Dreaming Of A Clean Spring


Now that we know each other, I feel it’s time for me to make a confession.  I . . . Well, I did something I never did before.  I contracted with a landscaper to do my spring clean up.  Please, don’t judge me.  I have my reasons.

I don’t have a large yard, but what I do have are lots of trees.  And the property behind my house is not developed, so that means more trees.  And the street where I live is actually a “T,” which means when the wind blows, all of the leaves from the intersecting block are deposited on my lawn.  So my fall weekends are spent raking and bagging.

At this stage, I have a pretty good system.  I use an old garbage can, put in a recyclable plastic bag, rake everything into a pile, knock the can onto its side, shove in the leaves, tie off the bag, carry it to the curb, and start all over again.  I can do that 40 times each weekend.

Then, spring arrives, and it’s a cruel joke.  After the snow melts, there are still more leaves to be raked.  They blew into my yard all winter long when I wasn’t looking.  My partner, Joe, is always after me to hire someone to rake up the yard.  But I take my stand.  I convince him, as well as myself, that I love to rake and clean the yard. 

So, there I stood on a cool early spring Saturday morning, armed with my favorite rake.  Many of you may be saying, “Why doesn’t he use a leaf blower?”  The truth is, I haven’t quite mastered the art of leaf blowing.  When I have make the attempt, which is usually on the windiest day, I feel as if all I do is blow the leaves up and around until they fall pretty much where they started.  On the other hand, I am quite skilled at blowing all of the mulch out of the flower beds.

I stick with my rake.  It’s old, with a not-so-complete set of tines, and we go back a long way with each other.  I know how it feels, how to lead it  in the dance of raking leaves.  And it knows what I need it to do.  We raked and bagged and raked and bagged, and when we were spent and exhausted, we looked at a leafless backyard. 

Backyard?  All we raked was the backyard?  We had been out here all day.  The sun was setting.  And I still had to do the front yard?   I cracked.  Maybe I hadn’t trained enough over the winter months.  Maybe the raking magic was gone.  But I knew I couldn’t do it.  I couldn’t rake, bend, or bag another leaf.

My neighbor–really, all of my neighbors–had caved in years ago.  One day, I saw the trailer with three shamrocks on it pull up, and out rolled all of  the equipment and workers, and my neighbor’s lawn was raked, dethatched, aerated, fertilized, and seeded.  When the crew finished that yard, they turned their attention to another yard, and another, and another.  They were unstoppable, and I wanted them.

I marched up the street, dragging my rake behind me, and I made a deal with the shamrock trailer.  My front yard received the full spa treatment in the time it would have taken me to get all of my equipment out of the shed.  The lawn looked amazing. 

Now, here is a dilemma.  Three shamrocks wants to mow my lawn on a regular basis, but I’m one of those last hold outs.  (That’s a post in itself!)  And I have to come to terms with my relationship with my rake.  Could it really be over after all these years?  I’ll answer that question in the autumn, when the first leaves start to fall.

14 thoughts on “Dreaming Of A Clean Spring

  1. Thanks for the laughs! I hate the yard clean up, but I seem to find no way out of it. Though I have 3 healthy children whose health, diet and education are completely nurtured by me, I struggle to get them help me for more than 5 minutes before they creep into the house, out the front door, and on to their lives. I don’t think you will be judged negatively by us; in fact, I am envious as I daydream of the 3 shamrocks in my driveway. Good for you!

    • It’s funny–normally I do love the yard clean-up. But this year, maybe it was winter weariness, lack of time, bad weather. I’m not sure–but it was amazing to see a crew of four do that much in a short time.

  2. I, too, am easily seduced by the shamrock. Three would have me at “Hello.” There is nothing even slightly unrighteous about getting some assistance with the larger and more crippling tasks. And in this economy, it becomes a sort of giving back. We have health insurance…the Three Shamrocks may not.

  3. I to have been struggling with the spring and fall cleanup. Last spring we RAKED over $150.00 to the local landscaper. They did a great job but when i gazed out the window to admire the manacured lawn the feeling was just not the same. When fall came we decided to purchase a new lawnmower. As we shopped my eye caught the lawnmower with interchangable blades. Mulch your leaves they said! I can mulch the leaves into the soil, great for the environment, no plastic involved… Sounds great right? So here is the problem. Every time I let the dog out we both came in with bits of leaves stuck to our soles. And if it was raining it was one ugly mess. There is always a trade-off. I feel your your pain!

    • I understand about the mulching mower mayhem. On the one hand, I get the whole adding nutrients back to the soil. On the other, I end up with a lot of thatch. With more space, I could probably have an amazing composting system.

  4. As my wise mum likes to say, “Give someone else a job.” I have applied this concept to house cleaning and yard work. Actually, my husband got the yard guys first and saved himself six hours every weekend. After that, I got the house cleaning crew. Now, if I could only get the same crew to do both the inside of the house and the outside for the same amount of money, I’d really have something! I wonder if the leaf blower could be used to get rid of hairballs.

  5. My husband keeps telling me that the hours spent cleaning the leaves is quality bonding time. Oh yes, Jonathan and I bagging up the leaves (at least 100 bags per season) and my hubby, doing even more auditory damage, drowing out that lively family conversation with a leaf blower strapped to his back.

    • Actually, there is something peaceful about raking. I think it might be the smell of the leaves — kind of like the piles we used to jump into as kids.

  6. hi, dirtman! just checking out your blog for the first time and had to comment. in general, i just don’t like power tools in the garden. they’re noisy and smelly (the gas ones) and they scare me (the gas lawn mower). so husband Mulch Boy uses his beloved power mower, but when he can’t get to mowing, i wheel out my little manual reel mower. not only does it make a satisfying whirring noise, but the pups are not afraid of it, so we don’t go through their “OHMYGOSHIT’SARMAGGEDON!” barking fits.

    HOWEVER… i do have one power garden tool that i love, and that’s my electric leaf blower/mulcher. like you, if i’m gathering my leaves into a pile, i’m a raker. I’ve never used the blower feature on my blower, in fact. But two years ago, we started composting, and this little electric baby is GREAT. It sucks up the leaves, mulches them much smaller, and fills up its little bag. I then dump the full bad into one of our compost piles. a year later, lovely lovely compost!

    • Hi Potato Queen. Glad you were able to visit. My dream — as sad as it may sound — is to go back in time and get one of those manual reel mowers. Joe thinks I’m nuts. Maybe I am, but at least I can vaccuum up any of the clippings.

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