Leaf raking 101

low light photography of dried maple leaf

Photo by Vlad Bagacian on Pexels.com

The Joy of Raking Leaves

I used to have a large lawn and even bigger back yard and I really enjoyed raking leaves. It’s so satisfying and it’s wonderful exercise if you don’t overdo it. I saw my neighbors pass by and say hello. And there was frolicking in leaf piles when kids were involved. Good times.

When Will the Leaves Fall?

Maximum leaf fall should be occurring at the end of the month or the beginning of November in Northern Virginia, depending on weather conditions. If you find you are raking leaves while the weather is unseasonably warm, do look out for yellow jackets.

How to Protect Your Back While Raking Leaves

If you have a bunch of leaves to rake, the recommended technique is to use a rake and a tarp. You will rake the leaves over the tarp. Try not to a twisting motion, protect your back. Plant your feet, center your weight and bend your knees slightly. Let your arms do the work instead of reaching over by bending your back.

You should take frequent breaks. Stop every 20 minutes to stretch your back. You do not have to do it all in one day. If you’re not in good shape, hire someone reliable to do it for you. I would get references from your neighbors, if you can. Sometimes, strangers go around offering to rake leaves but I would not hire strangers to do work around my home, including snow removal.

But if you have a healthy back, why not make it a family activity? Buy as many good quality rakes as you have family members (or toy ones for the very little ones). Have some cold cider and pumpkin bread for brakes. That is how you take tasks and turn them into memories.

When your tarp is full, drag the tarp(s) full of leaves to make big piles on the street or curb (NOT where people have to park) so Fairfax County can come and vacuum them up on designated leaf-vacuuming days.

That’s fun to watch, by the way.

You can tell when they are coming to your neighborhood by signing up for email notification or looking out for the posted notices in your neighborhood. They come three times and if you miss the third time you have to bag your leaves and put them out for collection.

To Bag or To Mulch? That is the Question

Some say mowing the leaves into the grass is the way to go. They say it is good for the grass. But I had huge amounts of leaves to contend with so that wouldn’t have worked for me.

If you have to bag your leaves, I recommend this handy contraption to hang your paper or plastic bag on. It’s metal and it folds up, so it’s easier to store. Harbor Freight calls this a folding trash bag stand and sell it for $8. The Leaf Buddy (the one I got) is similar, maybe a little bit bigger and is available on Amazon. Using a bag stand makes the process much easier, and you can really squish the leaves down into the bag this way, which saves bags and lugging.


About Mary Fletcher Jones

Mary Fletcher Jones is a mom, teacher, and blogger. Her blogs include Autumn in Virginia, Cool Yule Blog and You Can't Make This Stuff Up, among others. She is also the creator of "Living Well With Autism," an online resource for caregivers of children, teens, and adults with autism and related special needs.
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