If your yard is anything like mine, it’s now littered with the crispy evidence of winter’s approach. While I love this time of year, like most homeowners I dread autumn’s most daunting chore: leaf removal.
Here’s some tips to keep make your leaf lifting load a little lighter:
1. Keep mowing! If you haven’t yet hit a period of frequent frosts, you’ll want to continue to mow into mid fall. Don’t double your work by raking just yet. If you have a power mower, you can mulch the leaves with you grass clippings. When the grass stops growing, then you can turn your attention to the fallen foliage.
2. Don’t procrastinate. If you want your lawn to look nice in the spring, you can’t just ignore those leaves. Working on the leaves a bit every couple of weeks is much easier than waiting to do it one swoop…if you wait, the task will seem insurmountable and result in much heavier work.
3. Rake or Blower? Blowers are great if your leaves are dry, but damp leaves don’t respond well to these expensive appliances. Also, gas-powered blowers are noisy, smelly and not that great for the environment. If you really want to use a blower (and places like the roof sometime require one), try using an electric one.
The humble rake is honestly the best tool for the job, but naturally can be a problem for the back. If you’ve got a lot of leaves to gather, consider investing a little extra into an ergonomically designed rake. Rakes with curved handles and wide blades help conserve your efforts and save your back. Foam-cushioned handles and gloves will help keep your hands happy, as well.
4. “Shred,” she said. So what will you do with all those leaves? Many local governments have leaf collection programs that allow homeowners to either put the leaves in the street, or amass them for a designated pick up.
While I’m not a fan of using unnecessarily elaborate garden tools, I’ve become sold on the practicality of a leaf shredder (preferably electric). While it’s certainly an option to compost your whole leaves into leaf mold (a type of compost) over a couple of year’s time, true garden gold comes from mixing your green garden and food refuse with your leaves in the active compost pile.
For most people, it’s not practical to compost the amount of whole leaves their yard will generate. But shredding leaves turns 10 bags into one, and creates a material that allows water to permeate and more quickly decompose this organic material into a valuable garden additive. Even if you’re not going to compost, reducing the volume of your leaves with a shredder saves a ton of space in landfills.
5. Ask for help! Get the kids involved for some seasonal fun and even a romp in the leaf piles! “Many hands make light work” is a truism never more apparent than in garden work! Also, if your lawn is huge, you may want to consider paying some local teenagers to give you a hand for a couple of hours. Time is money! So you’ll be the best judge how much yard help is worth to you! (My dad used to say: “I’ve got more time than money.”)
Hope these tips help you make the most of the season’s most dreaded task, and give you more time to enjoy the waning warm-ish weather. Before you know it, we’ll be faced with the next most hated homeowner quandary: snow removal!
This is a guest post from R. Rebecca Carter, a Web Content Strategist for Quicken Loans who writes about personal finance, VA loans and mortgage refinance. When she’s not planning a home improvement project or obsessing over her budget, you can find her walking her dogs or raking leaves.