Leaves, Leaves everywhere: Best leaf pick-up and removal tips for homeowners

Fall is such a beautiful time of year. Sometimes the beauty of the season can get lost on those of us who own homes surrounded by 100 hundred year old oaks and breathtaking maples. But what if leaf pick-up and removal wasn’t as difficult as we made it? Here are a few tips for leaf collection and pick-up so that fall can once again be your favorite season.

orange maple leaves

Tip #1: Don’t get rid of all the leaves

Instead of making your yard look pristine prior to the first snow, many horticulture experts advise against full removal. First of all get a ​mulching blade​ for your mower. They are approximately $35-$120 and can last a number of seasons depending on the size of your yard. These blades will chop up the leaves enough to allow them to compost under the snow and actually feed and benefit your lawn. You will want to go over your yard a couple of times to make sure they are chopped finely enough to compost during the winter.

Also, instead of paying for someone to haul all those leaves off, consider creating your own compost pile! It is an environmentally and yard-friendly thing to do. Find a nice corner in your yard to create your pile. The more moisture the leaves start with the less you need to water them. They need to be thoroughly damp as it will aid in the breakdown. The snowfall in Michigan will help keep them moist, and the leaves will compost over the winter and spring and become great fertilizer for your lawn and garden next summer.

Tip #2: Buy that leaf blower

man walking with leaf blower

While there is certainly a ​learning curve to using a leaf blower,​ it is an amazing tool that can help you minimize the back-breaking work of leaf collection. Leave blowers range from an​ $80 Ryobi battery operated blower​ to a ​$300 gas backpack 250 mph leaf blower​ all the way up to ​$500+ push blowers​. Features to look for are: strength, weight, and power source.

It bears mentioning that we have all had that neighbor who gets up far too early with the loudest leaf blower built, so for the sake of being neighborly and for your own auditory health, check the decibels at which the leaf blower of your choice operates. Many municipalities do have noise ordinances, so it might be wise to check those out before purchasing. According to ​Consumer Reports​, you should also consider your yard size, terrain, and of course, the budget.

Tip #3: Have the right tools

When you have to or want to pick-up and remove your leaves the old-fashioned way, there are some tools that are must have’s to save yourself hours of time and endless backaches.

Making the piles

Not all rakes are created equal, nor are they useful for all types of leaf removal work. There are a few types of rakes that are purposely made for different terrain and different phases of leaf removal. If you have some large wet piles of leaves you may want to use a ​wide-toothed metal lawn rake​. These rakes are heavy duty and more often used to spread dirt piles and rocks, but can work well when you have heavy piles of leaves.

Obviously, a quality leaf rake is mandatory. These rakes are wider and lighter than the lawn rake. They come in bamboo, light-weight metal, and plastic. They collect the leaves into piles but are not good for moving large piles of leaves. The ​steel ones​ are great for moving leaves from mulched areas and difficult to reach areas. The leaves often get stuck in the teeth, but it can be worth it to get most of the leaves with one swipe. ​Wide plastic lawn rakes​ are a must. You will be able to rake wide swaths of leaves. The leaves do not get stuck in the teeth as much, but the light plastic doesn’t pick up all the leaves, so you often have to go over areas multiple times.

A ​short-handled miniature metal lawn rake ​is a must if you have hard to reach areas, shrubs to get under, and flowers and plants to rake around. They are highly maneuverable, so you don’t destroy your plants. A ​pushable leaf sweeper​ is a pretty outstanding idea. The jury may still be out on how good they are in the long-term, but it may be worth it! ​Reusable leaf tarps​ that you can rake leaves onto and then move to a trailer or a compost pile are also a smart and inexpensive tool.

Moving the piles

The ease at which you can remove piles is as you know equally important! The​ Amazing Rake​ is one item that has shown up on the lawn care scene. It helps you grab the leaves with a handy lever and grabbing motion that keeps you from bending over to pick up leaves. People have also raved about the Edward Scissorhands leaf removal tool of choice, ​leaf grabbers​. They allow you to pick up large amounts with one “handful.” You vacuum your house so why not your yard? You can get a ​three-in-one, blower, mulcher, and vacuum​ that will come in quite handy to pick up those leaves without breaking your back. It is a bit expensive, but may well be worth it.

Tip #4: When in doubt, or just stressed out—HIRE out!

boy jumping in pile of leaves

Are you still waking up in a cold sweat wondering how you will ever find the time to remove the mountains of leaves from your lawn (and that blizzard is on the horizon…)? If the stress of removal is bogging you down, it’s likely time to call a lawn service company and get your lawn on their calendar. It is okay to take care of yourself and treat yourself when tasks become overwhelming!

Bring back your fall enjoyment by making an investment in the tools you need to easily and successful remove the piles of leaves in your yard. It may be the attachment to your mower or it may be hiring a lawn service, but whatever it is, give yourself permission to enjoy this lovely season. You will likely never regret a purchase that gives you more time to sit on your back porch and enjoy the last days of warmer weather.

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