Don’t fight the wind: If it’s a very windy day out, you may simply need to skip raking and wait for calmer weather. If the wind is mild, you can use it to your advantage, raking in the direction of the breeze. But don’t make your piles too high, as even moderate breezes can blow leaves all about.
Stomp on it: If you aren’t collecting leaves right after you make those leaf piles, then stomp on said piles to prevent them from blowing away. Yep, stomp on them. Doing so will compact the leaves and make them much less likely to drift off on you. And if you want to jump on the piles — or have the kids do it—that works too. Just don’t break up the piles while playing.
Rake onto a tarp: Even if you won’t be using a tarp to haul away your raked leaves as you see professional landscapers do, it’s still a good idea to rake your leaves onto a tarp. Doing so can make it much easier to get the leaves into bags, as you can lift the tarp, feed it partially into a bag, and then shake the leaves down.
Use your lawn mower to clean up leaves
A lawn mower can be a powerful ally in the fight against a leaf-strewn lawn. While most mowers won’t work well on wet leaves, your mower will make quick work of dry leaves, sucking them in, chopping them up, and collecting them for easy disposal later. (Also, shredded leaves will break down much more quickly in a compost bin or pile, so even if you plan to keep your leaves for use later, mowing them up can still be a good idea.) If your leaf cover isn’t too thick, consider using your mower to make them into mulch, letting the chopped leaves fall back onto the grass instead of collecting them. This is also a great approach after a quicker first pass with the rake, with the mower processing the ones that escaped you before.
Is a leaf blower better than a rake?
Leaf blowers can be much more efficient than rakes and, for properties of a large enough size, they may be the viable choice for leaf collection. But note that gasoline-powered leaf blowers are bad news for the environment and positively spew out pollutants. They are also incredibly noisy, so much so that you must wear hearing protection to use them. Electric leaf blowers are a far better choice if you choose to use a blower at all, but for smaller leaf collection jobs, nothing matches the precision of a classic rake.
Are fallen leaves good for the grass?
Yes, actually, leaves are good for lawns. A layer of leaves left to break down over the course of the late autumn, winter, and into the spring can be a great source of nitrogen and other nutrients for the grass, and if you can stand to look at leaves lying on the ground for months on end, by all means, leave them. But not all of them: Too thick a carpet of leaves will risk smothering the grass, so it’s a good idea to rake up the bulk of the leaves and then leave the last that fall alone, creating a natural fertilizer for your property.
How to dispose of leaves
Okay, so the raking is done and the piles are made… how to best get rid of those leaves? If you live in an area that collects yard waste, then you can simply bag them up and place them at the curb on the day of the collection and that’s that. If need be, you can also haul leaves to the local landfill and toss them that way. Just make sure you are allowed to do so, as some areas restrict what can be thrown in landfills.
But the best way to dispose of leaves you have raked off your lawn is to put them right back to use on your property. You can spread leaves chopped small by a mower or leaf vacuum out on the grass as a healthy mulch, or you can compost leaves. You can also leave the leaves in a pile and let them break down into what’s called leaf mold and spread this out on the grass later.
If you’re making compost that will be used to add nutrients to a garden or flower bed, it’s important that you also add in other organic materials such as vegetable scraps or mowed green grass. Make sure to turn and mix the compost at least once a month, and by the time spring comes around, you’ll have buckets of rich, healthy organic material you can put to work.