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Rake Your Day: Leaf Control Made Easy (and Fun)

Consider this your sweet "releaf" from the dreaded autumn grind. Our three-point plan will prep you and your yard for the easiest domination yet.

Contributing Garden Editor

Make a plan of attack. When it comes to your approach, you have two choices: You can rake on a rolling basis, or do one big cleanup at the end of the season. Option two sounds tempting, but will likely require a daylong grunt -- and if you wait too long, you’ll push up against the first snowfall, at which point it will be too late. If you choose to devote Saturdays to weekly maintenance, however, each session may take only an hour or so.

Take an all-star approach. When raking large areas, be strategic -- tackle about 100 square feet at a time, and make many smaller piles. You can streamline the post-rake routine by using a tarp: Pile the leaves onto it until it’s full, and then drag the tarp to a composting area or stuff the leaves into bags.


If you’re a composter (and you should be), save the bags for next year, when you’ll need more browns to round out your compost pile. You can also use fall leaves to lay out new garden beds. Simply pile them where you intend to plant, and let them decompose on the spot. (If I have plans for a big bed, I’ve even been known to swipe bags of leaves from the curb!)

Keep a sunny outlook (and forecast). Dry fall days with minimal winds were made for leaf-raking sprees. That said, your attitude will take you further than the weather. Enlist family and friends, play music, and don't forget to take a break now and then -- jump in the piles and get leaves stuck in your hair before you haul them all away! I also love to play "catch the leaf" with whatever’s lingering on the trees: Wait for a leaf to flutter down from a high branch, and try to chase it down. It's harder than it sounds, but it's super-fun and satisfying.


How do you make fall yard work more appealing?