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6 Leaf Cleanup Tips

A red rake by a pile of leaves in a green lawn

Autumn is arguably the most enjoyable season of the year: temperatures begin to cool off, the leaves begin to turn, and families can spend more time outside in the cool, comfortable weather. With leaves turning and the weather cooling though, you can expect to see your lawn covered with fallen leaves in a matter of days. 

Do I have to rake leaves?

Close-up of fallen leaves in the grass with the sun shining in the distant horizon

The answer is yes. Leaves left unattended are not only an eyesore, but they can also damage your lawn in a variety of ways. Leaves can deprive your lawn of adequate nutrition by blocking water, nutrients, and healthy air from reaching the roots, invite lawn pests, diseases, and problems like snow mold and brown patch, and block one of the most important elements for growing healthy grass: sunlight. 

These six tips will help make your leaf cleanup more efficient this fall.

1. Develop a Cleanup Game Plan

Open grassy area with some leaves on the ground

Before you start cleaning up leaves, check your local area for guidelines and regulations for disposing of yard waste. You don’t want to move a pile of leaves to the curb to find out that leaf pickup doesn’t start for 2 weeks.

2. Start Early

It is best to start leaf clean up early in the season as this will allow for many small cleanups rather than tackling one large mountainous leaf project. Depending upon the amount of leaves in your area, you can utilize your lawn mower to mulch the leaves into the turf of the grass. If there are too many leaves to mulch into the turf, use the bagger attachment on your mower. The bagger attachment will allow you to tackle two jobs simultaneously - mowing and picking up leaves.

3. Utilize Power Equipment

Person using a leaf blower to clear leaves from driveway

We recommend using a leaf blower to reduce the physical strain of fall cleanup. If you do not own a leaf blower, you’ve come to the right place. We have a large selection of blowers including gas blowers, electric blowers, and even state of the art battery powered blowers. Many of our local, independently owned Do it Best stores have a rental department, reducing the cost of a power equipment investment.

Got a brand new leaf blower or just now digging it out of the garage since last year? Make your job easier by following these steps:

  • Wait until the leaves are dry before using a leaf blower. Wet leaves are hard to move unless you are using a high-powered blower.

  • Blow leaves into smaller piles rather than blowing them across the yard.

  • Use the wind to your advantage. Before you start moving the leaves, take a minute to determine wind direction and blow with the wind.

4. Use the Correct Rake

If you don't need a leaf blower for the size of your yard, a sturdy rake is the next best thing. Using the correct type of rake is essential for leaf clean up. Our guide below can help you choose a leaf rake that will best suit your specific needs.

Should I buy a plastic, metal, or bamboo rake head?

Other features to consider:

Is the rake head adjustable?

This is an important factor to consider when choosing a rake. These tine adjustments on a rake are used to control the flexibility of the tines for different raking conditions. For example, raking wet leaves requires more force from the tines. As a result, you would want to position your tines closer together to be more sturdy and less flexible.

How comfortable is the rake handle?

Since you will be most likely holding this rake for an extended amount of time, the handle is something you should examine. Rakes have come a long way and are now offered with ergonomic designs to reduce fatigue and injury. Rakes with a cushion grip could mean the difference between blisters or no blisters after a long work day.

5. Leaf Transportation

Man raking leaves on to a tarp in his yard

Once the leaves are put into piles, lay a tarp or a large blanket on the ground beside the pile. Then rake the pile onto the tarp/blanket. Next, grab all 4 corners of the tarp/blanket and slide it across the lawn to the desired location.

6. Leaf Pick Up

If your neighborhood requires that leaves be put in leaf bags, there are a few tricks that can speed up this bagging process.

  • A lawn & yard bag holder or a properly sized barrel will hold the bag open while packing with leaves.

  • Use a leaf scoop to drop the leaves into the bag. If you don’t own a leaf scoop, you can use your rake and your hand to grab the leaves.

Read next Fall Home Maintenance Checklist

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