Go Easier on Yourself this Fall
Time and Labor-saving Tips for Autumn Leaves Clean-up
orange, yellow and brown; itís time for autumn leaves to start
falling down. This year, donít dread what the changing leaf colors
signify; learn how to ease the strain and pain of raking -- fallís
most taxing task.
Your first step is to not rake -- yet. As you
continue mowing on into the fall, you can bag many of those leaves,
or mulch them if you have a mulching mower. Once youíve stopped
mowing for the season, however, itís not recommended to mow only to
mulch the leaves. When your grass has stopped growing, thatís the
time to address the leaves.
One tempting option in leaf removal is a leaf
blower. While these gadgets might do the trick on dry leaves, leaves
are often damp and in tighter spaces where the blower is
inefficient. Gasoline-powered leaf blowers are also not
environmentally friendly, and most models are quite noisy, rendering
them not very neighborhood friendly either. Try an electric leaf
blower only for areas that truly require them, such as the roof.
With the high-powered options out, looks like
itís back to good old-fashioned raking. When beginning to rake,
first decide which leaves must go and which leaves can remain.
Leaves can be left under trees and shrubs where they will compost
themselves, so that when spring returns, you will need significantly
less new bark mulch to cover the areas surrounding your trees and
shrubbery. Research has shown that trees fair better when they have
a mulched area surrounding them. The mulch will improve the treeís
health and increase its growth rate.
The leaves covering the majority of your lawn,
however, need to be cleared away if you want decent grass come
spring. You donít need to rake every time the wind blows, but
waiting too long will make for much harder work. Selecting a proper
rake can significantly reduce the amount of time you spend raking.
For instance, the new Clog-Free Rake from Ames True Temper
eliminates the frustration and inconvenience of stuck leaves at the
end of the rake. Whereas traditional rakes leave you perpetually
stopping and bending over to remove clogged leaves from the tines,
the innovative Clog-Free Rake has a wave-shaped tooth design that
keeps those leaves from sticking. It also features a ComfortGrip
handle to reduce hand fatigue and blisters.
When you venture into the yard to rake, remember
to pace yourself and be careful of your back. Raking is a vigorous
activity that leaves many people with sore backs because it requires
the use of muscles you donít typically use. Be sure to avoid back
injury by moving your feet instead of standing in one spot and
constantly bending and straightening. Be sure not to twist the trunk
of your body as you rake. A proper raking procedure is to rake
leaves straight back and move with the rake as you walk backwards.
Take frequent breaks while you work, and give your back a good
stretch by leaning backwards to reduce pain. Also switch hand
positions periodically to reduce the amount of stress on one arm and
side of the body.
If you already have back problems or know that
raking always puts a strain on your back, look into purchasing a
rake that is more ergonomically correct. The Ergo Rake, also from
Ames True Temper, for example, features a unique contoured handle so
itís easy on the back and requires no stooping or twisting. Because
of its unique design, pressure is exerted on the rake, not the neck,
back, or shoulders. It also features a large handle diameter and a
slip-free grip to reduce hand fatigue.
Once youíve gotten all those leaves together,
consider making a compost of them to create mulch and fertilizer for
the spring. Rake them towards the back of your yard or onto a
vegetable bed if you have one, as long as you sprinkle on lime or
ashes. Group them into piles approximately the size of two full
garbage bags. You can also add summer flowers and plants youíve
pulled for the year as well as twigs and grass clippings. Just make
sure to include a layer of dirt between each foot of leaves.
Sprinkle the pile with cottonseed meal and water if itís dry. Make
sure to turn the pile once a month to ensure overall moisture
If you donít have the space to compost and have
to cart the leaves to your front lawn or need to bag them, consider
using a wheelbarrow to do the hauling. For easier pick-up, Ames True
Temperís Rake, Gather & Go has a detachable head that makes
gathering leaves and grass clippings a cinch. When its time to
gather the leaves, simply remove the detachable head and scoop it
together with the rake for quick pickups. The detachable head clips
easily onto the back of the rake for convenient storage.
Remember, while the task may be no day in the
park, there are plenty of ways to make raking less taxing. Spread
your work out and enlist help. Raking leaves with the family can
lead to some wonderful romps in the piles for the kids. Or, enlist
some of the neighborhood teenagers to aid in the chore. Theyíll
enjoy earning some extra cash, and you can earn some extra free
To learn more about the latest innovations in
rakes, as well as ergonomic tips for reducing hand, neck and back
Courtesy of ARA Content