Monday, March 19, 2012

Yard Work - I Need Help!

Jordan - my possible new help to maintain my yard

I love yard work.

From the time I was a little kid growing up on 120 Washington Avenue in Downingtown, Pennsylvania I wanted my own yard.  I envied my fellow classmates who lived in houses that had their own back yard.  We lived in a second floor apartment in a large, cheap ($22 a month) apartment building in the white trash poor section of town.  That apartment building is still there and it is still the white trash poor section of town.

120 Washington Avenue, Downingtown, PA - no back or front yard here

I got my taste for yard work from mowing the lawns of some of my customers on my paper route.  I also pulled weeds from my Great Aunt Grace's garden.  I've always loved working outside, with the fresh air and my hand in the warm earth.  I can still remember the fresh spring time smell of buttercup flowers as I was on my hands and knees pulling dandelions out of my Aunt Grace's backyard garden.

Of course I did have my taste of working in the garden which was my father's corn field.  My brothers and I spent many a hot summer day hoeing and weeding eight to twelve rows of corn.  But I never considered this yard work.  I considered this WORK.  Besides, it was for my father and it didn't count.  Slave labor.

My father and brother John at my pop's corn field - see how thrilled John is?
After we pulled our required rows of weeds, we were treated to ice cream.
Bribery always sometimes works with kids.

Our family didn't get our own house with land until the summer of 1958.  I was 16 years old and soon to enter my senior year in high school.  I was too caught up in my pubescent adolescent years to have much interest in yard work at that age.

After high school I joined the Army.  When I got out of the Army it was back to apartments again for me.  Ub 1964 I met Bill (my spouse of 47 years this year) and, of course, moved into his apartment in New Jersey.  After a year or so of that apartment me moved into an apartment in Philadelphia, PA.  Still no backyard or front yard for me.  Finally, in 1979 we bought a small row house in center city Philadelphia and I finally had my own backyard, albeit a very small postage stamp back yard.

Our Philadelphia "backyard" - not really 

We lived there for eleven years but I never had much satisfaction from that backyard which really wasn't more than a location for potted plants.

It wasn't until we moved to East Brandywine Township outside of Downingtown, PA in 1980 that I finally had my own "backyard";  all 6.875 acres of it!  Needless to say, I had plenty of backyard then and had a wonderful, interesting and time consuming time.  Remember the old adage "Be careful what you wish for?"  Well, I had more than enough yard work.  Me, the deer, and the bugs, and everything.

Our East Brandywine Township backyard - too much - salad for the deer

Fast forward to today.  I have the ideal suburban backyard.  Our backyard now is real.  It is in the back of the house.  I can plant whatever I want to and don't have to worry about deer eating my plants nor neighborhoods kids picking my flowers like I did in Philadelphia.

So what is the problem now?  I am too old for all this work!

This morning as Bill and I were driving back into our development back from morning errands, I saw a young man working outside my neighbor's house.  Now I've been thinking about this for quite a while.


Bill getting ready to decapitate the Pampas grass yesterday

Yes!  I need help.  I admit it.  I'm seventy years old now and after spending four hours yesterday cutting back one Pampas Grass plant, I decided I needed help.  Preferably the help of a young, muscular, healthy man.  Hey, you can't blame me can you?

I called my neighbor and asked her if I could approach her Landscape Guy (one has to be careful about things like this one does).  She said "Sure!"  I took a walk up and introduced myself.  I was greeted with a firm (masculine) handshake.  Good first step!  The young man (most men are "young men" to me these days) introduced himself to me.  I explained my situation.  He said he would be glad to come down to my place and check out my "situation" (don't even go there).

So here I await.  I have succumbed.  I am now the Old Man who needs help maintaining his property.  Has it really come to this?  Oh yes it has.  This is just another milepost on my Journey In Life.

Some people go to the opera, some go to the races, other go on a cruise.  Me?  I find my solace working in a pastoral backyard with just the birds, plants and fresh air for company.  I don't have to deal with the vagaries of people and their whims and demands in this sylvan setting.  Only me and Nature.  The way it was meant to be.


Bob said...

Send that help down here.
I am in Day Five of leaf removal with no end in sight.

Ron said...


When I moved down here I made sure I didn't have any trees (except the ornamental prune tree in the front yard). In Pennsylvania we lived in the middle of the woods. The leaves never ended. Leaves and broken branches. I made a vow "Never again!" Now I have wire grass to contend with but at least I don't have to fight the deer eating all my shrubbery. It's always something isn't it?

Anonymous said...

I started cutting lawns when I was 10. Our neighbor across the street was Mrs. Kettler and in her 90's. I would cut the grass but she liked to use the clippings for her garden so she would have me empty the bag into her apple basket and then she would carry it into the back yard and spread the clippings returning timed to take the next bag full. She never let me carry the basket for her and I never mowed her back yard which in our neighborhood was sizable. She would use a hand mower and do her backyard herself. We moved when I was 15.5 and we never saw her again. She made the best apple pies.

Ron said...


That was a nice story. I have similar stories. I too started to cut lawns when I was about 10 years old. I usually got paid $1.00. No apple pies. You were lucky.

anne marie in philly said...

you and bill have a LOVERLY back yard, peaceful and colorful and quiet. but nothing wrong with getting a bit of woofy help to "keep it green and clean".

{{{{{hugs}}}}} to bill!

Ron said...

Anne Marie,
I jut got the bid....$1,100. Too much. The back yard will stay as it is.

Jon said...

Great story and photos....but the mere thought of yard work is chilling, because I do all of it myself. West Texas is an absolute nightmare because there's nothing but weeds and dirt. My front yard looked so bad that I finally removed all the weedy grass and replaced it with gravel and cement. My back yard is HUGE and the weeds are rampant. I need more than help, I need Divine Intervention. Handsome yard men are too damn expensive. I'm considering getting a large herd of goats.......

Jeff said...

It's a jungle out there. A nice yard boy sounds good to me.

Ron said...

Guess what? Handsome yard men are too expensive here too. I just found out. Jordan (his name) called me back with an estimate for the work that I wanted done. His estimate? $1,100.00. Uh...way too much. I was thinking something more along the lines of $600. So much for that.

wcs said...

Oh well. I might consider paying to watch him work, scheduled of course on a hot day when he would have to take his shirt off...

I'm having trouble with my yard work and I'm only 52! Spending a week on a ladder trimming hedges nearly did me in last fall. I'm likely going to pay someone to do that this year.

Scott said...

Make sure you have plenty of lemonade for those hot shirtless August afternoons. ;)

Ron said...

Jordan (the young, healthy, landscape guy) came back with a quote of $1,100.00. I would pay that but Bill was very unhappy with that bid. Too much. It is a lot but would be worth it to me. I called this morning and told him I wasn't going to take him up on his offer. Maybe next year.

Ron said...


I was so looking forward to watching my hired help but I suspect that's why his bid price was so high ($1,100.00) Bill wasn't happy with that price and I have to live with Bill. I had to pass.

Ur-spo said...

As is often the case, I am late to the party and have to join the end of the conga line.
I too enjoy doing yard work, but I have learned little pleasure and luxury of hiring others to do some of that for me. I don't see this as a loss but is wisdom. of course, I want to hire the pretty ones, no rubbish! so I can get a visual enjoyment as well is a tidy yard.

Ron said...

Dr. Spo,

If and when I do hire someone to do my yard work, you can be sure they will be pretty. There will be no uglies working in my patch.