Summer is coming to a close; you can feel it in the air. It is almost time to begin raking leaves. Even though fall is still a few weeks away officially, the leaves on the trees in our neighborhoods are beginning to show the colors of fall. With this in mind I ran upon a great resource offering 10 Raking Tips. After reviewing these tips you may want to go to our website and at look at ways to assist our leaf collectors in picking up your leaves. www.bristoltn.org/141/Street-Maintenance.
1. Rake with the wind
The wind can work either for you or against you when you’re raking leaves, so why not let Mother Nature pitch in? Find out which way the wind normally blows in your backyard, and start raking your leaves with the wind—even if the spot in the yard is different from where you wanted to rake the leaves. You can always rake them onto a tarp once you get the bulk of them in a pile, then transport the pile to where you need it, such as the compost bin or the curb for municipal cleanup.
2. Don’t rake, mow
Early in the fall when the leaves have not yet blanketed the ground and the grass still needs mowing, you can save yourself time and effort by simply running a mulching lawn mower over the leaves instead of raking first and mowing second. By doing this, you’re cutting down on the work and, more important, the nutrients contained in the leaves will return to the soil, which will benefit the lawn greatly.
3. Use the right rake
Posture is important when raking. When you rake with bad posture, your back is going to hurt afterward. The pain will seriously undercut the amount of time you can spend on the job at a given time, so you’ll find yourself raking more often. You can reduce this risk by choosing the right rake for your body. Before you purchase a rake at a store, make sure it feels comfortable and easy to use.
4. Mulch what you can
Many leaf blowers also feature a vacuum/mulch setting, so if you have an ongoing compost project, mulch as many leaves as you can for your compost. You can also use the chewed-up leaves to make leaf mold, an all-natural, nutrient-rich mulch-type dressing to replace store-bought mulch.
5. Wear gloves
If you’re not used to this type of labor, raking can cause painful blisters on your hands. Always wear gloves, which should fit snugly but not too tight.
6. Wear a dust mask
Fallen leaves are dry and dusty, and they can produce a lot of airborne particles when you mow, mulch or rake them. If you are sensitive to dust or have allergies, wear a dust mask while you work and you will save yourself a lot of sneezing.
7. Use a tarp
Leaves are light, so you can transport quite a bundle of them when you use the right strategy. Rake the leaves onto a tarp, and then pull the tarp to take the leaves where you need them to be. This is a quicker, safer and easier way than constantly bending over to manually pick up piles of leaves to shove into a garbage bag or wheelbarrow.
8. Stomp on the piles
You used to enjoy stomping on leaf piles when you were a kid, but as an adult this activity pays off. If you just raked a pile of leaves and you get called away before you can finish picking them up, stomp on the pile before you go. This will help prevent the wind from blowing (most of) the pile away before you get back to finishing the job.
9. Rake downhill when possible
Leaves might be light, but they do follow gravitational pull. When you’re raking on a slant, rake downhill whenever possible and the job will go much more quickly and easily.
10. Know your limits
Leaf season lasts several weeks, so there’s no rush to finish the job, especially when leaves are still on the trees. Know your limitations and don’t overexert yourself. If you feel yourself wearing down, stop for the day. You have plenty of time to get the job done.
Updated from an earlier version by Dave Donovan