Save Money in this Sunday's paper

Real Estate


Norwood: Everyone hates raking leaves

By Allen Norwood
Allen Norwood
Allen Norwood writes on Home design, do-it-yourself and real estate for The Charlotte Observer. His column appears each Saturday.

More Information

  • More information

    [type your factbox here]

Somebody, maybe at Clemson or N.C. State, should invent a “determinate” oak tree. One that will drop its leaves all at once.

Determinate tomatoes ripen and are ready to pick pretty much at one time. Indeterminate tomatoes, as any backyard gardener and lover of tomato sandwiches knows, keep on producing right up until frost.

I appreciate the work of the wizards who came up with Clemson spineless okra. Especially when the first pods of the season brown gently on a corner of the grill. Maybe with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of Lawry’s seasoned salt. Man ...

But I digress.

If those wizards really want to win the favor of homeowners everywhere, they should cross a black oak with a Marglobe tomato and create a shade tree that drops all its leaves in just a week. Then we’d only have to collect leaves once.

Such is the stuff that goes through your mind when you’re gathering leaves.

Raking, blowing, vacuuming, mulching. Then doing it again the next week. And the next, and the next, and the next.

Every homeowner hates leaves. It’s official. One poll I read about online revealed that raking leaves is the most despised yard chore.

(I also read that you burn 307.2 calories per hour when you rake leaves. I don’t think that would change the poll results a whit. Most homeowners would choose liposuction over raking leaves.)

We don’t burn or haul away our leaves. We grind them up and spread them in natural areas and on planting beds. They’re beneficial.

But I like some of our trees, and their leaves, better than others.

One of our tallest oaks has leaves so large and tough that the vacuum has trouble managing them. They’re as big as dinner plates – OK, dessert plates – and almost as hard to suck up. It’s a wonder that a leaf falling from the tree hasn’t dented that grill.

Some of the oaks, the scrubby ones, hang onto most of their leaves all winter. They won’t drop the last of their leaves until the new growth starts forming in the early spring. So, we start battling those leaves in late October – and get to burn those calories until March.

Our maples, on the other hand, are both beautiful and well-behaved. They turn from amber to crimson in the fall. And then their leaves seem to fall in just a day or two – whoosh – so I’m not collecting maple leaves week after week after week.

It’s almost as if the maples have a little Rutgers tomato in their DNA.

Leaves from the wild cherries fall early, and they’re so light that they blow away easily. Sometimes into the neighbors’ yards. That’s another common complaint: Everybody feels like they’re raking up somebody else’s leaves.

Up in Canada, a couple of radio hosts announced that one township had adopted a bylaw requiring that every homeowner had to rake his own leaves, even from his neighbor’s yard. A hubbub ensued. Some were outraged, but others thought it sounded like a pretty good idea. The folks who approved – and missed the spoof – probably lived downwind from a cherry tree.

Special to the Observer:
Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

The Charlotte Observer welcomes your comments on news of the day. The more voices engaged in conversation, the better for us all, but do keep it civil. Please refrain from profanity, obscenity, spam, name-calling or attacking others for their views.

Have a news tip? You can send it to a local news editor; email to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Charlotte Observer.

  Read more

Quick Job Search
Salary Databases