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Leaf Removal Made Easy

By on November 13, 2009

Autumn is certainly a beautiful time of year.  Watching the leaves turn all those magnificent colors.  Really is something to appreciate…until all that dead foliage is strewn about your yard, that is.

So, what’s the best way to rid your lawn of that huge mess?  Well, my favorite tool is a 16-year-old son, but if you don’t have one of those there are other options.

The Basics

The objective here is to complete this nasty job with as few blisters as possible.  That being said, no matter how big your yard is, the first items you’ll need are a good rake and a pair of leather palm gloves to protect your hands.  Preferably, your rake is lightweight and covers a large area of ground.  I would recommend plastic over bamboo.  You’ll probably get a couple extra years out of it.  If you’re working on anything under one eighth of an acre these may be all the tools you’ll need.

A Step Up

Electric Hand-held Blower

Electric Hand-held Blower

If your yard is a little larger, say around a quarter of an acre, you may want to consider a little more power. A hand-held electric blower will certainly simplify the job.  All leaf blowers are rated by CFMs (cubic feet per minute), which is a measurement of how much air they blow each minute.  Some of the better electric handhelds actually have higher CFMs than their counter part gas powered models.  They are relatively light, easy to hold, and rather inexpensive (forty to eighty dollars.)  The only drawback is the electrical cord.  It has the tendency to interrupt your work because it’s snagged on some object.  Additionally, you are limited to a length of 150 feet.  I’ve read many reviews, and it seems the winner in this category is the Toro Ultra Blower Vac 51599.

Go For the Gusto

Living on a half-acre or more?  It’s time to bring in the big guns.  Gas powered backpack blowers are worn on your back with a harness that goes over your shoulders just like a backpack.  The blower tube bends around to the front of your body and is typically where you’ll find the throttle control mounted.  You’ll find these blowers available in the two to three hundred dollar ranges.  One would deduce how popular they’ve become just from huge inventories being stocked at large home centers.  Personally, I have always been apprehensive of having a gas-powered engine mounted to my back.

Walk Behind Leaf Blower

Walk Behind Leaf Blower

My preference here is the walk-behind leaf blower.  They’re the Big Daddy of the group and will shorten your time clearing the yard considerably.  Usually the choice of commercial users, they are mounted on wheels and are usually found with a side blower that has a diverter which can re-direct the air to the front (ahead of your direction.)  These animals are fairly expensive and are usually sold for close to and upwards of four figures. Besides the price, the one downer about these machines is their weight.  If you’re dealing with some steep inclines then perhaps a backpack style is your better solution.

Now for good reason you may ask, “Why spend all that money on something I’ll use once a year?”  Very valid question so, I suggest you check with your local rental center and grab one for fifty dollars a day or so.


Remove Leaves with a Tarp

Remove Leaves with a Tarp

My best trick is to buy a 12’ x 16’ tarp.  Then, when the leaf piles become so big that your blower doesn’t move them anymore, you rake them onto the tarp and drag the leaves into the woods where they become earth again.

“But, I don’t have a wooded area on my property to rake or blow my leaves into. So, what should I do?” Until recently, and in a lot of places, you could simply rake the leaves out to the street where a city truck with a big vacuum would come suck them away.  Today we’re not so lucky.  What this means is you’ll have to bag your leaves for removal.

So, what are your leaf bag options?  For years you could simply use large plastic garbage bags, but more and more municipalities are banning their use because they do not decompose along with the leaves.  Generally the alternative is paper leaf bags.  Paper bags solve the decomposition issue but they have their downside too.  First, a lot of trees are sacrificed to produce them.  Second, they typically have a smaller capacity than plastic bags which means packing a lot more bags.  And finally, wet weather can be troublesome to paper’s durability.  So, in my opinion, your best option is biodegradable cornstarch based bags such as BioBag Lawn & Leaf.  You will still have an issue with keeping the bags dry but you’ll be saving a few trees and these bags come in 33-gallon sizes.

One Last Thought

If you like to garden, leaves are nutrient-rich and are great for composting.  For this you’ll want to get a leaf shredder, a.k.a., leaf mulcher.  And as a side benefit for those who have to bag their leaves, leaf shredders can turn ten bags of leaves into one!

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