How to Deal With Autumn Leaves

All garden owners share the same frustration when autumn comes – dealing with fallen leaves. You need to control the clutter that’s covering your ground, preferably before those leaves pile up and become impossible to clean.

If you don't deal with the autumn leaves lying on the grass, they can cause problems. They become a hazard when wet or frozen, they can contribute to snow mould, and they can make your garden untidy. As soon as leaves start falling, it's best to deal with them immediately.

It's a job that many of us don't enjoy, but it is an inevitable task that comes with autumn. Also, it is a great chance to harvest some soil and mulch for the garden. With that in mind, below are some great tips for dealing with autumn leaves.

Select the Right Tools

The most important thing to consider when trying to remove those autumn leaves is the tool you use to do it. Leaf rakes come in varied sizes and shapes. Those made of heavy steel are too heavy if you’re trying to deal with leaves that are dry and light. For dry leaves, you also need to pay attention to the handle length since you’ll have to bend and stoop over for a while.

In addition to a leaf rake, you might want to get a leaf blower to cut down the task in half. There are eco-friendly options that run on fuel instead of electric.  A leaf blower will blow your leaves into piles, ready to be removed.

A garden vacuum is another option and works the same as a leaf blower, except it sucks the leaves up rather than blowing them about. Garden vacs take care of leaves faster than other methods as the leaves get sucked into the vacuum bag.

Finally, there’s the lawn mower option. This one is a high-tech option, making it much more costly. One advantage of this method is it can turn the leaves into mulch and let them absorb back into your soil.

Be careful of too many decomposing leaves throwing off your soil chemistry. You want a nice thin layer of mulch, otherwise, it can ruin your grass.

Rake Them Wet

Yes, when leaves are wet, they are heavier – but they are also much easier to rake. If you decide to rake the leaves, try to do so when they are wet. Otherwise, if the day is windy, you’ll end up chasing those leaves around and having to do the job all over again.

In the case that you have allergies, you might want to wait until the leaves are dry. Piles of damp leaves are breeding grounds for mould.

Deal with the Pines First

When you attempt to rake up the leaves that are mixed with pine needles, you’ll end up getting the large leaves only. Those pine needles often slip between the tines of the rake.

Your best option is to rake those pine needles as soon as you notice them falling. Don’t let them get mixed with the leaves that fall down later.

Bundle Them Up

When you have raked all the leaves into piles, what do you do with them? Have you been putting all those leaves into small bags?

There is a solution to this time-consuming activity. Put the leaves into a wheelbarrow and take them to the corner of your garden. Lay an old sheet on the ground, and dump them there in a pile. Once you finish, gather up the corners of the sheet – and you’re done.

As I mentioned above, a good garden vacuum will also collect the leaves for you, which will save a lot of time.

Keep Those Leaves

Don’t throw away all the leaves you rake! You can turn these into mulch that is nutrient-rich and great for your soil. Do this by running leaves over with the mower and spreading the mulch over your soil. As they decompose, they’ll provide the plants with plenty of soil nutrients.

Or, wait for it. Leaves don’t break down fast, but if you have the patience and the room, you can turn them into the compost for next year. Allow the pile to weather until spring comes, make sure it isn’t wet, and use it for the garden soil next year.

Dogwood and maple leaves turn to mulch in months, but those thick oak leaves take up to three years to decompose. Take this into consideration if you opt for this choice.

Keep Those Sticks

Do you have some trees in your yard? If you do, there will probably be some sticks in between those leaves. Don’t throw these away. They are perfect for fireplace kindling. And if you keep them in a pile, it might be a welcoming spot for birds and other wildlife.

Make a Strategy

Before you start raking, think of the best strategy to do so. This should help you avoid having to rake again, and help you organize.

The first thing to think about is the destination of your leaves. Have you decided where to rake toward? If the answer is yes, start at the point that is furthest from the final spot and start raking. However, on a windy day, always rake downwind.

Try to separate your tasks if you have too many leaves to blow. If you just keep piling them up, it will become very hard to move them once you are done.

Speaking of the remains, you need to know what will happen once you collect all those leaves in one spot. Will you compost them, turn them into mulch, put them in bags, or get a company to come and pick them up? Whichever it is, plan it ahead of time.

Otherwise, the weather conditions can change while you’re searching for the final destination of the remains, and you might end up having to do everything again. Finally, think of your posture. Find the right rake or blower that won’t make the process hard on your body.

Maintaining a good, healthy lawn is hard work when you have a lot on your plate, but it is good for the lawn and good for your body. You can actually get a lot of exercise when autumn comes thanks to those leaves.