Tips on Raking Leaves and What to Do with Them

The warm summer days are gone, and a crisp breeze brings the colorful leaves to the ground. Fall is a beautiful time of year and time to rake leaves. Raking leaves is a seasonal chore that needs to be done each year. If leaves are left on the ground, they can smother the grass and attract unwanted pests.

Raking leaves doesn’t have to be a tedious chore. Follow a few simple tips to get your fall yard work done so you can spend the rest of the season sipping cider and enjoying the change of weather.

Before You Rake

Decide the Best Time to Rake

Before you start raking, check the trees in your yard. If they still have some leaves, then wait until all of the leaves have fallen before you get to work. This will save you time and energy.

Dress for the Occasion

Make sure you are dressed for the weather and don’t ruin any clothes. Raking is a dirty business. It is best to have a long-sleeved shirt, long pants, supportive shoes, a hat, and gloves to protect yourself. Gloves protect your hands and can help you avoid blisters.

Choose a Rake

Leaf rakes are either metal or plastic. A plastic rake will be lighter, and it is better to rake up dried leaves. A metal rake is denser and is better for wet leaves. Depending on your height, choose a rake with a long enough handle to avoid any unnecessary bending over, which can hurt your back. If you already have back issues, it’s a good idea to look for an ergonomic rake. This will make it easier on your body as you rake. A rake with a cushion on the handle can help you grip the rake better and be softer on your hands, especially if you have a lot of leaves to rake. Choose a rake with a wide tine spread about 30 inches across. When shopping for a rake, look for rakes labeled “no clog.” These will be easier to manage and collect more leaves.

Check The Weather

Don’t rake in the heavy wind. But if there is a light breeze, use this to your advantage. A light breeze can push the leaves in the right direction. If it is raining, wait to rake as the leaves will stick together, making it challenging to complete the job.

Raking Tips

The last thing you want to do is hurt your back or waste too much time on yardwork! Try these tips to keep your outdoor chores short and pain-free.

Proper Form

When raking, you are just gliding the top of the lawn, so you don’t need to exert much pressure on the ground. Always stand straight and alternate, leading hands on the rake to prevent arm or shoulder pain. Use small movements, and don’t overextend your reach.

Rake Interrupted

Raking leaves is a process and can take a whole afternoon. You might get interrupted to take care of the kids, answer the phone, or just take a beverage break. Before leaving your leafy pile unattended, step on the leaves to compact them so they won’t fly away.

Rake in Rows

DIvide your lawn into quadrants and rake each quadrant in a row. This makes it easier to clean up. If you rake your leaves into one center pile, you will be wasting time and energy running to each side.

Tools to Help Collect and Pick Up Leaves

A quick trip to the hardware store or your own garage and you can find additional tools to help get rid of those piles of leaves you spent all morning and afternoon raking.

Use a Tarp

Rake the leaves onto a tarp. Then, either pull the four corners together to transport the leaves to the collection center. Or roll the tarp like a funnel and use it to fill individual garden disposal bags. This makes bagging or transporting them much easier than trying to fill bags with armloads of leaves. Make sure to bag the leaves right away. If you take a break, the wind can undo all of your hard work.

Leaf Vacuum

If you have leaves in hard to get areas, a leaf vacuum is an excellent option to get those leaves in the corners, under bushes, and other hard to rake areas. Leaf vacuums are safe to use around flower beds and more delicate areas of your yard and garden.

Leaf Blowers

A leaf blower is a good option if you have a large area to clean. Leaf blowers are powerful and can quickly move your leaves into a pile for quick bagging. Because of the powerful blower, it is best to use leaf blowers in open spaces and not around flower beds.

What to Do With the Leaves?

Now that all of your leaves are in piles, what next? In some places, the city will haul the leaves away for you. But many landfills do not take leaves. So here are a few ideas of things to do with your pile of leaves.

Use as Garden Mulch

If you plan to use the leaves as mulch in the garden, get out the lawnmower and mow them before raking. Mowing the leaves will help break them, making them easier to use in the garden. This is a good option if you also have pine needles throughout your yard.

Create a Compost Pile

Adding leaves to compost is a great way to recycle the leaves to use for your future garden as compost. Compost requires green material like grass clippings and eggshells, but they also need brown material like raked leaves. Depending on the size of your compost and the time dedicated to growing the compost pile, it can take anywhere from one to two years before you can use the compost as the soil in the garden.

Bagging Leaves

If you plan to bag the leaves for the city to pick up, it is best to use biodegradable garden bags. If you don’t have clear biodegradable garden bags you can also use brown paper bags.

When to Call the Pros

If you don’t have the time or energy to rake leaves yourself, you can always hire a professional landscaper. Professional yard care services can remove the leaves for you, which is a great option if you are too busy or have health issues keeping you from raking.

Leaving fall foliage on the ground can harm the grass by smothering it. When grass is smothered, it blocks the air and sun, creating mold, leaving you with brown moldy grass in the spring. And if unwanted critters like voles and mice take up in the leaves on the ground, the lawn damage in the spring will be excessive. While raking leaves may not be your favorite fall activity, it is necessary to maintain your lawn. Raking leaves doesn’t have to be a terrible chore. Wear the right clothes and use the right equipment, and you can take care of the leaves in no time. 

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