Just for fun, take an inventory of all the leaf removal tools cluttering your garage.
Bet you’ve got a half-dozen rakes of different sizes and materials, maybe a blower or two in various states of repair, and maybe even some kickstarter gadget you thought would make it easier. Fewer gizmos — but the right ones — and more elbow grease help homeowners remove leaves and keep up with lawn maintenance, says Brett Lemcke of R. M. Landscape Inc. in Rochester, NY.
“The reality is, you can’t avoid hard work” when it comes to fall landscaping chores, says Lemcke. “There are some tools that will help us, but the best help is family and friends. The more hands, the better. Doing it yourself is daunting.”
Unless you tether a mower to a stick and let it mulch leaves all by itself.
Whether you rake, blow, or tie a mower to a stick, you should remove leaves at least twice each fall. “Some people wait until every last leaf falls, and then they pick them up,” Lemke says. “You should pick them up throughout the season. Don’t wait until the last minute.”
These four tools will help make the task less daunting.
#1 Rigid Leaf Rake
This plastic, fan-shaped rake is your go-to rake for collecting leaves. Pick one with a cushion handle and a 30- to 36-inch fan. Avoid the super-wide fans that can spread to 48 inches; they’re too big to rake between shrubs and in flower beds.
Cost: $10-$20 (30-inch fan).
#2 Leaf Tarp
Instead of scooping leaves into a million plastic bags, rake or blow them into a big pile on top of a polypropylene leaf tarp. Then drag the tarp to the curb and dump.
Cost: $22 for 12.5-by-10-ft. tarp.
#3 Leaf Blower
Select a two-cycle, gasoline-powered blower to collect leaves in tarps or blow them directly to the curb. If you have a large yard, buy a backpack model, which is more expensive but more comfortable than handheld blowers.
Cost: 2-cycle handheld blower is $180; 2-cycle backpack blower is $300.
#4 Yard Vacuum
This tool vacuums, shreds, chips, and bags leaves and other yard debris. Once leaves are ground up, they’ll decompose quickly in your compost pile. Or, even better, they make great mulch!
Related: Tips on How to Mulch on the Cheap