Fall clean-up is a big job at our house. We love living in the woods, but the work required to pick up leaves here can sometimes be a little overwhelming. My husband and I usually do all of the leaf pickup, but this year all the kids lent a hand. My new motto is, “Weingart starts with “We” and WE all need to help out in order to get things done around here.” Surprisingly, there is no complaining. Not yet.
We returned from New York City to find that virtually all of the leaves had fallen and the trees were bare. With three acres we can’t do it all in one day. But we’ve managed to find a system that helps make it more manageable. Andy or I use the blower to get the leaves out of the beds and off of the grass into large piles. Of course, the kids like to play in the leaf piles. This year the piles were so big that they made a fort. Then he attaches the Cyclone Rake to his riding mower. It is essentially a huge vacuum that sucks up the leaves and then shreds them into mulch. We all help raking the leaves into the vacuum shoot. This was not an inexpensive yard tool, but whatever we paid for it, it is worth EVERY PENNY! Before we bought this a number of years ago, we would rake or blow the leaves on to tarps and pull them into the woods. That was before we had children and had a little more time. You can also just ride the mower as if you are cutting the grass and the leaves are sucked up that way, but when there are SO MANY leaves, the vacuum doesn’t do as good a job getting the leaves up. Andy then dumps all the leaves into the compost pile at the edge of the woods. It’s gotten pretty big this year. When our children were younger and I was inside nursing babies, this became a one-man job and it was almost impossible to get done. Now that the kids are older, we put them to work.
This week I also finished cutting back my perennial garden as well as some remaining astilbe and geranium rozanne. My mums were way past their prime, so, sadly, it was time to add those to the compost pile too. One of these years I will do a better job taking care of them and get them to last until Thanksgiving. I always pause when it comes to preparing my hydrangea for winter. I have read different things about whether or not to cut them down to the ground or leave the branches longer to protect them and ensure you’ll have lots of flowers next year. Last year, I left the branches long and only clipped away the dead flowers. Then in the spring and early summer when I could see the new growth, I cut away the dead branches. This seemed to work well as I had many beautiful blooms this summer and the size of the bushes was just right. I decided to do the same this year. I did strip the dead leaves off of the branches to make them look nicer. John helped me cut away the dead flowers. I KNOW, he shouldn’t be using these gardening shears. I was right next to him the whole time cutting each branch with him ensuring his safety. Don’t worry, no children were harmed in the making of this post. I didn’t want to squash his enthusiasm and we talked about how we can only use them with mommy’s help.
There is still a little more work to be done, but we were able to complete nearly all of our fall yard chores this week, just before the first snowflakes began to fall. While I will miss my pretty green lawn and my colorful flowers over the winter months, I have to admit it will be nice to have a little break from yard chores. When the snow is still falling in April, I will long for those chores again.
Since I started writing this blog, many people ask me, “How do you find the time?” One of the ways I fit everything in and find time for the things I enjoy is by letting my kids help. At the Weingart’s house WE all work together to check things off our to do list. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Put your kids to work. While it might slow you down a bit in the moment, remember that you are helping to build confident, helpful, and handy little people.