- Posted by Hinged
Winter may be coming, but fall is almost here. Shorter days and cooler weather signal deciduous trees to drop their leaves. When I was a kid, fall meant endless hours of raking which was really about endless hours of jumping into the leaf piles. Jumping into the piles scattered the leaves and led to re-raking. Jumping into a large pile of nice crisp leaves is appealing, but we strongly recommend that you and your kids don’t do it.
The odd rock and stick buried under the pile made it a dangerous enough pastime years ago, but Lyme disease and leaf blowers have upped the risk level dramatically. Fallen leaves make a cozy home for ticks which can transmit Lyme disease and a host of other nasty infectious diseases. Wet leaves can be a spawning ground for mold and other fungi. Raking leaves by hand makes it a lot easier to weed out sticks and find stones. The pile created by a blower is much more likely to contain branches and be sitting on rocks. If you have dogs or dogs roaming your neighborhood, the blowers also make it more likely that your leaf piles will contain pooch poop.
If you can’t resist a good jump in the leaves for you and your kids, reduce the risk. Start with dry leaves, they’re easier to rake and less likely to be moldy. Ticks are less likely to be living in grass than woods or planting beds, so pick an area in your yard that is well away from both. Clean up any sticks and doggy deposits. Test the ground for shallow rocks by crawling around or better yet have your jumpers test roll to find the perfect spot. Dress appropriately in long sleeves and long pants. Tucking your pants into the top of your socks can reduce the chance of ticks crawling aboard. Rake up a good sized pile of leaves and have at it, but be careful to scatter the leaves again before ticks and critters can move in. Even with these precautions, do a thorough tick check when playtime is over. This is best done in a shower and followed by vigorous soaping and shampooing. Deer ticks are really small about the size of a the head of a pin. Angels don’t dance on them, but they do crawl around looking for a safe spot to latch on. Look particularly carefully in creases and in hair. Any achiness or flu-like symptoms within the next two weeks is reason to worry and see a doctor. Lyme disease is tricky and not all cases are the same or start with a bulls eye shaped rash.
If it has rained recently and the fallen leaves are wet and moldy, or the thought of infectious ticks is too much to deal with, let the kids jump on the bed and schedule one of the carefully selected landscapers available on Hinged to clean your yard. While you are at it, don’t forget to schedule gutter cleaning. This is especially important if your gutters drain into a subsurface system for moving rain water away from your house. Allowing leaves to clog the system can lead to a flooded basement. A little maintenance done every fall can save you thousands of dollars in the long run.