Learn the best ways to rake leaves

As fall approaches, many of us will witness that spectacular display of colorful leaves floating down from the trees. While it’s an annual ritual that creates some memorable moments, it’s not always pleasant to clean up the mess it leaves behind on our yards, driveways and walkways.

While it’s OK to allow leaves to remain under shrubs and trees to compost, leaves should be removed from the lawn to ensure grass growth and health in the spring. Leaves also should be removed from walkways and driveways to prevent you, your family and visitors from the risk of injury due to slipping.

Here are a few tips on tackling leaves this fall, from equipment to healthy practices.

Equipment

  • Lawnmower: One strategy for tackling the leaves is to let the lawnmower do it for you. However, for the health of your lawn, don’t continue to mow just to gather up the leaves.
  • Leaf blowers: Some property owners like to use leaf blowers, but they are not considered very practical when leaves are wet or in cramped corners. They are recommended for gravel and rock driveways because they move the leaves but not the rocks. They can be useful to get leaves off the roof and to move them from the driveway and walkways onto the lawn for gathering and disposal.
  • Leaf raking: Old-fashioned leaf raking can be the best option for clearing away the leaves, but it also potentially can cause strain on the person doing the raking. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that thousands of people are annually treated for injuries related to non-powered garden tools, such as rakes. Raking requires a variety of movement, including twisting, bending, lifting and reaching, each of which may rely on different muscle groups. Improper use of lawn tools compounds the risk of injury.

 

Raking the healthy way

  • Warm things up: According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, you should engage in warm-up exercises for 10 minutes before raking leaves just as you would with any other physical.
  • Be well-equipped: Use a rake that is properly sized for the height and strength of the raker. Wear gloves to protect your hands from blisters; and wear skid-resistant shoes to prevent falls.
  • Make sure you’re able to see clearly: Don’t bundle up with scarves or hats to the point where you’re not aware of large rocks, uneven surfaces or low branches, the AAOS warns.
  • Don’t overpack the trash bags with leaves: Prevent injuries to your back by making sure they’re manageable to carry.
  • Drink plenty of water and take regular breaks: Make sure you pace yourself to avoid exerting yourself.
  • Hire a service: Hiring a lawn professional also is an option. Many services will blow leaves from gutters, walkways and hard to reach areas, gather the leaves and mow the yard, among other things.


When disposing of leaves, property owners have the option of composting into mulch and fertilizer for the spring or gathering them into leaf bags for disposal by your city or trash pickup service.


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