Fall, leaves, trees, gutters, and ponds

I absolutely love trees.  One of the crazy things about my youth is that, for the most part, I lived in an area devoid of trees.  When I came to Chicago for the first time, I was a bit surprised by the literal forests in the suburbs.  Not that there are  not suburbs like that in Cleveland, I just lived in a suburb that seemed to thrive on tree destruction and then the planting of strange trees that didn’t get very large.

Trees, however, as much as I love them are a lot of work.  During this particular summer, our locusts and maples were naughtier than usual regarding the aphids that plague them.  For some reason, our tree spraying company changed their spraying schedule and the aphids were worse than normal on top of that.  Thus, we spent a summer trying to remove what the tree people call “honey dew,” that nasty gluey sap-like substance that the aphids defecate all over.  Our cars, patio table and lawn furniture were constantly sticky in the onslaught.

The other issue is the gutters. It amuses me to no end the different solutions that companies have put out regarding gutters.  I must say that I am willing to offer up my roof to some company willing to test their gutter guards.  I have two locusts that are very close to the house and dump their tiny leaves and, more importantly, the twigs to which the leaves are attached.   The latter is the real problem as they combine in the gutters and sometimes the downspouts to make what I call “treel wool,” which is like steel wool but made with mini branches.  It makes the removal of the leaves next to impossible as it clumps up and stuffs everything up.  The day they produced the blower (for yard cleanup), I was in heaven as I no longer had to remove all this stuff by hand (often in a decaying state and smelling like a sewer).  Even with the blower, I must be on top of the roof quite often to keep up with the mess.  I seriously think there are some people who think I actually live up there because of the frequency of my visiting the roof. This year, since I have more home time due to the recession and my job, I have really been good about it.  I even found a new downspout protector that actually seems to work.  Although there are leaves and “treel wool” everywhere, the water still manages to drain.  I must say that all of the gutter guards they sell probably wouldn’t work for my situation.

Leaves are a part of the fall season.  I have been told that I am a bit crazy in almost everything I do, fall cleanup is probably one of the times that my neighbors wonder about me.  I think I am the only one who actually vacuums up the leaves on my patio and front stoop.  Thank goodness for the new shop vacs with the huge hoses that don’t get plugged up all that much.  They have been a major time saver!

Several years ago, my sons decided to take the area way back in the yard and remove the swing set and put in a koi pond.  It is amazing, a great source of pleasure, but also of work.  This year instead of putting the net on it (to prevent the leaves from fouling it) closely, I raised it up about 4 feet or so.  It has worked out really well.

In Deerfield, IL, where I live, leaf removal is as simple as waiting for the weekly municipal vacuum to clean up the leaves I have left by the street.  To be honest, I am one of those people who uses this benefit the least.  I pretty much compost all of my leaves in the backyard, putting them under my bushes in the way back.  I am a firm believer in using as little chemically in my yard.  I try to use them only when I have to.  The only way I am currently fertilizing my lawn is my dog and the frequent clippings I leave for it!

Now that this work is almost over, I shall be into the next phase of outdoor work, Christmas lights.  That is another chapter.


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