Trees provide shelter and shade, they attract song birds and other wildlife, and add natural beauty to our yards and landscapes. Not to mention the glorious way they take in carbon dioxide and expel oxygen for us to breathe, thereby purifying our air. But there comes a time, once a year, when we all hate trees: autumn. There are two categories of trees: deciduous and coniferous. Deciduous are the ones with leaves, while coniferous grow needles. Deciduous trees are the ones we hate come autumn, for all the mess and debris they leave all over our yards. Eliminating these leaves is a necessary part of winterizing our backyards. Keeping the yard tidy has aesthetic value, enabling us to walk freely and look out to a neat, trim landscape, but leaf removal also has practical uses.
When leaves fall, they create a suffocating blanket atop the grass. No light gets through to the ground, and this attracts a lot of bugs, and leads to yard rot. Moisture collects, and since the sun cannot dry out the moisture, and there is no oxygen, you get a situation of nasty decomposition. There are three possibilities when it comes to leaf removal:
1. Rake it all by hand
Of course, raking is a lot of work and can be a bit much on top of our day jobs and other autumn activities, but if you have kids, raking is a great way to get them involved in some yardwork, and at the end they’ll have a blast jumping into the pile of leaves. Just make sure you rake with them so they don’t hold it against you. Raking is a great workout if that’s what you’re looking for, and is the most cost-effective solution to leaf removal. Just be sure to wear gardening gloves to avoid those nasty blisters.
2. Mulch them using a lawn mower
Come autumn, you’ll want to drop the mower blade to its lowest possible point. The shorter you keep the grass, the easier it will be to collect leaves from it, as short blades can’t catch or hold leaves. You’ll want to use a mower without the bag so as to chop up the leaves and spit out their tiny, mulched crumbs. These crumbs then become compost and give nutrients to the soil.
3. Hire a landscaper to take care of it
Getting someone else to do the work is always a nice luxury, but the problem with luxury is that not everyone can afford it. Hiring a landscaper for seasonal work is good, but leaf removal is something that has to be done repeatedly (weekly or more) until the snow falls. Not to mention you’ll likely have leaves from neighbouring trees. However, if you have the means and can’t be bothered to remove the leaves yourselves, go for it!
4. Use a leaf blower
Read our reviews of the best high powered leaf blowers!
This is the most efficient way to gather leaves all into one pile. Leaf blowers are convenient tools for clearing out large areas with minimal effort, but be warned: the wrong leaf blower will have you doing just as much work holding it and directing it around as you would a rake. We have reviewed some awesome models on the market right now; take a look at our reviews and find the right tool for your needs. Leaf blowers can be just that: simple blowers that propel air to push leaves and debris away, or you can find models that are convertible vacuums and mulchers, and will take care of the whole leaf removal job from start to finish. Keep in mind that when using a leaf blower, you should collect the leaves so they don’t blow right back to where they were.
Leaf blowers are ideal for those tricky spots where a rake won’t fit, like under the fence or in the garden. You can also use leaf blowers to remove grass clippings and other debris when needed. Since leaf blowers are essentially wind machines, you’ll want to either use one on a still day, or on day when the wind blows the leaves in the direction you want them. Don’t waste energy! Of course, dry leaves are easier to move than wet leaves. Even the strongest leaf blower may struggle if you’ve got a thick pile of wet leaves: save the chore for when they’ve dried a little.
Don’t worry if you miss some leaves here and there. You’ll want to go around the yard and rake those up afterward.
We recommend planning a pile location before you start, and to lay a tarp here. That way you can blow all the leaves together in a pile and easily haul them to wherever you’re going with that there pile of leaves. Be sure to continuously blow the leaves in one direction. Also, hold the blower at your side, pointing the front end at the ground, at a shallow angle. This will move the leaves without making them fly up. Walk slowly, and use a gentle back and forth motion.