As the weather gets a little colder and October draws near a close, most people in central Ohio who have a home and yard of their own find themselves undertaking the tasks associated with preparing their property for the arrival of winter.

As the weather gets a little colder and October draws near a close, most people in central Ohio who have a home and yard of their own find themselves undertaking the tasks associated with preparing their property for the arrival of winter.

Some of these activities have not changed much over the past couple of centuries or so, but more than a few have changed quite a bit.

First, there is the garden. As the hot and humid days of summer drift into the cool afternoons of the fall, efforts are made to salvage the last flowers and vegetables from summer gardens until the first frost ends the growing season. Except for the fact that more people grow more things in pots rather than plots — and even hang some of their tomato plants upside down — the basics of caring for and feeding a garden has not changed very much. Neither has the necessity of spending some time cleaning out the garden plots when the season is over.

Then there is the lawn. Today, most of us put at least a modicum of time into the care and feeding of our lawns. Depending on one's opinion of weeds, crabgrass and the other annoyances of yard maintenance, our lawns look a little better or worse than the lawn next door. But few of us question the persistence of the lawn itself.

Perhaps we should.

The lawn in its modern, pervasive form is a relatively recent invention. For several hundred years, the only people in Western Europe with lawns were people with a lot of wealth and position. The reason was obvious: Trimming all that grass to a proper height took a lot of work by a lot of people with scythes, sickles and, yes, even scissors.

Then in 1830, the first successful manual lawnmower appeared. Expensive and hard to repair, the early machines nevertheless brought the joys of yard maintenance to people other than the employees of royalty. It was not until 1870 that a reliable and inexpensive lawnmower began to be sold to the rest of us. And in short order, the weekly ritual of lawn mowing began. In its motorized version, it is with us still.

After the yard is prepared for the winter, we move on to the other chores associated with autumn. Chief among them is raking leaves. The process of gathering leaves into large mounds has not changed much over the years. Each generation of young children enjoys demolishing the piles prepared by their parents.

What has changed is how the leaves are removed. For most of our history, people piled up the leaves that were not used as mulch, waited for a windless day and set them on fire — much to the delight of the same children who had been jumping in them.

A number of rather spectacular fires in many different places generally ended this practice. Now we put the leaves into biodegradable brown bags and leave them at the curb for pick-up.

Concomitant with the removal of the leaves comes the cleaning of the gutters. Until relatively recently, this has meant moving along the roof and removing leaves and other detritus by hand to keep the gutters clean and free-running. Now technology has come to the rescue once again with a long metal hose attachment with a U-shaped nozzle at its end. By simply running the end of the nozzle into a gutter, a blast of water quickly cleans out the debris — and inevitably leaves the hapless operator soaking wet.

Hopefully by this time, we have taken advantage of hot weather to fill cracks in sidewalks, coat the driveway and repair appropriate roof areas with sealant. A few decades ago, this would have meant mixing the goo in a large metal bucket. Now we can buy it more or less ready to apply. If we have not done so, we can take our chances that the surfaces will dry — all so slowly — before a rain shower arrives. Or we can put all of these things off until next year.

Again, some things never change all that much.

After installing storm windows and doors as needed, we conclude our preparations for winter by taking in and storing the summer furniture. This used to be rather strenuous task when benches were made of cast iron or solid wood and wicker furniture was made of real wicker. Now most of it is plastic and much easier to move around.

Hopefully, we have concluded all of these activities before the end of the month of October and the arrival of Halloween. Now, having secured the garden gate so it will not soon be found hanging in a tree and wetted the windows to keep them from being soaped, we settle down to the rituals of the holiday.

These include carving a pumpkin without cutting off a finger, placing decorations according to our whim and, most importantly, personally tasting each kind of candy to be distributed to ensure its safety.

In 1911, Halloween was in some ways very similar to the celebration in our own time. In other ways, it was quite different.

Citing widespread “rowdyism,” Mayor George Marshall, then running for re-election, decried the lawless actions of the few and called for greater vigilance at the neighborhood level to prevent such incidents in the future. His pleas were generally ignored.

On the day following Halloween, a local newspaper noted that, “Many gates, signs and other loose articles were moved about the city and many owners of wagons who left their vehicles stand outside on Tuesday night had to hunt for them on Wednesday morning. Two wagons were dumped into the lake at Schiller Park.”

Other Halloween police reports included:

• Herbert Eaggleson, 1403 E. Long St., complained that two rockers were stolen from his front porch.

• A covered express wagon was stolen from R. Filler, 195 S. Grant Ave.

• And, more interestingly, D. H. Van Winkler reported to police that, while his automobile was standing in front of a saloon at 24 S. Front St., someone “stole a bottle of 20-year-old whisky, a clean white shirt and some brown bread.”

Perhaps the only person topping this exploit was the daring soul who “entered the barn of C. J. Rausch, grocer, of 77 E. Russell St., and stole $5 worth of candy and 40 feet of black rubber hose.”

What exactly the culprit had in mind for “trick or treat” was not revealed. Nor do we care to guess.

Happy Halloween.

Ed Lentz writes a history column for ThisWeek.