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As we enter the autumn months, one of the essential tasks for proper yard maintenance is gathering up and disposing of leaves. But what are the best techniques for cleaning leaves from your yard?
We consulted with a seasoned (no pun intended) landscaper and groundskeeping professional who explained to us the various techniques they witnessed homeowners use when it comes to cleaning leaves from their yards.
Maintaining a pristine yard, she emphasized, not only enhances the curb appeal of your home but also ensures a healthy environment for your plants and lawn.
In this article, we’ll show you the dos and don’ts we’ve learned of cleaning leaves from your yard, using effective and efficient methods to keep your outdoor space looking its best.
Best techniques for cleaning leaves from your yard
1. Invest in the right tools
Achieving successful leaf cleaning begins with arming yourself with the right tools. No matter which method you choose, prioritize investing in high-quality equipment such as a leaf rake, leaf blower, and leaf bags.
Purpose-built tools are best because they’re specifically designed to streamline the task, making it easier and more efficient to accomplish.
2. Regular maintenance
To avoid leaf accumulation, set up a schedule of regular yard maintenance throughout the fall season.
A weekly cleanup is a good rule. If you have numerous trees on your property, consider more frequent maintenance. Consistency is of high importance for preserving the pristine condition of your yard.
3. Mulching leaves
Mulching fallen leaves on lawns is advocated by many over blowing or raking them off.
Not only does it reduce noise and greenhouse gas emissions by minimizing the use of leaf blowers, but it also enriches your yard’s health by creating valuable compost that enhances the topsoil.
The benefits of leaf mulching include:
- Quieter and cleaner: Mulching is a more peaceful and environmentally friendly alternative.
- Improved soil structure: Mulching reduces the need for fertilizers and prevents water pollution by minimizing phosphorus and fertilizer leaching.
- Safety and cost-effectiveness: Mulching avoids the safety hazards of piled-up or bagged leaves on roadsides, saving taxpayer money on municipal leaf collection.
- Weed suppression and soil enhancement: Spreading mulch on garden beds inhibits weed growth and improves soil quality. As the mulch decomposes, it also helps prevent diseases.
- Water retention and percolation: The addition of organic matter through leaf mulching improves water retention and percolation, aiding in better rainwater management.
- Stronger grass health: The loosening effect of organic matter allows grass roots to penetrate deeper, thus improving overall grass health.
- Providing essential winter habitat: Not all leaves need to be mulched. Instead, you can rake them around the base of trees and shrubs or into perennial beds. This protects the roots of the plants and serves as a crucial winter habitat for butterflies and important insects.
4. Safety first
Each new fall season, the hardware stores roll out a bevy of fancy tools and hardware to enable yard work to be efficient and even fun. But when operating a leaf blower or any powered equipment, safety should be your top priority.
Make sure to wear protective gear such as hearing and eye protection, as well as appropriate clothing to guard against debris. Additionally, ensure the equipment is in good working order and always follow the guidelines provided by the manufacturer.
Composting is nature’s remarkable way of recycling, serving as one of the most impactful actions we can take to minimize waste, combat climate change, and cultivate thriving soil which could lead to a beautiful backyard garden.
The EPA promotes home composting as a great way to transform yard waste and food scraps into a reusable resource that not only saves valuable landfill space and reduces incinerator use but also mitigates the release of potent greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere.
6. Proper disposal
If composting is not feasible for your home or area, then make sure to responsibly dispose of any of your gathered leaves.
Numerous municipalities provide leaf pickup services in the autumn season. As an alternative, you can collect leaves in bags and deliver them to a designated disposal site.
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The “don’ts” of cleaning leaves from your yard
Like any home maintenance task, there’s the right way to do it, and there’s the way that makes your neighbors scratch their heads at you while you swear at your leaf pile.
Here are six things to avoid when cleaning leaves from a yard.
- Don’t leave leaves too long: Leaving a buildup of fallen leaves for a prolonged period can suffocate your lawn, increasing the chances of mold and fungal problems. Keep up with this task to ensure the health of your yard.
- Avoid using leaf blowers on windy days: Using a leaf blower on a windy day can be aggravating and counterproductive. Wait for a calm day, as this will help make your job easier and much more efficient.
- Don’t rake wet leaves: Raking wet leaves is more labor-intensive and can damage your lawn. Wait until the leaves have dried out, ideally on a sunny day, before starting the cleanup.
- Don’t overload leaf bags: Overfilling your leaf bags can make them heavy and difficult to handle. Fill them only to a manageable weight to prevent strain and potential injuries.
- Avoid burning leaves: Burning leaves may be prohibited in your area due to air quality regulations. Additionally, burning leaves can release harmful chemicals into the air. Always check local regulations and opt for more eco-friendly disposal methods.
- Don’t neglect your gutters: Leaves can accumulate in your gutters, causing blockages and potential water damage to your home. Regular gutter cleaning during the fall season prevents these issues.
Maintaining a beautiful and healthy outdoor space is a highlight of homeownership. Landscaping maintenance often means the regular task of cleaning leaves from your yard.
If you employ some of the techniques we’ve provided here and avoid the common pitfalls of many homeowners, you stand a much better chance of making leaf cleanup more manageable and efficient.
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Photo by Tim Samuel