Fall leaf cleanup: Getting started cleaning your yard

Greenworks 24v leaf blower

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If you only have a minute to read, allow us to say that our favorite method for clearing leaves from the yard is to run the mower over them. Our mower has a bag that catches the debris, so we know that the grass is ready for the cold months, and the leaves are cleared in one pass.

Editor’s note: This post was partially written by AI. We will always edit for accuracy, and we personally choose the products that you see recommended. We’re simply testing to see if AI can put together some reliable pros and cons for the products that we choose.

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The beauty of fall foliage is a sight to behold. However, once those vibrant leaves start carpeting your yard, the joy can quickly turn into a daunting cleanup task. Thankfully, there are several methods to tackle this seasonal chore. Let’s explore using a rake to clean manually, use a lawn mower, a leaf blower, or hiring a landscaping company.

Raking

The tried and true old fashioned way to clear your yard of unwanted fall leaves is to get out there with rake. You’ll likely want multiple rakes. A wide-spread rake for collecting leaves, a stiff metal rake for digging into dirt or managing branches, and maybe a narrow rake to get into hard-to-reach places.

Pros:

  • Low cost: Rakes are inexpensive and require no additional fuel or maintenance.
  • Good exercise: Raking can be a great workout and a way to enjoy the fresh fall air.
  • No noise pollution: Raking is a quiet method, making it neighbor-friendly.

Cons:

  • Labor-intensive: Raking leaves can be physically demanding and time-consuming, especially in larger yards.
  • Leaves may not be finely mulched: You’ll need to bag or compost the collected leaves separately.

Approximate cost: The cost of a rake is minimal, typically under $20, but it’s important to factor in your time and effort.

Lawn Mower

If you are only clearing leaves and other soft matter, running a lawn mower over them is one of the quickest ways to mulch them down. If your mower has a collection bag, this is by far the fastest and easiest way to collect leaves. However, without a collection bag, the shredded leaves will become very hard to clear out of the grass once mulched.

The added benefit to running the lawn mower over your leaves is that you are also cutting the grass.

Pros:

  • Efficiency: A lawn mower can quickly mulch and collect leaves, saving time and effort.
  • Finely mulched leaves: Mowing shreds leaves into smaller pieces, which can be beneficial for composting or mulching your garden.
  • Versatility: You can use your existing lawn mower for this task.

Cons:

  • Noise and emissions: Gas-powered mowers can be noisy and contribute to air pollution.
  • Potential for damage: If leaves are wet or too thick, a mower may struggle, and you risk damaging your lawn or mower.

Approximate cost: If you already own a lawn mower, the cost is essentially zero. However, if you need to buy one, prices range from $100 for basic models to over $1,000 for high-end options.

See: Lawn mowers on Amazon

Leaf Blower

We love our leaf blower, we use it at least once per week to clear leaves and debris from our patio, roof, and driveway. However, we find it inefficient for removing leaves from the grass. It handles large, dry piles of leaves with ease, but struggles to handle the smaller leaves that get tucked into the grass.

A leaf blower, like a mower, is not ideal if there are sticks in your yard. While sticks tend to cause damage to a mower, a leaf blower simply fails to move most sticks. We do not recommend a leaf blower for removing leaves from your grass, but we know of no better tool to remove leaves from sidewalks, driveways, and other hard surfaces.

Pros:

  • Speed: Leaf blowers can quickly move leaves into piles for easy collection.
  • Minimal physical effort: Requires less physical exertion than raking.
  • Versatility: Some leaf blowers come with vacuum and mulching functions.

Cons:

  • Noise and emissions: Like lawn mowers, gas-powered leaf blowers can be noisy and environmentally unfriendly.
  • Power management: Electric leaf blowers are still noisy, and require you to manage batteries if your yard exceeds the run time of a single charge.
  • Learning curve: Properly using a leaf blower takes some practice.

Approximate cost: Leaf blowers range in price from $50 for electric models to $300 or more for gas-powered, high-capacity models.

Hiring a Landscaping Company

We believe that the best thing for a home owner to do is to invest in the tools to maintain and repair their home and yard for themselves, however, there are advantages to leaving it to the pros. A landscaping company can make short work of your cleaning requirements.

A good company will offer tips and tricks, or at least help set you up for success and easy cleaning moving forward. Consider a contract with them for ongoing yard care. If they spend an hour per week tidying your yard, that can be far better than them having to spend a difficult multi-hour day struggling with the mess at the end of the season.

Pros:

  • Convenience: Professionals can efficiently handle the cleanup, saving you time and effort.
  • Quality results: Experienced landscapers ensure a thorough and tidy job.
  • Equipment provided: You won’t need to invest in tools or equipment.

Cons:

  • Cost: Hiring a landscaping company can be the most expensive option, with costs varying depending on yard size and services.

Approximate cost: Prices can range from $100 to $500 or more, depending on the size of your yard and the extent of the cleanup required.

As it turns out, the best method for keeping your yard clean of fall leaves depends on your budget, physical capabilities, and environmental concerns. Raking and using a lawn mower are cost-effective options but may require more effort. Leaf blowers provide convenience but often must be combined with a rake or mower to finish the job. Hiring a landscaping company offers a hassle-free solution but at a higher cost.

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