Leaf It Alone.... Or Not: Seven Tips for Leaf Removal

Kristin Luna

As summer fades into fall, the temperature lowers, the days shorten and your yard becomes awash in color. But the changing of the leaves also means one thing: a whole lot more yard maintenance on your part.

Leaf Raking from TruValue

There are typically two removal points throughout the fall as the trees drop leaves at different times depending on the species and severity of the weather. Leaving them on the ground for the winter is not a good idea in any circumstance as they will turn into slimy -- and likely, infested -- sheets of goop that stain everything black.

Instead of avoiding the inevitable, try these tips to keep your leaf removal as pain-free as possible:
  1. Time the raking and blowing after a dry weather spell -- heavy leaves are no fun for anyone to pick up and move around, even with power tools.
  2. A week after a good storm is the ideal time to remove leaves as a larger volume of plant material will have blown to the ground and they will be crispy, dry and, most importantly, light.
  3. Virtually all communities in the United States have a leaf collection program during the fall. These programs often let homeowners pile up the leaves on the sidewalk for collection by a city vacuum truck. Some communities require bagging in compost-friendly bags. Check with your local waste management department about policies.
  4. Depending on your energy level for the work and the tools you have available, it's often easiest to pay a lawn service company to come out with pro tools like a blower and shredder -- in addition to a crew of workers -- to spiff up the yard after the first heavy leaf drop. Do the secondary leaf drop yourself with simple hand tools like a rake and tarp.
  5. If you DIY and don't own a blower, you'll need to pick up the following items: leaf rake, gloves, an extra-large tarp, and compost-friendly bags if your collection agency requires them. Rake the leaves into manageable piles and transport them to the tarp or bag before you drag them to the street.
  6. Allowing hardwood tree leaves to accumulate for weeks on a lawn will kill large portions of the grass by smothering light and creating perfect conditions for rapid fungi growth. In addition, buildup of plant matter in corners around the home are a prime breeding ground for nuisance pests like slugs, snails, fleas, and ticks.
  7. Make it fun for all. Because of the wild pops of color that occur when trees shed their leaves, fall is a perfect opportunity to take family photos, rake piles for the dog or kids to jump into, and craft artsy bouquets or wreaths.
Image from Tru-Value
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