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  • ljmarkson

Leaf Gutters are Filled with Natural, Organic Matter

Updated: Nov 27, 2022

Sometimes trying to upkeep our home and protect my yard’s healthy ecosystem makes me feel like I’m a crazy person. For a few years we’ve had the same team clean the gutter and roof valleys on our house. They seemed to understand where I was coming from. I couldn’t find a company that would do this without using a nasty gas-powered leaf blower, but I found a service team who agreed not to use the blower anywhere except the roof, use their hands whenever possible to fill bags with whatever they removed from the gutter, and add all that rich, natural matter back into my rewilded yard.

This photo was taken last fall when the previous team of gutter cleaners put as much of the natural matter they found in a bag before adding it back into my naturescaped yard..

Earlier this week a new team showed up and it was a bit awkward. When I tried to explain that I wanted the leaf blower used only as needed and I was fine if they didn’t chase every single leaf off the roof, the male service person seriously asked, “so you’re okay with us not doing a good job cleaning off the roof?”. He wasn’t being snarky; I just wasn’t speaking his language. I explained what the last team did and how they even tried to avoid blowing anything onto the porch and patio. It went right over his head because he reassured me it was no worry because part of the service is cleaning everything up afterwards (with the leaf blower of course!). I clarified that I didn’t want the leaf blower used anywhere except on the roof and to just not worry about whatever fell on the hard surfaces. I could see how confused the team was by what I was saying. I joked that I knew what I was asking may seem strange but I didn't want to disturb any of the critters in my yard. The female service person explained that all their other customers expected a “pristine cleaning of hard surfaces and their lawns” and they just wanted to make sure they understood what I wanted. I explained again the damage leaf blowers could do to my naturescaped yard. They seemed to understand at least some of what I was saying because they only took one of the leaf blowers to the roof and it didn't seem to be on full tilt. When they knocked on the door to tell me they were finished I thanked them, and they drove off.

Just because my rain gutters need to be cleaned out every year doesn't mean I also want my yard "pristine".

I went out and briefly swept the large clumps of mainly pine needles they had blown off the roof and added them to the leaf covered ground next to the porch.

I was happy to add piles of decomposing pine needled and leaves from the gutters to my yard.

Later when we took a dog walk, I realized the team had used the leaf blower to clean our walkway and driveway! When I said I didn’t want leaf blowers used anywhere except the roof, they somehow heard I meant just the front porch and back patio. I sweep the hard surfaces every week which takes me less than 15 minutes, but I guess they just couldn’t process that I wouldn’t want my walkway and driveway more “pristine”, even after seeing that my yard has zero grass and is covered in leaves. Customers must think blowing the yard clean of nature is one of the perks of having your gutter cleaned. I’m sure the team was also worried they were not following the rules they had been trained to follow. The majority of their customers are still stuck in the old fashioned lawn tyranny landscape aesthetic, and I am apparently the only person that didn’t demand they leave my yard “pristine” (I keep repeating this because I'm a bit stuck on the irony of using the word pristine to describe sanitizing nature with an air and noise polluting machine when pristine is usually used to describe unspoiled nature )

This view of my naturescaped front yard was taken a couple weeks before a cold snap turned everything brown. I'm not sure how someone could pull into the driveway and not understand the owner of the house wouldn't want their yard "pristine" (a bizarre word to use about a yard)

Not long after they left, my indoor cats alerted me to a cute little chipmunk scampering around the front porch happily eating bits of something good I had missed when sweeping. Later in the same day a cheery Carolina wren and some busy house finches were uncharacteristically flitting around my front porch. I wondered about all the rich, decomposing organic matter in the gutter that everyone else has blown, bagged, and taken away. Yes, our gutters need to be cleaned to protect the roof of our human habitat from deteriorating. Yet coexisting with nature mean finding ways to do as little harm as possible to the habitat of the wildlife in our yard, not striving for pristine cleanliness! Whatever fell from the trees around our home onto roof is also part of my yard’s ecosystem.

This little guy was thrilled to find all sorts of goodies on my front porch even after I swept most of the organic matter off it.

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