Leaves & Raking
Yikes - it is leaf-raking time… We admit this is not our favourite times of year – yes the fall colours are pretty – but fall colour equals leaf raking and well – we would rather be doing other things... But leaf raking is really important if you are trying to have either a nice lawn or have happy neighbours. The neighbours comment is self-explanatory as having your leaves blow on their lawn can be a topic of conversation. The lawn bit also makes some sense as you are trying to avoid having piles of wet soggy leaves choke out the lawn.
So – here are a few tips on how to make the ‘chore’ of leaf raking easier.
Mow… This is our favourite – using the mulching function of the power mower just mow the leaves and turn them into mulch – rather than raking them up and dragging them to the curb. This idea works best early in the fall as the leaves are just starting to fall. It is not a good idea if you have a lot of mature trees as there will be too much volume – at our house it is good idea in front yard but poor idea in back. Also avoid if you have a lot of oaks which tend toward the acid side of the pH scale – better to take oak leaves to curb than turn your lawn too acidic.
Tarps… If we must rake – we have become big fans of the ‘tarp’ and find that raking leave onto a tarp is an easy way to move leaves around the yard, to the compost pile or to the curb. Plastic sheeting works – canvas painter tarps work – we think a tarp about 2m square is a good size. Just stand on the tarp and drag the leaves to your feet.
Gloves… As leaf raking is done just once a year we are amazed at the blisters – so protect your hands with leather gardening gloves. These also protect from possible cuts as you are scooping and filling bags.
Watch your back… Again as this is often a once a year task for many – it is easy to over do it and irritate or pull muscles. A few tips:
- Change your direction to spread the pain – rake for a few minutes on left side – then switch to the right side. We know this sounds like your mother – but lift with your legs not your back – as you huffle bags and tarps and wheelbarrows around the yard - use your legs.
- Watch the wind... work with the wind facing you to save a few rake strokes. Consider a better rake – there are a lot of nifty ‘ergonomic’ rakes now on the market – and if you are watching for a sore back – think about a rake upgrade.
Think about a mask… Raking dry leaves is the right idea as the ‘wet’ leaves are heavy and mushy and don’t rake well. But dry leaves can get very dusty and have a few bits of pollen on them – so are just primed to aggravate any allergies. A dust mask always seems like overkill when we are raking – but based on our typical sneezing/sniffles after an afternoon of ‘fun’ raking – a mask is a good idea.
So go forth and rake… and enjoy the season!
• Fall Bulbs