Business Lessons Learned From Yard Work

In Articles by Mr. Long Island1 Comment

By Michael Watt

I spent a couple of hours raking leaves this beautiful Sunday afternoon in New York. Fresh air, exercise, scoring points with the wife. It doesn’t get any better than that, right?

Wrong! I hate yard work. With a passion. I don’t need a rake in my hand to appreciate the great outdoors or to get exercise. I much prefer a long, briskly-paced walk through one of our many state parks to clear out my lungs or tone those thighs.

I understand wanting your yard to look nice. I live in a lovely village and I want my house to hold up its end when it comes to maintaining the village wonderfulness. My problem is with the concept of raking leaves. Why do we do this? Why do we subject ourselves to this annual ritual of collecting and bagging harmless leaves, to be carted off to some unknown place? What’s wrong with letting the damn things lie (lay?) where they land – decomposing and restoring nutrients back into the ground the way God intended them to?

We all marvel at how great leaves look when they change colors and hang from trees. Parts of the country base their entire tourism industry on folks driving to the country to see some “fall foliage.” So what’s the difference if the leaves are on the ground? Aren’t they just as colorful?

But no:  Some yutz way back when decided that his yard would look better with the leaves gone from the ground. Then an even BIGGER yutz – most likely the first yutz’s neighbor – decided to follow suit. If that second yutz had instead walked over to the first yutz’s house, smacked him in the head and said, “What the heck are you thinking?,” then the rest of us would be a lot better off. No big bags of leaves to cart off. No tax dollars being wasted on leaf collection crews. No weekend hours spent corralling things that were never meant to be corralled, only to see a new wave of leaves take their place.

Perhaps we can undo the damage by starting a movement that calls for a ban on raking leaves. Can’t we find some ecological reason to justify why raking leaves is bad for the environment? Where’s Al Gore when you need him? Hell, it wasn’t that long ago we could burn our leaves, and somebody put a stop to that, unfortunately. (Only people of a certain age know why this is unfortunate. There was nothing like the smell of burning leaves. Of course, only people who never volunteered as firefighters would lament the demise of this practice. Apparently too many folks who burned their leaves also ended up burning their homes. )

But I promised a business lesson, and here it is. Sometimes you just have to do what you have to do to keep the customer happy. In this case the “customer” is my wife. She enjoys yard work and she works hard to make sure our yard looks nice, which reflects well on me regardless of how I feel about the effort involved. If she needs me to spend a couple of hours doing something I loathe doing then so be it. If the wife is happy, then I am happy.

Thank you for reading this blog.

Michael Watt is the president of Long Island Inc. , your single source for Social Media strategies and services. For more information visit


  1. Paul Angotta says:

    Hate yard work – always have; always will. Welcome to our club.

    While out in Southampton, I noticed that NO ONE rakes leaves. The many gardeners blow them out to the street and the town is supposed to come by – I guess with a big scooper – and take them away.

    This is great in principle – but it does not work. Being an ocean community, there is a constant wind blowing. So unless the town truck is coming around at the EXACT moment the leaves hit the street, they will wind up on ONE neighbors lawn – usually at the end of the block. And it looks like every single leaf in the village was dumped there. A losing battle if there ever was one.

    Have a great Thanksgiving.