• ljmarkson

Reclaiming My Leaves and Restoring Nature

Updated: 3 days ago

My advocacy for nature puts me outside my conflict comfort zone. I find myself consistently protecting my rewilded yard from neighboring intrusions including pesticides, light pollution, exotic invasive plants, and the weekly mow, blow and go crews who insist on cleaning up the edges of my yard. The same crew does neighbors on both sides at the same time each week. I dread it and must plan my outside activities around their arrival.

Like clockwork every Wednesday around lunchtime the ramp rack goes down and the polluting gas powered leaf blowers rev up. To add insult to injury, the crew often parks in front of my house so they can go to the houses on either side of me!

I've planted exuberant native plants to ensure a buffer along the sunny strip of my land on the other side of the boundary fence. If any plants curl up and turn brown or I find an insect apocalypse in any section, I know to contact the Georgia Department of Agriculture to have the soil and plants tested for drift. Fingers crossed but so far this hasn’t happened.

A long row of dense native plants, including mountain mint, offers a barrier for the rest of my rewilded yard. They are my canaries in the coal mine!

I have not been successful convincing the crew or my neighbors on one side to stop using ~200mph air and noise polluting gas powered leaf blowers to remove my intentionally thick layer of leaves along a shady stretch of my fence. They leave bare, lifeless earth in their path. Once, a crew member even pointed to his feet showing me that they were on my neighbor’s property as he continued blowing all the natural matter away from my fence! I understand these workers are doing what they have been trained to do which unfortunately is to destroy the ecosystem of each yard they visit. They also can’t seem to comprehend why I would not want my ungardened yard cleaned up. I will generously hope that maybe they think they are being helpful.

I wish I didn't need to leave up our property survey markers to help the mow, blow and go crew stay somewhat in the yard they're working in...otherwise, they're a little too "generous" with their trimming and blowing. The frog fruit (phyla nodiflora) to the left of the marker will inevitably get trimmed back.

In anticipation of their weekly Wednesday visit today, I spent more time than I care to share to design a sign to indicate to that they needed to stay away from the fence. I laminated multiple signs and hung them on the fence. It didn’t seem to work because I saw leaves flying up over the fence as the leaf blowers went along it! I meditated a bit on the situation (seriously) and realized that trying to stop this insanity creates great distress for me each week. I needed to find a way to accept the reality of the situation and go about this from another direction.

My little DIY project didn't go so well!

There were two huge leaf piles from both houses sitting at the end of each driveway, ready to be chopped up and carted away. I went out and asked them nicely if they would put the leaves in my yard. They seemed completely confused because I’m usually yelling and waving my arms to stop them from doing something that affects my yard, but they thanked me because they didn’t have to chop up the leaves, remove them, and maybe even pay to dump them somewhere. I told them they could do this every week and they seemed agreeable to this.

The yard crew transferred all the leaves from both houses they were working on to my yard...it equaled over 8 leaf bags that would have been taken out of our neighborhood!

If they continue to give me leaves, it means I won’t have to collect as many bagged leaves from my neighborhood this year to enrich my overstory tree deprived backyard. The other side of the fence is a lost cause, but now I will be able to reclaim my leaves plus the leaves from both yards...and they'll have a safe home along my side of the fence!

I was able to make a generous row of piled leaves along my side back fence with all the leaves the yard crew gave me. The piles will grow each week!

Not only am I saving the insects that might overwinter in these leaf piles, but birds and critters will poke through them for food and shelter throughout the winter!

When I look the dried leaves in my yard I see next year's butterflies, moths and fireflies as well as food for baby birds next spring!

UPDATE on this post: I just can't keep up with the destructiveness of my one next door neighbor! Within weeks of posting this an "organic" green lawn company showed up at one of the houses where I asked for the leaves and sprayed pesticides on the lawn. A few days later another truck showed up and used seed spreaders to spread weed and feed on the lawn....the kind that has little blue bits in it. I had to tell their yard crew to continue giving me the leaves from my other neighbors who don't use pesticides in their yard, but to stop giving me the leaves from the pesticide/weed and feed neighbors. Sigh.

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