Getting Arthritis and looking for advice about simplifying
When we bought our house, we never expected:
1) That the person who had always been responsible for all of the yard work and home repairs (me) would be diagnosed with arthritis and find herself unable to physically keep up with the gardening.
2) That this house we truly love would be worth significantly less than what we paid for it 9 years earlier.
Our split-level house is on a quarter acre, sloped, oak-treed lot. The soil is sandy. Between the shade and and the sandy soil, we found planting hostas and other shade-loving annuals a better alternative to grass. The lawn we have left takes 14 minutes with a push mower.
My hips and knees no longer allow me to do the weeding and mulching necessary to keep the gardens up the way I used to. Additionally, both in spring and fall cleaning up oak leaves is a huge chore. And then there is significant snow in the winter.
My DH and I both know that we should give the house up, but until the housing market rebounds in our area, we are looking for ways to make staying here another 2-5 years less labor intensive for us.
We've tried hiring the work done, but have been disappointed with the high cost and/or unreliability of the people we've found so far. For example, the guy who removed snow this winter damaged our patio and a wood retaining wall. The guy I hired to rake leaves started two weeks ago and haven't seen him since.
So, I'm looking for ideas and advice regarding how we can simplify and make things easier. I have a number of ideas but just don't know what will give us the best returns in terms of cost and easing up on the work.
Do I put in a sprinkler/watering system?
Do we pull out the perennials and put in sod?
Do we do both, because the grass will not grow without significant attention to watering.
Do we buy a lawn tractor to clean the driveway in winter, do leaf vacuuming and perhaps help us when we have to put down mulch or will maintaining and storing a big machine (no one in the family is mechanical) too much work?
Finally, do we bite the bullet and hire a professional gardening service at $40 or more per hour and hope we get lucky with someone good? If you think that is the way to go, then advice on how to find someone good and reliable would be appreciated.
Are there other power tools or options we should consider?