October 26, 2010

Leaf gathering is nearly over for us in the Northland. Recognizing the value of leaf mulch, we stockpile ours for late-fall shredding. When the leaves aren’t heavy enough to rake, my wife (and official lawn mower for the household—she likes it, what can I say?) will bag the grass and leaves. They go directly into the compost bins.

Heavier leaf falls get the royal treatment with rakes, scoops and tarp. There’s no end of options for rakes, leaf scoops that fit over hands and leaf hauling gear. Scoops of any design are great for picking up piles of leaves behind plants and in tight places. Don’t overuse them, however, or you could damage your wrist to elbow tendons like I did a year ago.

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The tarp is my favorite leaf tool. We used to use carts to haul away leaves. Now, we simply rake them on a 10- by 12-foot (lightweight) tarp, grab the four corners and carry a large pile at a time to the holding area. It’s quick and easy. Here again, there are fancy alternatives with spring-loaded sides and hefty handholds, but for me, a simple plastic tarp works fine.

Of course, there are also plenty of tools for use on riding lawn mowers to shred and haul leaves, as well as hand-held vacs and blowers. A new twist on an old farm tool is the yard-sized rotary leaf rake from Graetz Manufacturing. The Graetz Yard and Trail Rake sweeps leaves into a windrow for handling.

Now, if only we had a leaf baler, we’d be all set.

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