible to get the contents of your rental property insured. A letting agent will be able to make a detailed list (inventory) of everything in the property before the tenancy starts.

    When the tenancy ends, the agent will return to check that everything is still there and make a note of any damage or wear and tear.
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  • Low-Carbon Living from around the World
    Posted on 22 September 2023

    Low-Carbon Living from around the World

    With the interest raised by the COP26 summit highlighting the desperate need to cut carbon emissions, housing sustainability has become a hot topic.

    In the UK, there’s been lots of talk about using new technology to help reduce our carbon footprint.

    Given the average UK household emits 2.7 tonnes of CO2 a year from heating their home*, it certainly makes sense to utilise tech, where we can, to save the planet.

    But sustainable housing isn’t a new concept; some communities around the world nailed it long ago.

    Coober Pedy, South Australia
    Locals in this outback town spend their days prospecting in underground opal mines and their nights eating, drinking, and sleeping in spacious caves carved from the bone-dry earth.

    While this style of subterranean living is every claustrophobe’s nightmare, it saves on heating and cooling bills.

    Temperatures in the dugouts remain stable at between 19 and 25°C. So, when the mercury exceeds 40°C in summer (it once hit 47.8°C), residents remain cool underground.

    And on chilly winter nights when temperatures drop to 6°C, Coober Pedy locals are cosy below deck.

    Greater World Earthship Community, New Mexico, US
    The New Age residents of this remote community in El Prado live in brightly coloured ‘Earthships’.

    These homes are built from natural and recycled materials and look like something you’d find on the set of a Hobbit film.

    As they’re built into the landscape and partially covered in earth, Earthships have a high thermal mass, meaning temperatures inside remain consistent.

    Earthships also produce electricity and utilise recycled greywater.

    Botswana, Africa
    Some people in Botswana still live in traditional circular huts made of mud, clay, grass, and cow dung.

    This combination of local materials creates a sturdy structure that keeps out the African heat.

    Clay is a good insulator, mud is porous (allowing the breeze to pass through it), and cow dung acts as a stabiliser.

    Lessons for the UK
    While each of these housing types is unique, they all have two things in common.

    They make use of local materials and the natural landscape, and they have a high thermal mass – or in other words, they’re well insulated.

    From all of us here at Pinkertons, thanks for reading.

    *Figures from the Committee on Climate Change
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  • Keep your garden looking smart through Autumn
    Posted on 22 September 2023

    Keep your garden looking smart through Autumn

    September into October is a great time to rejuvenate your garden and get it ready for winter and spring. Here are some tips to keep your garden flourishing month after month:

    Clear Gutters and Drains
    As the leaves begin falling from the trees it’s a good idea to keep an eye on your gutters – especially if you have any trees close to your house. Clean your gutters out thoroughly so they don’t overflow when it starts to rain – water damage to your house is not cheap to repair.

    If you do find that your drainpipe is blocked, the easiest thing to do is stick a hose down the pipe and turn it on to help flush it out. Walk around your house and check that none of your drains are covered with leaves or rubbish. If they are clogged, then 100mls of neat bleach will help with the unclogging process.

    Rake Leaves
    If the sun has taken its toll on your lawn during the summer, your grass will finally get a chance to recover during the autumn months. Your lawn will grow more as the rains begin, and therefore need mowing more regularly.

    Make sure you rake up all the leaves on your lawn so the grass can see the light, otherwise you may end up with brown patches. It’s a good idea to apply a slow release fertiliser to your grass in October too, as this will help develop a strong root system and thicker grass.

    Get Planting
    Autumn is actually a really good time to start planting a selection of different fruit and vegetables. Broccoli, cauliflower, silverbeet, carrots, strawberries, and broadbeans are all good to plant in October and can be harvested in the spring.

    In order to maximise the flowering time of winter plants they need to be planted as early on in autumn as possible. Choose pansies, sweetpeas, and marigolds for a splash of colour, and go for lavender, ferns and hydrangeas to keep a good base of bushy plants.

    Make Compost
    Once you have collected all the fallen leaves, you can put them to good use by composting them. Combine leaves, any grass clippings, manure, scraps of fruit and veg, and some water, and keep all the ingredients as balanced as possible for a really good compost mix.
    Help the compost decompose by turning it with a fork occasionally and letting the air get to it. Use the compost in your garden to give your plants some valuable nutrients and keep them growing nicely.

    Look After Your Tools
    As you won’t be doing as much gardening through the winter months, it’s a good idea to give your tools the once over and store them in a clean, dry place. This care and maintenance will make them easier to use when you get them out in the summer and will extend their lifespan.

    Sharpen and disinfect pruners, and lightly sand any tools with wooden handles. If any of your tools have become rusty then apply penetrating oil and scrub with steel wool to remove the rust. Oil all your tools to prevent rusting through the winter months and store them securely in a shed with a lock.
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