The Best Leaf-Raking Strategy

Discover the best way to gather and dispose of fallen leaves.

The simplest method of leaf removal involves raking the leaves into piles and then onto tarps or into bags. The goal is to move the leaves as little as possible. Rather than raking or blowing leaves into long, linear runs, create stacks that are central to the leaves being collected. Each pile should contain no more leaves than can be mounded onto a tarp. Huge piles may be fun to dive into, but bundling them ultimately involves more work.

Gather leaves into piles no larger than the tarp will hold. Creating many small piles is more efficient than gathering far-flung leaves into a few huge piles.

To gather up the leaves for transport, lay a woven poly tarp beside the pile and then rake and kick the leaves onto it. Tie together the front and then the back corners, or attach the grommets at the corners with clip rings. Now you can easily drag the bundle.

Kick and rake leaves onto the tarp. Woven poly tarps that are 6 x 10 ft. work well.

Getting rid of leaves isn’t as easy as it used to be. Burning is restricted, landfills and dumps are placing limits on (or even refusing) yard waste, and municipalities are making new rules about which kinds of leaf bags you may use. Although the intentions may be admirable, the restrictions can be frustrating.

Dump the leaves into a leaf corral. This one is made of a 19-ft. section of 36-in. wire fencing with 2 x 4-in. holes. It will hold about 3 cu. yd. of material. The fencing is wired together end-to-end and staked to the ground.

The most environmentally friendly solution is to compost the leaves. But if you don’t have the space or the patience for this method, you’ll have to make other arrangements.

Add about a quart of 10-10-10 fertilizer for every cubic yard (27 cu. ft.) of leaves. Some gardeners add a little soil, though there is no proof that the practice hastens the decay of leaves. Form the top of the pile into a dish shape so it will catch water.

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