Cleaning up Autumn leaves isn’t a job that gets many of us excited, but if you wait until you can no longer clearly see your lawn, then cleaning up and raking leaves becomes a major job, and you might end up killing your lawn by leaving it too long.
In fact, there are many reasons you should rake leaves (including some you probably don’t know about!).
Of course, the best way to clean up leaves in a garden is always to find the most comfortable and efficient way. So here I cover making a quick plan, wearing the right clothes, and choosing the best leaf removal equipment for your needs depending on your type of garden.
Below I’ll give you some of my absolute favourite tips for ways to clean up leaves in small, medium, and large back gardens.
Contents (Jump to Topic)
Best Way To Clean Up Leaves Like A Pro
Although Autumn leaves may look beautiful, they can clog gutters, block drains, and damage your lawn. If you live in an area where there are lots of trees, you might find yourself spending hours each week cleaning up.
Regardless of the size of your garden, easy cleanup of fallen leaves IS possible. Just follow these tips on how to clean up your garden and you’ll be finished in less time, with less work.
1. Wearing The Correctly Clothing – Yes, Really!
Although clothing may not be the first thing on your mind, it is the first thing I ask people think about.
You’ll be surprised how much faster and easier a task becomes when suitable clothing is worn. Ok, I hear you all saying ‘but I am only going to rake leaves’, please trust me on this one.
By wearing long well-fitting pants and closed shoes you avoid the problem of twigs and other debris becoming annoying, or even causing injuries to your feet and legs.
And, it goes without saying, you should always wear protective gloves. When your hands are protected you naturally work much faster than without.
2. Make A Plan Of Action
Starting with a plan of action is always best for most garden tasks, but especially when trying to rake up leaves fast and efficiently. Don’t panic, nothing elaborate is required, but here I’ve listed a few things I always ask myself before tackling a large garden, hopefully, it’ll give you a few things to think about before you start.
- What tools are you planning to use? Have them close by and ready to use
- Check the weather forecast, raking wet leaves can be hard work and impossible on a windy day
- Work out where the best place to start and finish is
- If you have regular winds, make a note of which way the prevailing wind blows and rake in that direction (if the wind suddenly blows it will help not hinder)
- Whether raking leaves or using a leaf blower is it easier to make leaf piles or use a plastic tarp that you can carry or drag to the compost pile
- Don’t forget to have bags at the ready (if you plan on bagging of course)
These are all little things that can make quick work of leaf cleanup.
3. Using The Right Tools For The Job
By having the right leaf removal equipment you can cut down your work time quite considerably. Remember, the most suitable rake or leaf blower for one person isn’t always going to be the right one for you, so it’s worth spending 5 minutes thinking about it logically.
Here are some of the most popular tools that are available for clearing your garden and lawn of leaves.
A good leaf rake designed specifically to remove leaves will be lightweight and have an ergonomic handle and wide fan shape. Even if you prefer to use a leaf vacuum or blower, you may still need a leaf rake as it is the perfect tool for gathering stray leaves.
Although similar to the leaf rakes, a shrub rake has a narrower head and shorter claws. These rakes are specifically designed to get into areas underneath shrubbery and between flower beds without damaging plants or the grass.
As the name suggests, this rake is the smallest of all garden rakes. It is held in one hand and is perfect for gardening. Using it, you can get in between plants in beds or under shrubs.
Mulching leaves is great for your lawn. Leaves can be mulched by hand, but this is slow and tedious. A leaf vacuum does the job quickly and efficiently, mulching the leaves as they pass into the collection bag. Once mulched the leaves take up far less room when bagging, will compost faster, and make great leaf mold.
A leaf vacuum is especially good when you have lots of hard-to-reach spaces under trees and bushes. These are also available as a walk-behind power vacuum which is even more efficient in really big areas.
A mulching mower works just like a lawnmower (more info here if you’d like to see the differences) except it mulches the leaves as you mow. For those of you with large lawns, this has to be the easiest way to deal with all those Autumn leaves.
You can use a standard lawnmower, but you will need to pass over the leaves a couple of times to achieve anywhere near the same results. If the grass does not require cutting, then raise the height of the rotating blade.
As the name suggests leaf blowers enable you to blow leaves and debris into piles or onto a tarp. For smaller gardens, a cordless leaf blower gives you massive freedom of movement and allows you to get into those nooks and crannies.
Just remember if buying a new one, choose a model that is comfortable for your build and strength as there are quite a lot of different types out there.
If you’re not sure if it’s worth you owning one, I’ve compared the pros and cons of leaf blowers vs rakes here.
4. Know When It Is Best To Simply Leave Leaves
Is there really a time when leaving the leaves where they fall is the best option? It turns out yes! Leaving Autumn leaves on flower beds to compost will act as a natural fertilizer and protect plants’ roots from ground frost in the colder months. Just don’t leave them in huge numbers so that they completely cover any plants.
On the other hand, though, removing any remaining leaves from flower beds can normally be done before the Spring. This will allow the spring sunshine to warm the soil and let the plants know it will soon be time to burst into flower once again.
In summary, don’t leave them to build up to silly levels and if you’re going to clear them, try to clear them before heavy rain, dry leaves are much easier to clear.
So To Sum It All Up
Just remember, raking leaves and using leaf blowers is an essential task that needs to be done if you want to properly care for your garden and lawn all year round.
Ignoring the issue can kill plants, suffocate soil and leave yellow/brown patches on your lawn. Mulching and composting the leaves is always the ideal solution, it clears your garden and provides perfect natural nutrients for all the plants, grass and wild critter – also protecting them from harsh British frosts.
Prepare yourself with a plan, and the best tools, then approach it in such a way that makes sense.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
To finish off, here are a few commonly asked questions I’ve come across over my years as a professional landscaper.
What is the fastest way to clean up your garden?
Using a leaf blower is probably the most efficient and fastest way to clear leaves. A good leaf blower allows you to gather leaves onto a large tarp or into piles with the least effort and the quickest result.
What happens if you don’t clean up leaves?
If you don’t clean up leaves, and you have a lot, you are at risk of attracting pests and having mold or fungi grow. Because of lack of air and sunlight, you may also find you have brown patches develop on your lawn.
Do dead leaves help plants grow?
Leaving dead leaves (especially when mulched) can help your plants grow by supplying them with nutrients as they compost. They also act as a natural mulch that helps keep weeds at bay, prevent soil erosion. Mulch also helps retain moisture, which means your plants will stay healthier and happier.