I’ve been living in Northeastern Ohio for the past 13 years, and I’m coming up on fall number 14. Of the 13 previous seasons, I’ve paid landscapers to clean up the leaves on my property for eight of those years. I estimate that I’ve spent nearly $10,000, all told, just getting rid of the leaves, twigs, branches, acorns, maple seeds, bark, shavings, and assorted debris that have accumulated on my lawn over this period.
Over the years, I’ve purchased three leaf vaccum/shredder/blowers, a self-propelled lawn vac/chipper/shredder, a lawn mower that mulches and bags yard waste, a tiller, a chain saw, 400 or 500 feet of electrical cord to drive the electrically powered equipment , and over the five or so years that I actually removed the leaves myself, roughly 400 biodegradable paper yard waste bags at a cost of about 75 cents each.
This year so far, I’ve filled 12 of those 30 gallon bags, and it’s only the first week. You see, this year I have two excuses for firing my landscaper (a task which I wisely pawned off on my wife, Sally) and doing the job myself. First, and most important, I’m unemployed, and I don’t have $800 to $1000 to spend on leaf cleanup. Secondly, now that I have some time at home, I can actually do the job correctly, which is something that has not happened in the past eight years.
It’s not that I’m unsympathetic to landscapers, but they all have one recurring problem that makes my life a living hell. Specifically, every year around November, when all the leaves have finally fallen, and it’s absolutely imperative to get them cleaned up before the first snowfall, the landscapers simply disappear. Most of the time, they’re getting their equipment ready for snowplowing season, having completely forgotten about the leaf removal for which they’ve already been paid. In one instance, my landscaper actually packed up, left town, and took a couple of weeks of vacation, never to be heard from until the following spring. So, having already paid for the cleanup, I ended up doing it myself. In other years, I have had landscapers show up every week or so during the fall, only to inform me, as the final deluge came down, that the best they could do was to move them to the back of my lot, to be cleaned up and removed in the spring. Strangely, when spring arrived, they made the pile bigger rather than smaller.
In short, I’ve been trying to get leaves and brush removed from my property for years. I have more compost than I know what to do with, and I still have a pile of leaves 30 feet in diameter and five feet high, left over from last year!
But this year will be different. You can bet on it, because I’ll be doing this job, mostly alone, with help from Andy, and believe me, Sally won’t be accepting any excuses like those landscapers gave. When the snow flies, the ground had better be clear of leaves!
I bought a gas powered blower this year, and I’m planning on gettng a larger wheeled version for the really heavy stuff in a few weeks. Despite all this, I’ll be spending less than I would have by hiring someone to do the work. The last time I did this, I filled 105 bags of leaves. This year could be a record-setter!