10 Leaf-Raking Lessons No One Ever Taught You

Few things in nature are as striking as brilliant red and gold foliage in autumn. But even the most beautiful leaves eventually fall, and when too many of them accumulate in your yard, those untidy piles can smother the lawn, impede the growth of cool-season grasses, and attract pests. To stave off these problems, homeowners with many trees on their property may wind up spending hours raking and bagging fallen leaves. But it doesn't have to be this way! While you can't completely escape this seasonal chore, we’ve got some tips that will make it faster and more efficient, giving you a chance to enjoy the brisk, clear fall days.

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  1. Wait for Leaves to Finish Falling

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    You can’t rush Mother Nature! It's pointless to start raking when the trees are still full of leaves. Save yourself valuable time by waiting until the trees are practically bare before tackling the job.


    Related: The Best Things You Can Do for Your Yard This Fall

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  2. Consider Your Comfort

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    Raking is dusty business, so homeowners should don a hat, long-sleeved shirt, and long pants before beginning. It’s also smart to wear heavy-duty gloves to prevent blisters from forming on your hands. Remember to stand up straight as you rake and switch your leading hand on the rake frequently to prevent arm and shoulder fatigue.


    Related: 9 Tricks for Fast and Easy Fall Yard Cleanup

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  3. Use the Right Rake

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    Rakes with narrow spreads gather fewer leaves and add unnecessary time to the chore, so homeowners should choose varieties with a wider tine spread—aim for about 30 inches. Also, look for rakes labeled “no-clog.” These have angled tines that won’t pierce the leaves and create blockages.


    Related: Don't Make These 7 Mistakes Prepping Your Home for Winter

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  4. Rake with the Wind

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    Take advantage of breezy autumn weather by raking in the same direction that the wind is blowing. The gusts will help move the dry leaves along. If you make the mistake of raking against the wind, every stroke of the rake will lift some leaves, which will then be blown backward.


    Related: 13 Easy DIYs for Instant Autumn Curb Appeal

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  5. Rake in Rows

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    If you rake all the leaves into the center of your lawn, you’ll be constantly running back and forth, wasting a lot of time and energy. Instead, separate your lawn into quadrants, then rake all the leaves in each quadrant into rows, working from one end to the other. By raking the leaves in a grid pattern, you’ll save time and end up with a cleaner lawn.


    Related: 11 Ways You're Accidentally Ruining Your Lawn

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  6. Save Time and Trouble with Tarps

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    Bagging large piles of leaves is a time-consuming task. Reduce your workload by raking the leaves onto a large tarp. You can then tie the ends of the tarp together and transport the whole "bag” to your community collection center. Alternatively, roll the tarp into a cylinder and use it as a funnel to fill individual lawn bags. A high-quality, lightweight tarp can be reused many times and will last for years.


    Related: The Invincible Yard: 17 Ideas for Lazy Landscaping

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  7. Bag Smaller Piles

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    Unless you plan to rake the leaves into a large pile for the kids, it’s a good idea to bag them straight away. Otherwise, the brisk autumn breeze may undo your hard work and make you rake them up all over again.


    Related: 21 Ways to Color Your Yard This Fall

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  8. Invest in a Yard Vacuum

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    To streamline the leaf removal process, consider investing in a yard vacuum with a built-in shredder. The vacuum sucks up the leaves, and the shredder minces them into small bits, so you can collect more leaves in fewer bags. Yard vacuums also make it easier to pick up leaves under shrubs, between bushes, on top of stone mulch, and in other places where raking can be tricky.


    Related: The 12 Fall Home Maintenance Tasks You Can't Ignore

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  9. Mow and Mulch at the Same Time

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    Do you have only a few fallen leaves on your property? You can get rid of them while simultaneously adding organic mulch to your lawn. Simply mow over them with a lawn mower, ideally one with a mulching setting. The blades will chop the dry leaves into small flakes, which will decompose quickly and add nutrients to your lawn.


    Related: 15 Easy Ways to Terrify Trick-or-Treaters This Year

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  10. Use a Leaf Blower

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    Leaf blowers can greatly reduce cleanup time after raking, but only if they’re used correctly. Start by sectioning out the yard and establishing a grid pattern, then work the leaf blower back and forth in rows. Remember that practice makes perfect with leaf blowers. At first, many people have a tendency to stand too close to the leaves, which can blow them wildly in all directions.


    Related: 10 Fall Door DIYs for the Best House on the Block

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  11. Rake Before Rain

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    After a rainstorm, fallen leaves become soggy and dense, clumping together and clogging rakes, vacuums, and leaf blowers. If raking is on your to-do list, get moving on cleaning up the lawn ASAP if the forecast predicts wet weather. 


    Related: 8 Budget Buys for Your Best-Ever Fall Porch

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  12. Share the Knowledge

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    Now that you know some of the best tricks for raking leaves faster and more efficiently, share the good news with your neighbors. It may be said that no one loves a know-it-all, but everyone loves timely—and friendly—advice from a helpful acquaintance.

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