Wondering how to rake leaves fast? As a child, I wondered about how I could rake leaves faster every single fall. I hated raking, more than any other outdoor chore. As a result, I have given a lot of thought to the fastest methods. In this post, you can read through my logic, and be your own judge. Let me know what your experience has been in the comments, and by the end of all this, hopefully we’ll have come to some conclusions about the best ways to rake quickly — this way we can all get it over with until next year.
Don’t Hire Someone
First and foremost, the absolute fastest way to get your leaf raking out of the way this fall would be to hire someone. Don’t do this. It’s so expensive. Raking is terrible, but as we’ll explore below, there are ways to speed up the process. Hiring a landscaping company to handle your leaf removal is the lazy person’s way out. You can do this!
How to Rake Leaves
Here are the basics. First, you need a leaf rake, not an iron rake. (It’s inefficient for leaves and is better suited for gravel, sticks, and soil.) You’ll want to pull the rake along with you and sweep the leaves; don’t just drag them, letting your rake flow behind, or you’ll be there forever. This is about speed. Put your hands at least as far apart as your shoulder width, and keep your top hand near the end of the handle. Take long, fast sweeping strokes to maximize your efficiency. This will move the leaves quickly off your yard. Prolonging this process is only going to make it more annoying. Don’t be afraid to break a sweat.
When to Rake Leaves
The first question of efficiency worth addressing is when. Some folks prefer to wait until all their leaves have fallen so they only have to rake once, or so that most of the leaves blow to the downwind corner of the yard. I actually believe this is mathematically inefficient, because dry leaves sitting on the ground tend to absorb moisture and glob together with mud. They get heavier as a result. I believe raking twice per season is best: Once after the lawn is mostly covered, and once after the first hard frost, when most of the rest of the leaves in your trees will fall. If you get an early frost, your leaves may all fall quickly, but this means they won’t have a chance to absorb a lot of water.
More Leaves, Less Energy
Considering the shape of your yard is key to doing less work and saving more time. When you mow the lawn, it’s natural to try to avoid covering the same ground multiple times. For some reason, when we rake, we tend to neglect this fact. In an ideal situation, your rake will only pass over a strip of your lawn once. When I rake, I try to pick out spots in the center of large square sections of the yard, and rake from the outside of each square in toward the middle, moving in a circle around the pile. If I find I’m pushing too large a pile during a single pass, I try to make my square smaller. That gets cumbersome fast.
Man vs. Machine
Although I’m sure their are exceptions, I tend to think leaf blowers are a waste of time. Sure, you don’t have to go through the exertion of creating friction between your tool and the ground when you use a leaf blower, you to have to lug the heavy thing around and run an extension cord all over your yard. In the end the time required for raking vs leaf blowing seems pretty much the same to me . Industrial leaf blowers that roll or involve a back-back-like engine are an exception, but do you really have enough yard to merit buying one of those? Probably not. A long-toothed plastic or steel rake works best for me, especially if it has a comfortable grip and the bristles make a wide fan.
Tarps, Wheelbarrows and Bags
Regardless of how you pile up your leaves, you’ll still have to get them off your yard before they start blowing around again. There are a few regular methods for removing leaves. The most common is probably bagging. There are paper, compostable leaf bags. But many people still bag leaves in plastic. The problem with bags is that they fill so quickly. Leaves just don’t compress easily. Bags are only good for people taking leaves to the landfill. If you don’t want to do that, try using a wheel barrow to move your leaves to a compost pile. If your build allows, you can drag your leaves to a compost pile, you might try spreading a tarp on the ground, filling it with leaves, putting all four corners together and dragging it to the compost.
Composting vs. Dumping
Composting is by far the best method for disposing of leaves for people with the property to accommodate a compost pile. Bagging leaves takes an incredibly long time, plus bags cost money and create pollution. Even if you use the compostable paper bags, you still have to haul the bags either to the dump or to the corner of your yard for your home town’s yard waste retrieval service to haul away. Why put all this energy and cost into the elimination of your leaves if you can avoid it?
Consider Mowing Your Leaves
Although it might just seem like a lazy approach, we’ve told you before here on DailyPerk that ditching the leaf rake and simply mowing your leaves can be an ultra efficient way to get rid of your leaves and fertilize your lawn. You need to do it the right way (outlined in the link above), but if you do, this can be the best option of all.
As an adult, I can tell you there’s a reason I live in a high-rise apartment building. Even though I know how to rake leaves, I still don’t like doing it. But every once in a while, I get asked to help with the raking at a family member’s house (one of the benefits of being the oldest male in my generation). When I do rake leaves now, I always think about how to rake them in the most efficient way possible. Sometimes, I mow them.
What is your best advice about how to rake leaves quickly? Do you have any pro tips you always use yourself? Share them or your leaf-raking frustrations below. We’ll be sure to say hello and either thank you or commiserate.