Saturday, October 18, 2008

Leaf Raking 101

Ahhhhh....autumn. Crisp air, Halloween decorations, a different wardrobe, fall foliage, and then the inevitable leaves falling. And falling. And then piling up.

There might be a few of you out there that don't necessarily need to perform the annual activity of raking leaves. I feel that I am responsible for sharing this experience with you.

We don't exactly have a large yard, but because we're on a corner lot we have a little bit more yard than others. That also means we have a bit more trees. With leaves on them. And then the leaves fall and if you leave them there, they will kill your grass. Leaves are grass-murderer's!

So first you need the proper equipment. There are a few options - metal rake (on left) , plastic rake (on right), and Brian's favorite - a riding lawn mower that mulches as it sucks up the leaves. But that's just a little pipe dream of his. A push lawn mower never killed anyone. Except for those who are seriously out of shape. It would most likely kill them.

And you definitely need working gloves. It gets really ugly if you don't have gloves.

Here is a shot of our side yard and our partial back yard. Since it is in the shade it's hard to see all the leaves but you get an idea of our "before" picture.

You might ask me - so how do you start raking? Do you just grab a raking and start jabbing at the ground? Oh no, no, no. There is a method. In our area we have leaf pick-up. This is done in two ways:
1. Rake leaves up and stuff them in leaf bags and drag bags to end of driveway for pick up.
2. Rake leaves to edge of yard that borders street and make a pile. This huge truck then comes around and sucks all the leaves up. I'm not sure what it does with the leaves at that point but I have a sneaking suspicion that they charge us tax-payers to mulch those leaves up, sell them to garden supply stores, and then sell our own mulched up leaves back to us. I'm starting to sound more and more like my father.
Our yard from above. I was attempting to show you technique in this shot but the shade does make it difficult. For the back yard, since it is far from the street, we have to stuff the leaves into leaf bags. My technique with the backyard is to rake the perimeter, always moving inward. This is the most efficient way to consolidate piles of leaves. You will end up with a number of smaller leaf-piles that are close to each other. This is much better than dragging your rake across the lawn to the one pile in the middle. That's just stupid.

You always need an audience to cheer you on. Lily and the princesses gave valuable direction and let us know whenever we missed a leaf. After the bigillionth time we had to inform her that if she wanted to point out all the "missed leafs" she could grab herself a rake and do it herself. She and the princesses declined.

Always have a helper. It also helps to teach 'em young. This way he will always think this is his job.

This is the "after" picture. But again, because of the shade, it's hard to tell. We ended up filling 8 leaf bags with this portion of the yard alone.

Then Brian moved on to the front yard while the kids and I went inside. Since the front yard isn't fenced in, it isn't exactly Jamie-proof. Since the front yard obviously borders the street Brian is raking the leaves onto a tarp that he will then drag to the street for the leaf-suck-up machine.

You can see some of the piles that our neighbors have raked to the street as well as the leaf bag option the people across the street chose. You can also see the lazy neighbors that haven't touched their yard. We all judge them. But they do give out good Halloween candy, so you have to give them that.

I know how intensive this lesson has been but I also know that I have given you the tools you need to rake your yard. So, go forth, grab your rake and dedicate a good four hours to cleaning up your lawn. Your grass will love you in the spring.

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