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5 Ways Smart Homeowners Deal With Fall Leaves

Updated: Sep. 26, 2019

Fall cleanup tips to help you save time and work

FH12OCT_LEAVES_01-2Family Handyman
Learn different methods for dealing with the annual problem of fall leaves. Field Editors from around the country share their tips for fall cleanup.

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Field Editors’ cleanup tips for fall leaves

Gary Wentz

Gary Wentz is a Senior Editor at TFH and the CEO of lawn care at home.

Vern Johnson

Vern Johnson, Art Director, doesn’t need to rake—all the leaves fall right into his gutters.

You’ve probably been raking leaves since you were a kid. And you might figure that there’s nothing left to learn. That’s what Vern and I thought too. But when we asked The Family Handyman’s crew of Field Editors for advice, we got this heap of tips for saving time and labor. Take a few minutes to read the following tips to save yourself hours of work this fall.

Bag ’em

Mower collection

We have a BIG yard and lots of trees. So I bag the leaves with my mower. It does a nice job of shredding the leaves, so they’re ready to become compost or mulch.
Gary Dowley

Gary Dowley

Gary Dowley is a Field Editor in Sequim, WA. He just built a 30 x 48-ft. greenhouse and is now considering a workshop or a kitchen remodel. (His wife wants the kitchen remodel, so that decision has been made, whether he knows it or not.)

Rake picks

The right tool

Lots of Field Editors told us about their favorite rakes. The most popular rakes are beloved just for their size—a big rake makes the job smaller. Most home centers carry rakes up to 30 in. wide.

Other Field Editors swear by “no-clog” rakes—the tines don’t skewer leaves, so you don’t have to stop and unclog the rake. Several manufacturers make them, also in widths up to 30 in.

Mulch fall leaves

Lawn fertilizer

A mulching mower shreds leaves into tiny flakes that settle into the turf and decompose into natural fertilizer. You might have to go over some areas two or three times to completely chop up the leaves. Still, it’s fast and easy and it makes the grass happy.

Cameron LiDestri

Cameron LiDestri is a Field Editor in Stratford, CT, where he tries to keep his house from falling apart, works on his vintage VW Beetle and restores antique radios.

Vacuum in tight spots

Yard vac

A leaf blower/vacuum sucks up leaves fast, especially around shrubs, in flower beds and in other hard-to-rake areas. You might think that the bag would need to be emptied every five minutes, but the vac minces the leaves and packs a mountain of them into just a few bags.

Dave Switzer

Dave Switzer is a Field Editor in Overland Park, KS, where he’s working on a basement remodel and restoring a 1965 F-250.

A tarp beats a trailer

Drag and drop

Instead of bagging or hauling leaves, I rake them onto a tarp, which I drag into the woods. It’s even easier if you get your kids to do it!

Mark Ripplinger

Mark Ripplinger is a Field Editor in Deltona, FL. He just finished a new door for his bathroom, built a table using barn wood from the family farm and painted his Jeep. Now he deserves a rest.

Required Tools for this Project

Have the necessary tools for this DIY project lined up before you start—you’ll save time and frustration.

  • Garden rake

  • Lawnmower
  • Plastic tarp
  • Leaf blower/vacuum

Required Materials for this Project

Avoid last-minute shopping trips by having all your materials ready ahead of time. Here’s a list.

  • Leaves