There are things in life we can’t avoid and if you have tons of leaves on your property, raking leaves is one of them.
Unless you live in a tropical paradise it’s just part of life. If you are one of those lucky people, feel free to send me an invite!
For the rest of us, a few tips and tricks can make life a little easier this fall season.
We’ve not only put together the perfect list to help you make the task of raking your leaves easier this fall, we’ve also developed a list of the tools that can help you as well.
Some of the leaf collection equipment we’ve included will probably be quite familiar, but there are a few cool surprises as well.
We can’t take the chore out of raking leaves, but we can show you the best way to clean up leaves and maybe have a little fun with the kids in the process.
Tips for Raking Leaves this Fall
1. Avoid Windy Days or At Least Don’t Fight It
For starters, it’s a good idea to avoid windy days. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve walked by a neighbour fighting the wind while raking leaves.
I shake my head every time I see this. Why create extra work for yourself?
Unless you absolutely have to wait for a calm day to rake up your leaves. It will save you a lot of time and frustration to wait for the right conditions.
If you have to work in the wind, try to use it to your advantage. Figure out which way the wind’s blowing and push your piles in that direction.
If you can, pile them up against a fence so they stay put while you bag them or compost them.
Work smarter – not harder.
2. Timing is Everything
My parents live on a street lined with beautiful old trees – they’re enormous.
It makes for a scenic drive every time I visit, but it also makes for a nightmare when raking season arrives.
What I’ve learned is this – timing is everything when it comes to raking leaves in this type of scenario.
There’s no point raking leaves every time you see a bit of a pile on the ground. The fastest way to rake leaves is to wait until the trees are bare.
For the person that doesn’t like clutter it may seem like torture waiting, but you’ll be glad you did when you realize how much time you’ll save in the end.
3. Pay Attention to What Your Body is Telling You
If you’re stubborn like me, it’s hard to walk away from a task once you’ve started it.
As you rake up all those leaves on a Sunday afternoon your body may be screaming in agony, but you keep going.
Stop! Pay attention to what you’re body’s telling you.
There isn’t much satisfaction in knowing you got the job done if you’re going to be laid up in bed for a few days.
If you need to split the task over several days do it. It isn’t a race. In the end, you’ll get the task done.
If it does take a little longer than you had planned so what? And don’t forget to bend at the knees to avoid back problems!
4. Large Yard – Take Breaks
Even if you are in great physical shape, it’s not a bad idea to take breaks – especially if you have a large yard.
Personally, I like to work for about 20 minutes and then rest for five, but everyone’s different.
The important thing is to find a comfortable pace that works for you.
Your body will tell you when it’s time to take five – you just have to listen to what it’s telling you.
5. Getting the Kids Involved – Stomp Time!
We all remember having fun playing in the leaf piles when we were kids. It’s a universally acknowledged favorite past time for children.
Why not get the kids to help? It’s a great way to spend time together. You can enjoy some family time and get some work done in the process.
Let them stomp away on this piles – they’ll love it and you’re leaf piles will be nice and compact and ready to bag.
This may not be the most efficient way to pick up leaves, but it is a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon with the family.
The extra hour it may take will be well worth it.
6. One Big Pile Vs Smaller Ones
There are different schools of thought on how to pile leaves.
Some people like to make one big gigantic pile and others find several smaller piles a better way to go.
I’d place myself firmly in the second category. Smaller piles are easier to work with and tend to stay in place better.
I try to organize them in piles big enough to fill one bag. It’s efficient and seems to make the process go quicker.
7. Wait till it’s Dry
Have you ever tried picking up wet leaves? It’s not much fun.
They tend to stick to the rake and you never know what you may find crawling around in them.
You’ll likely find they’re harder to rake up as well. It’s always best to wait for a dry day to rake up your leaves from the yard.
Dry leaves won’t stick to the ground or your leaf clearing equipment. They’re also a lot less messy. It makes for a more pleasant experience.
Tools for Leaf Cleaning
1. Fan Rake or Power Rake?
A traditional fan rake is a staple in most backyard sheds. These are rakes with a large set of metal or plastic blades that fan out to cover a lot of ground.
The blades are flexible, which makes it easier to grab a hold of the leaves and pull. They do a fine job, but working with one can be hard work.
An alternative is a power rake. This is a machine that looks like a lawn mower, but it has more blades on the bottom to capture debris.
Using one of these machines can speed up the process considerably. Mowers with a mulching options serve a similar purpose.
2. A Tarp Can be Useful
Picking up the leaves once you have them in nice neat piles can be frustrating. If you use your hands, you’re bound to leave a lot behind.
You can also use the rake blade to assist you, but chances are there will still be some debris left on the ground.
A possible solution for this problem is to use a tarp. Instead of simply raking leaves in piles on the ground, you rake them on to a tarp.
It’s one of the best ways to pick up leaves without leaving a mess behind. You can use any tarp, but there are ones you can buy that are designed for the purpose.
Some can even be tied off and used in place of brown bags.
3. Leaf Blower
Everyone has his or her favorite yard toys and for me it’s the leaf blower. These handy little machines can save your back a lot of pain.
Instead of raking the leaves using your own muscles, you let the blower do the work. There are both electric and gas models depending on your preference.
Using a leaf blower is one of the easiest ways to create your leaf piles. It can easily cut your work time in half.
That will leave you free to spend more time on the things you really want to be doing.
4. Power Leaf Collector – Vacuum
Picking up the leaves after you’ve formed them into piles is one of the least exciting parts of the job. It can be messy – especially if the leaves are a little wet.
Using gloves will keep your hands from getting dirty, but it can still be quite messy and some people just don’t like the idea of getting that close to decaying leaves.
An alternative is to use a power leaf collector or lawn vacuum. If you opt for one of these, you don’t really have to rake up the leaves at all.
You simply suck up the leaves and empty your machine when it gets full. Nice and simple.
The only drawback is that they don’t generally have a lot of storage capacity, so you will have to empty them frequently.
5. Mulching Mower
A mulching mower is one of the most popular options for homeowners these days.
It performs the same function as a power rake, but it’s a function built-in to your lawn mower.
These machines are more expensive than standard mowers, but less expensive than owning a mower and a power rake.
In the long run it saves you money and can make short work of a leaf covered lawn.
6. Leaf Scoops
If you do prefer to use a manual rake you can still make cleaning up leaves once they’re in piles a relatively pain free process.
Instead of using your own hand you can purchase a pair of leaf scoops. These typically look like a pair of oversized hard plastic gloves with some teeth on the end.
All you have to do is slide them on your hands and then scoop up the leaves.
It’s one of the easiest ways to pick up leaves and you don’t leave a lot behind. You get most of the leaves in your bag on the first attempt.
7. Alternative Leaf Cleaning Solution
If you’re on a tight budget and you can’t afford extra equipment you may already have a simple solution in your shed.
Instead of using a rake to organize your leaves in piles why not try that weed trimmer that you already own?
When the blade on your trimmer spins it creates a little mini wind shovel which can push your leaves into piles.
It may sound a little unconventional, but it works.
I saw a neighbour cleaning the leaves off his lawn using this method a few years ago and decided to try it. I’d say it saved me ½ an hour – easy.
8. Leaf Chute
Bagging leaves is one of the most frustrating parts of the job.
The leaves never seem to want to cooperate and go in the bag nicely. It usually takes a couple of attempts to get it all in there.
A leaf chute is a great solution to this problem. You place these plastic or metal devices at the top of the bag so that you can funnel leaves into the opening.
It’s a lot cleaner and a lot quicker.
They’re widely available and don’t normally cost much more than $20.
9. Compost or Brown Bags
You can’t forget to have a place to put your leaves once you’ve raked them.
If you have a compost great, if not brown bags can be purchased anywhere.
You’ll need to make sure you have a healthy supply of them before you begin raking.
10. Proper Attire
There are some that don’t mind getting their hands dirty, for the rest of us a good pair of gloves is in order.
Any type of gardening glove is fine and they’re quite inexpensive.
If you find the fall a bad time for allergies you may also want to consider a mask.
Leaves can be full of little spores and allergens that can make breathing difficult for some.
Most local hardware stores carry masks you can use for this purpose and drug stores carry them as well.
Don’t forget to dress warmly as well. All the colors in the fall can be beautiful, but they’re also a clear sign of colder weather.
A coat may not be necessary, but a pair of pants and a warm sweater are always a good idea when you’re working outside in the fall.
The fall can be a beautiful season. There’s no other time of year when so many different colors are on display.
Cleaning leaves is just something you have to except as Mother Nature’s price for such a beautiful display.
As long as you have the right tools for the job it’s a small price to pay.