Fall Raking Plan

Every morning as I drink my coffee I assess the amount of fallen leaves in our yard. This year my town will be collecting bagged leaves at the curbside three times in November—compared to last year when everyone had to take their own leaves to the town compost heap. This was exciting news, as we made many, many trips last year in our compact car. (At least it’s a hatch-back.)Our plentitude of leaves is ironic because we have just two trees on our property, both in the front yard. One is a huge old oak and the other, a saucer magnolia. Our back yard is small and treeless, but lots of branches from our neighbors’ trees hang over the fence and bestow us with their leaves in the fall.

So, we’ll very much enjoy the luxury of curbside pickup of our dozens of leaf bags this year. On the other hand, the pressure is on to get everything raked and bagged in time, and the leaves seem to be really clinging to the trees. I’m debating, should I chip away at the leaves as they fall, or wait till they’re mostly all down and do one big cleanup? What’s your strategy?

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9 thoughts on “Fall Raking Plan

  1. Yea, I agree about mowing, course my front yard is 1.3 acres. So there’s no question about it.But also I have noticed mowing lets the ground breath to like dry out better. Stirs up all the stuff like sweeping your floor. Just mt thought. :)

  2. I’m all for conserving my energy for better things than leaf-raking. I rake once,after all the leaves have come down, usually the Sunday before the town’s final pickup date. Like you, I have many more leaves than I can use, so the leaves from the backyard go to compost, the side yard goes into the gardens as mulch and the front yard is raked to the curb for pick up. A couple of hour’s work and it’s done for the year.

  3. Rake early and often. My community does unbagged curb pickup. I was rushing to make the last pickup last December, out raking under my string light at 9pm. They didn’t come the next day as scheduled, and 2 days later…yep, the December blizzard came. Leaves were plowed up onto the sidewalks and left to make a sloppy mess as the snow melted. The only good thing was another blizzard came in January to cover the mess :)

  4. Oh, absolutely, I shred and use some of the leaves as mulch. But it’s a really small yard with a whole lot of overhanging branches, plus leaves that blow in from down the street. I couldn’t use all of them. Plus, I borrow equipment one time to shred what leaves I can use. That’s because I use a push-reel mower on the lawn—it’s great but it doesn’t shred or bag.

    Thanks for the comments & keep ‘em coming!
    —Meghan

    • Don’t rake, mow! Congratulations for using a reel mower, but now’s the time to borrow a power mower from a friendly neighbor. Those leaves are garden gold. Chipped into the lawn they break down over the winter adding a layer of organics full of exactly the nutrients your trees needed to produce them in the first place. I’ve been doing this for 4 years. The first year my husband was convinced I was killing the grass as I mowed in leaves up to 6 inches deep. You could see the chipped leaf pieces until the snow flew, but the January thaw revealed many fewer and by the final thaw in March, the remains were negligible. My lawn looks healthier and better each year. And it’s a lot easier than making compost from all my leaves and spreading that over the lawn for the same effect.

  5. Why use a bagger? Just use your mower to mulch the leaves and feed your lawn at the same time! You can rake, or blow, leaves from your planting beds into the lawn and mulch them as well.

  6. What, waste those leaves by giving them away? Never. They go into the compost pile, onto the vege garden, onto the shade garden or pile them up to smother the grass for more flower garden space. Any left on the lawn are mowed with the mulching mower to add nutrients back into the lawn. I even take my neighbors leaves to use in my garden.

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