Raking is not the most fun way to collect dry leaves during the fall. When I was a kid, I had to rake big piles of dead leaves not just at my house but at my grandparent’s house as well.
Sure, it’s fun to jump into giant piles of leaves, but raking is just another end-of-the-year chore when you grow up. It wasn’t until I started doing landscaping that I discovered it’s not even the fastest way to remove piles of leaves from your property.
There are so many methods of leaf removal that do not involve raking but can still add dry leaves to compost piles or be added as a natural fertilizer to cool-season grasses. The leaf removal process can be tricky, especially if you have a big yard or lots of garden beds and yard ornaments.
But with the right tools and a good strategy, you can clear a layer of leaves from your yard without ever touching a rake.
What Garden Tools Can Remove Leaves?
If you will forgo the leaf rake, you will need another suitable tool to help you remove leaves from your lawn. A leaf blower, mower attachment, or other tools can be used to make rakeless leaf raking even easier. Not all tools are suitable for all yards, and this is where strategy comes in.
Large lawns may need equipment like a lawn sweeper or riding lawn mower with an expanded grass catcher. Smaller yards with obstacles, such as bird baths or clotheslines, may be better suited for a leaf blower or leaf vacuum.
Regardless of your lawn type, there are clever products to clear yard waste without you grabbing your ideal leaf rake.
|Leaf Blower||Effective tool for moving leaves out of corners and from behind obstructions||Gas-powered leaf blowers can be very noisy and need fuel and maintenance, and other expenses to operate|
|Leaf Vacuum||Gets leaves out of tight areas without damaging plants or structures||Time-consuming and works best combined with other leaf disposal methods|
|Mower Bag||This attaches to a lawn mower and can catch leaf debris and grass clippings as you mow the lawn||It only works on parts of the lawn you can mow, and leaf bags have limited space, meaning lots of time spent dumping and reattaching|
|Mower Mulcher||Chops big autumn leaves that have fallen from deciduous trees into leaf clippings that add extra nutrients to the lawn||If there are large amounts of leaves, mulching may result in moldy leaves harming your grass and stunt early spring grass from reaching its normal height|
With an ergonomic handle and the ability to go from a gentle breeze to gale-force winds, the leaf blower is one of the best ways to move large amounts of leaves in a very little amount of time.
Autumn leaves can be moved from a garden with leaves without disturbing the mulch with a leaf blower in a way a rake cannot. For the best results, make sure you know where you plan to blow leaves, or else you may end up fighting the wind and making a bigger mess.
Electric leaf blowers do not have all the maintenance issues of a gas-powered blower. However, they are equally loud but in a high-pitched way that many people find irritating.
Electric leaf blowers also work well in a garden with leaves and blowing dry leaf litter off of pathways into the lawn. Even if you will be using a rake, having a leaf blower for some of the larger tasks can really make this household woe a little less stressful.
Getting deciduous leaves out of your lawn with a leaf vacuum can be really handy. You push the nozzle behind bushes and shrubs and under plants to clear out all of the leaves trapped there.
Other areas, like under porches and decks where dry leaf debris may become nests for rodents and other critters, can be cleared out with a leaf vacuum.
For large yards, you can use a lawn mower leaf vacuum which attaches to riding mowers and pairs up with a large leaf collector machine to hold the leaves in expanded leaf bags.
A leaf vacuum can help you clear a small number of leaves out from hard-to-reach places but will not be anywhere as fast as other leaf removal equipment. A blower or rake that piles the leaves into one spot that can then be vacuumed is much for effective than running around trying to suck up every leaf where it lies.
Mower attachments like a lawn mower leaf vacuum or mulching attachment can help you clear leaves without needing a rake. By combining your normal fall mowing routine with a leaf collector machine or an attachment that makes tiny little leaf clippings, you can save time and effort with leaf disposal.
These leaf pickup tools can be attached when it is leaf collecting season and then stored for the rest of the year, reducing the cost and maintenance associated with long-term storage of fuel and gas-powered machines.
There are limitations to mower attachments that handheld tools do not have. Mower tools are limited to what you can mow over, which excludes areas that may be covered in the most leaves, like around trees and in garden beds.
It is a good idea to use a leaf blower or rake to move the leaves into your lawn and then use the mower attachments for the desired results.
What is the Fastest Leaf Removal Method?
While it can be hard to determine what exactly is the best method of leaf removal, I have enough experience to talk about what works for me. With lawn cleanup, it’s always important to work as if you are pushing everything to a collection point and using your tools to achieve the simplest form of collection possible. For best results, I use these methods:
Mowing and Blowing
Most seasoned landscapers will use the blow-and-mow method. The goal is to move all the leaves from around the yard into one pile and then hit that with the mower.
At this point, you can either bag it with the mower bag or mulch it, depending on your end goal. If you will be leaving the mulch, you can once again use the blower to break up any clumps of grass or leaf litter that may become moldy leaves in wet winter conditions.
Leave the Leaves
Another method I use a lot is to simply leave the leaves. While some spreading out may be needed to make sure there is an even layer, leaves make an amazing organic mulch and can keep susceptible plants warm during winter frost conditions.
Grass can benefit from the natural fertilizer decaying leaves provide but make sure to mulch them for the best results.
Leaves that fall on garden beds help naturally winterize them, and of course, anything near the compost pile can just be added easily if more brown material is needed.
Bag and Compost
Using a mower bag to collect the fallen leaves and dumping them into the compost pile can also help you get rid of leftover leaves quickly. Composts always need helpings of carbon-rich brown material, and leaves offer them in spades.
Make sure to mulch the leaves to speed up the decomposition time, so you will have crumbly, fertile compost ready for use in your spring garden.