It's that time of year again, the beauty of nature is in full force as the leaves change colour and with all the accuracy of a trained paratrooper, find their way directly onto your yard.
And yet, the fall yardwork is often relaxing, reflective, and rewarding. If you have kids or grandkids, it can also be a lot of fun. We all remember how much fun it was jumping in piles of leaves as high as we could pile them as children!
Experts are warning that might not be the best idea, however. Granted, experts are always warning that everything is a safety threat it seems. Still, it would be wise to at least hear (or read) what they have to say and at least be aware before you let the kiddos (and let's be honest, probably your doggos too) go ahead and make a giant mess of the yard you just finished cleaning.
Here is what they say you need to look out for:
It's important to remember why the leaves are on the ground in the first place. They're there thanks to the all powerful circle of life. In this case, the part of the circle where the leaves are decomposing and giving new life; sometimes that new life is mold or fungus. Especially if the leaves have been sitting out through a particularly long rainy season, there's a good chance there are at least a few little organisms growing in there. That doesn't mean if we touch it we're going to get sick, but the experts do say the safest thing to do is avoid them.
2. Little Critters
Many of them you can see just by picking up some of the leaves, the little creepy crawlies head in all directions! But some of them are harder to spot, and that's by design. Mites, ticks and parasites just looking for the chance to latch on to a new host. As with mold and fungus, your safest bet is to avoid contact, but if you can't or choose not to, just do a check for a ticks when you get inside making sure to check the spots they like to hide: behind the knees and elbows, armpits and groin. You'd also be doing yourself a favour by using insect repellant that works on ticks and wearing long sleved shirts and pants tucked into your socks!
3. Bigger Critters
Leaves don't just provide refuge for bugs! Spiders, snakes and even frogs have been known to hang out in leaves. Most of these will just scurry away when disturbed, but you don't want to risk them getting overly scared and giving you a quick bite. So just do a quick check before you let your precious ones have a romp in those leaves!
4. Sharp Things
This one seems obvious but it's not always. You just never know what is hiding in that leaf pile, and you may not have noticed something sharp under the rake - whether it's a stick or even broken glass. It's a good idea to do a sweep of leaf piles before anyone plays or even before you pick them up for removal. You might also want to do a quick inventory of your garden tools to make sure you didn't misplace one under your leaf pile!
Now you're aware, and it's time to put it into practice. I know you're probably not all going to go and tell your kids and dogs they can't play in that pile of leaves. But please play safely! And, very importantly, finish with a nice hot mug of apple cider afterwards!
**LEAVES ARE NO PARKING ZONES**
One final message, please make sure you never pile leaves close to the road where kids might end up playing closer to the road than they would. And for the love of everything, please don't ever park on piles of leaves. You just never know who or what might be playing in that pile of leaves. So just think of that pile of leaves as a big ole 'no parking' sign.