Remove Fall Leaves the Smart Way!

Remove Fall Leaves the Smart Way!


Raking leaves is a no-brainer, right? Well, yes. But, it can also become back breaking work, consume more time than you like and become a hassle especially if you must bag everything in order to have the town cart it all away.

Fall foliage is beautiful, but what is currently hanging on the trees will soon grace your lawn. A blanket of leaves on the ground looks nice too and your kids will love raking everything into a pile and jumping into them time and again.

But, leaves get wet and soon begin to rot which means if you want to save your lawn, then you’ll have to remove them. Read on for some smart tips on how to tackle what sometimes becomes a huge fall lawn project:

Plan accordingly – Leaves turn and fall on their own time, which makes planning for fall clean up difficult to do. Shorter days mean you may only be able to clean up on weekends, but try to set aside on late afternoon each week to stay ahead of the yard debris. Turn on outside lights if necessary to stay up with the onslaught.

Get equipped – Unless your lot is postal stamp size, you’re going to need more than a rake to get the job done. Unless, of course, you don’t mind hours of backbreaking work. Rakes are great for getting leaves out of tight spaces and for giving detaching the lawn as you work. You’ll also want a leaf blower and a lawn mower to help you in your clean up. Chances are you already use this equipment at other times of the year.

Town policy – Your municipality has rules on how leaves can be disposed of. Most towns forbid burning which means you’ll either have to find a place in your yard for the leaves to decompose or put that at the curb for town pick up. Find out from the Department of Sanitation if plastic or paper bags are required or whether you can pile them along the curb for vacuum extraction. Some towns have set times when yard debris can be left at the curb, requiring barrels or bags at other times of the year.[1]

Consider mulching – If your mower has a mulching option, then consider leaving leaf debris behind. Chewed up leaves “provide a natural protective layer over the soil,” according to the Virginia Cooperative Extension.[2] Too many leaves, however, can choke out your lawn so be prepared to spread mulched material across your lawn and add some to your flower bed.

Sectional divide — Related to the first point made here, you’ll want to handle one section of your property at a time if you’re to get your leaves under control. If you rake on a windy day, you’ll want to work upwind. Down wind you’ll never clear your leaves, finding yourself frustrated as a fresh shower of leaves cover a recently raked or mowed lawn.

Some more things to consider: mowing or blowing leaves is nearly impossible to do; you’ll need to wait until everything dries or use a rake. Be careful about mulching oak leaves an pine needles as their high level of acidity can adversely impact your lawn.[3]


[1] City of Milwaukee: Fall Leaf Collection Guidelines

[2] Virginia Cooperative Extension: Mulching for a Healthy Landscape

[3] Ohio State University Extension: Mulching Landscape Plants

Photo Credit: Billy Alexander

Adv. — It isn’t too late to take out a private student loan for this semester. A Sallie Mae Smart Option Student Loan could be right for you, one way for you to close the college financing gap.


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Categories: Home Tips

About Author

Matthew C. Keegan

Matt Keegan is a freelance writer and editor as well as publisher of "Matt's Musings", his personal blog. Matt covers campus, consumer, business and financial topics on various websites and blogs, and has been published in the "Houston Chronicle", "Sam's Club Magazine" and "Wisconsin Golfer".