Leo Martino of Martino Landscape Contractors says mulch, don’t bag, your leaves.

Leo Martino of Martino Landscape Contractors says mulch, don’t bag, your leaves.

It’s a sure sign that you are getting up there in years when suddenly you find that you’re working with the second generation of family-owned businesses that have provided home maintenance services for many years. It happened with my tree service, my plumber, and now my lawn maintenance company.

Just recently I received an introductory email from a young man named Leo Martino who introduced himself as the son of Roberto Martino whose landscaping company, Martino Landscape Contractors, has been maintaining our lawn for many years, how many I don’t remember, but when I looked on line for the company’s website I found that it had been established in 1989 and, honestly, I feel that I must have been one of its first customers.

Leo suggested in his email that I consider a column about how a healthy, weed free lawn helps a home’s curb appeal and helps boost value in a property and even in a community as a whole. I wrote back saying that I agreed totally. There was no convincing to be done there.

But as I looked out my window from my home office, I saw that leaves from my maples and needles from my pines were hitting the ground and I could hear them. It reminded me that it was time to start preparing the property for its long winter sleep, something I had done for a long time on my own but now, because of a busier schedule, not to mention a more tenuous back, I rely on Martino to get the job done for me.

We wrote back and forth online about what that job involves, and it turned out to be more than I had assumed.

Leo: “Most fall cleanup occurs in late October through mid-December, with the bulk of the work being leaf cleanup in the month of November. Using commercial blowers, we blow out all flowerbeds, concrete areas, and move the leaves onto the lawn, where we use, in most instances, our mulching mowers to turn the full leaves into dust or tiny particles. This process works best to minimize cost and environmental impact, as mulched leaf dust requires no disposal time or charge.

Me: “Yeah, all those years when I would mow my leaves without the catch bag on back, I thought I was just being lazy and didn’t want to bag the leaves. As it happens, I was environmentally sensitive without knowing it!”

Leo: “In cases where leaves are too voluminous or too wet to mulch significantly, we gather, load and haul the leaves. Our crews use the most efficient method when doing leaf cleanups, including being aware of wind direction and speed, along with being aware of sensitive areas and the volume of leaf dust that can accumulate before beginning to smother the yard.

Me: “Wow, I didn’t know your work was so scientific. Neat. What else do you do that I’m not aware of?”

Leo: “We do perennial flower and grasses cutbacks using hedge trimmers, string trimmers or hand tools. We cut back spent perennials to the proper level for re-emergence the next season. Many or most perennials are cut at or near the ground, leaving a neat, clean, organized appearance for the next season. In addition, shrubs can be touched up for perfect shape at this time to prepare for the winter.”

Me: “What else?”

Leo: “Fall is also time to clean gutters for the winter season, which we do with the final leaf cleanup. We clear the gutters and downspouts of debris, and test the system to make certain they function properly.”

Me: “I always had to look elsewhere for getting my gutters cleaned and the scheduling was sometimes spotty. There were some years when I forgot to do it at all. Glad to know that I can rely on you to schedule it and take care of it for me.”

Leo: “Right.”

Me: “Come right on over!”

Of course there is a charge for all this clean-up attention and when I was young, I couldn’t afford it. As I got older, however, I couldn’t afford the time. Anyone who is of the mind or circumstance for letting the experts do it, call Martino Landscape at 914-962-0757 or write: info@martinolandscape.com.

But if you do it yourself, remember, mulch, don’t bag.

Bill Primavera is a Residential and Commercial Realtor® associated with Coldwell Banker, as well as a marketer and journalist who writes regularly as The Home Guru. For questions about home maintenance or to engage him to help you buy or sell a home, he can be emailed at Bill@TheHomeGuru.com or called directly at 914-522-2076.

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