I have a lawn service. How hoity-toity does that make me sound, huh? But, I have a good reason. When I bought my house part of the appeal was the wonderful shade trees - two 60-foot elm trees and three equally tall maple trees. How much more could you ask for in terms of summertime shade to cool the house, I thought. What I didn’t think of was Fall Clean-up.
The first year, it took three full weekends and over a hundred leaf bags. That was interspersed with a constant sinus infection from the leaf mold and the dust along with twice weekly visits to the chiropractor during that time and for a full month after. The second year, I didn’t get it all done. Of course, in Minnesota you can’t always count on sunny weekends and I work during the week. That year, rain was on order and I simply couldn’t get it all done before the snow fell. The next Spring clean-up was a nightmare. Moldy, sodden layers of leaves and underneath those, mold on my grass. That was all it took – I knew I couldn’t do this for the rest of my life!
Finding a lawn service that will do only Fall clean up is virtually impossible. And, who can blame them. So, I hired a lawn service for the entire season. Weekly mowing, gutter cleaning 3 times a season, and both Spring and Fall clean-up. That first summer was tough. I felt guilty paying someone else to mow. Also, I grew up mowing the lawn as a kid and I actually kind of like it. Those first two summers I would turn it into a mini-workout, trying to do it at a fast enough clip to get in a good cardio work out and with my heavy mower that was actually pretty easy. It was also good ‘thinking’ time since no one can really talk to you while you’re behind all those decibels.
On the down side, I often would end up with a sinus infection from the dust and dirt I would breathe in added to all those things I have become allergic to since living in Minnesota – including grass. Plus, even with a teacher’s schedule it was often difficult to get it done. The day you had set aside to do the mowing – it rained. When it was nice, you didn’t have the time. The next thing you knew your grass was 6 inches tall and in the middle of the mowing you find yourself in the emergency room having a finger stitched and set and thanking God you weren’t going to lose it completely (don’t ask.) Afterward, you discover the challenges of pushing that heavy mower with your dominant arm in a sling and the subsequent healing of the broken bone.
Still, it was tough to make the decision to pay someone else to do something you think you should be doing yourself. But then came Fall clean-up. It was amazing. I went to work one morning with a lawn knee-deep in leaves. When I came home they were gone. Gutters clean, gardens blown clean – not a leaf to be seen. Two days later, it snowed. Guilt disappeared - I was hooked!
This morning my lawn service came and did this year’s Fall clean-up. This was the first time I have been home to watch it happen. What a sight! 5 guys, 2 big riding mowers, one with a massive catch basket, 2 guys with industrial strength leaf blowers hooked to jet packs on their backs (think Star Wars), and a guy with a 12-inch diameter suction hose leading into an enclosed truck box. It took them 20 minutes – start to finish. It was amazing to watch – almost like watching a beautifully choreographed contemporary dance performance. And now I’m looking out onto a yard that has not a leaf to be seen. My yard is ready for winter.
As it turns out, paying someone else to do something for you doesn’t always end up being as terrible as you might think. You’ve contributed to the economy, and you’ve gifted yourself with countless hours of time in which to do something that you are better at. It’s a great lesson for me – what should I be spending my time on? What are my gifts? my strengths? If time is a commodity that has value, then doesn’t spending it well become good stewardship? And, if that’s just a rationalization, that’s okay too. I still have a great looking yard!!
5/17/10 - Unfortunately since I wrote this post my lawn service has deteriorated significantly. I can no longer recommend this company. If anyone took my advice last Fall and hired them and they aren't doing good work for you - my deepest apologies. I'm giving it the summer, but may be looking for a new company if anyone has one they'd like to recommend to me!
14 hours ago