It's Fall and it's time to tackle all those leaves
All those leaves on your yard need to be raked, mulched, or blown, bagged, and composted. Why? If left on your lawn, those leaves will block sunlight from reaching your grass and can lead to lawn diseases like snow mold.
But how best to tackle that blanket of fall colors covering your grass, sidewalk, driveway, and even your roof? Grab your rake, a leaf blower, or mulching lawn mower, and let’s get started.
Choose your leaf removal tool
Removing leaves from your yard may sound like a tedious activity, but it doesn’t have to be hard. Chances are, you already have the leaf removal tools in your garage, and if you don’t, you can easily find them at a hardware or home improvement store.
A leaf rake will get those leaves out of your yard and twigs, and grass clippings, and anything else, but raking is back-straining work.
To make raking easier, choose a rake with an ergonomic handle and a lightweight design. If your leaf rake isn’t comfortable to hold and to use, it will increase the strain on your shoulders and back, making leaf removal much harder than it needs to be.
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Choose a leaf rake with a wide end. The wider your rake, the more leaves you can pick up with every sweep.
Leaf blowers are one of the most versatile landscaping tools you can buy. Homeowners and landscapers use them for dozens of tasks, including leaf removal and yard cleanup.
In general, leaf blowers are easy to use — and in many cases extremely noisy.
Check your local ordinances before buying a leaf blower as cities and states are increasingly banning gas-powered lawn care equipment because of their emissions. Some cities restrict leaf blowing times because of the noise.
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Mulching lawn mowers
If your lawn mower has a grass catcher, fall is the time to unhook it. If you have a mulching lawn mower, even better.
When your lawn is covered with leaves, it isn’t necessary to remove them before you mow. In fact, mowing over the leaves can create a nutritional, organic mulch for your lawn that provides all-natural fertilization during the fall and winter months.
Ideally, you should cut your leaf debris into dime-size pieces for it to be effective mulch. When you can see about half an inch of grass above the mulched layer of leaves, you’re finished.
It’s interesting how mulched leaves help lawns as the clippings go through their natural life cycle. Leaf bits will begin to settle into the soil and microorganisms will start the decomposition process.
This composts the leaf clippings into exceptional food for your lawn, making fallen leaves a valuable (yet often overlooked) resource for your yard.
How to rake your leaves
Raking leaves can be challenging work, but here are a few things you can do to make the job faster and easier:
How to hold your rake
Once you’ve found your ideal leaf rake, practice proper body position to make the job easier. Why this matters: If you don’t position your body the right way, you can increase strain on your joints in hands, making you uncomfortable.
Your hand positioning also is vital when you hold a rake. Here’s why: When you hold a rake correctly it will give you more power with each sweep.
You should grasp your leaf rake with both of your hands and reverse their positions regularly to reduce strain. You should hold your hands on the handle with a distance between them to maximize stability.
Try to keep your knees bent while you rake and don’t bend too much at the waist. When you bend at your knees instead of your waist, you take the strain off your back and hips.
Rake in the right direction
As you rake, it’s essential to do so in the right direction so you don’t push your leaves somewhere you’ve already worked, making your leaf removal process take longer.
We recommend moving backward as you rake. By taking small steps back and raking leaves toward you as you sweep your lawn, you can avoid spreading leaves where you don’t want them. You should try to make neat piles at the edge of your yard.
Take it slow while you rake. There’s no rush — the more thorough you are with each sweep, the less often you’ll need to do rake your lawn’s leaves.
Use a tarp for easy leaf cleanup
If you have a tarp, canvas cloth, or sheet that you’re not using, you can use it to transport dead leaves from your lawn after you rake.
Lay the tarp on the ground near your yard where you plan to rake. As you sweep the rake across your lawn, push the leaves onto the tarp for easy cleanup.
Try raking the leaves from one area of your lawn onto the tarp until it’s full. Once full, gently grab each edge to close the tarp and drag it wherever you’re disposing of your leaves.
Bag your leaves
Raking leaves into yard bags is another efficient way to get rid of them. Yard bags, as opposed to a tarp or a sheet, make it easy to transport leaves to your compost or mulch pile.
Once your leaves are in bags, stomp down on the leaves, which will give you more room. This will help you get the most out of your yard bags.
How to mulch your leaves
Start by mowing your lawn in stripes so you can go over the discharged leaf clippings from your previous passes, further reducing them in size and making them more effective mulch.
Mowing your lawn in concentric circles is another effective way to cut and re-cut the leaf debris.
Depending on the type of lawn mower you have, you can set your mower to “mulch” when you start your leaf removal process. This setting works best if your grass is at a normal height and your leaves aren’t too dry. Leaves with a moderate amount of moisture are the best candidates for mulching.
Start by inserting the mulch plug into your mower and closing the side discharge port. Once you’ve done this, mow your lawn as you would normally and after your first pass. Start a second pass at a right angle to the first. This will let you mulch your clippings back into the grass with ease.
Blow leaves onto a tarp
If you’re using a leaf blower, try using it alongside a tarp to make cleanup easier.
Fire up your leaf blower and start in the farthest lefthand corner of your lawn. Start blowing the leaves into a pile, onto a tarp near the edges.
Once you blow the leaves on a tarp, it will take only a few minutes to clean up and dispose of the clippings. To do this, fold the tarp over the leaves, hold it together tightly, and carefully drag it away.
What to do with all those leaves?
Now what can you do with the leaves you’ve raked or blown into a pile? We recommend composting any leaves you pick up during your fall maintenance routine. Leaves can make an excellent compost, which you can use next year as soil for your garden.
You also can mulch leaves to create a bed of nutrients for your grass.
By following the leaf removal tips in this guide, you can promote better health for your grass as it lies dormant during winter. Next spring, you will be greeted with a healthy, beautiful lawn.
Article courtesy of Lawn Love