7 Tools To Make Leaf Cleanup Easier

Whether it's spring or fall, cleaning up fallen leaves can be time-consuming and strenuous; consider these tools to save time and energy.

by J. Keeler Johnson
PHOTO: Daniel Johnson

Whether the season is spring or fall, cleaning up fallen leaves is a task that requires a lot of time, a lot of effort—and a lot of tools. A mature hardwood tree, such as an oak or a sugar maple, can easily drop thousands (even hundreds of thousands) of leaves at the end of every summer, and whether you’re cleaning them up in the fall or waiting until the following spring, that’s a lot of fallen leaves to deal with.

Still, the task is worthwhile when you consider that leaves can be used as mulch or added to your compost bin, turning them into useful products for your farm. Having the right tools on hand can help simplify any leaf-clearing project and reduce the amount of time it takes to complete. Here are some of the tools to consider.

1. Rakes

Few tools—if any—are as ideal as rakes when it comes to dealing with fallen leaves. Rakes can be used to gather the leaves into piles for easy disposal. I find it useful to have several rakes on hand, including a couple of slightly different types. For example, I use a large plastic leaf rake for gathering loose, dry leaves, but will switch to a smaller metal leaf rake for gathering leaves that are wet or stuck in the grass and reluctant to move.

2. Leaf Blower

leaf blower fallen leaves
J. Keeler Johnson

These electric or gasoline-powered blowers come in a variety of sizes and are a very popular yard tool. Some of the most powerful units have wheels and are pushed from behind, taking the weight off your arms and back, while others have vacuum abilities to suck up leaves, mulch them, and deposit them into an attached bag.

3. Wheelbarrow

Once you’ve raked all of your leaves into piles, you’ll need some way to move them to a better location, and a wheelbarrow can be the perfect tool. A wheelbarrow (or similar cart pulled by a lawn mower or tractor) will hold plenty of leaves and is easy to use and dump.

4. Large Shovel

To transfer the leaves to a wheelbarrow, you’ll want a large shovel, such as a snow shovel, or another scooping tool on hand to move the leaves into the wheelbarrow.

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5. Tarp

For large-scale projects involving a lot of leaves, I’ve found that an ordinary tarp can save you a lot of time and effort. By spreading it on the ground, you can rake the leaves onto the tarp, then grab the corners and easily haul the leaves away.

6. Leaf Sweeper

These machines—which can be pushed from behind or towed behind a tractor depending on the model—are designed to automatically scoop leaves into large bags, eliminating the need for raking. However, I’ve found that they work best on loose leaves that haven’t had a chance to work their way into the grass; for a more thorough job on tougher lawns, you might need to use a rake to clean up anything the leaf sweeper misses.

7. Shredder

If you have more leaves than you know what to do with (or don’t currently have a use for), a lead shredder can greatly reduce the size of the leaves and make them easier to dispose of.

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