Ways to rake and use leaves in the garden which will save you time and money
Have you ever thought that there might be a right and a wrong way to rake leaves? No? Well we’ve got some tips to make your leaf-raking chores a breeze. The best way to rake leaves is a method that will save you both time and money.
Why do you need to rake leaves anyway?
If you aren’t someone that likes everything neat and tidy, you might see raking leaves as pretty pointless, unless you have a problem with lots of leaves clogging up your lawn. But forget tidiness for a moment, because leaves can be really useful in other areas of the garden. Raking up and using your leaves can save you money.
- Add shredded leaves to the compost heap. If you don’t make compost, why not start? Making your own compost is a great money-saver. A good compost mix is 2/3 shredded leaves, 1/3 green kitchen waste and grass clippings.
- Make leaf mold to use as compost. Pile leaves up to three feet high, keep them moist and let them rot down for 2 years minimum. Leaf mold less than two years old can be used as a mulch to keep moisture in the soil and protect plants from extreme temperatures.
- Add your raked leaves and other garden debris to an undisturbed log pile to create a habitat for your local wildlife. Many creatures like to snuggle down in leaf piles and the organic matter will eventually be recycled naturally by all sorts of invertebrates.
Choosing the Right Rake
The Best Way to Rake Leaves
You might be thinking ‘come on, a rake is a rake!’. Well, yes. But there are loads of different ones designed for specific jobs. Pick the right rake for the job and your back will thank you for it later.
The best way to rake leaves is usually with a leaf rake (amazingly). But if you have other debris you might consider a sturdier lawn rake. Have a look below.
A few Different Rakes
A rake designed for breaking up soil in garden beds is known as a bow rake or flat rake (or garden rake – it has many names. It’s the one we’re probably all most familiar with). The T-shaped head has a set of short metal teeth or ‘tines’ which are rigid.
A leaf rake or lawn rake usually has a much wider head in a fan shape, often made of plastic but also metal. There are many different shapes and sizes. Leaf rakes are just for leaves, while lawn rakes should be able to deal with other debris like cut grass.
The bargain-priced plastic leaf rakes you see in many stores might be fine (for a few minutes!) but investing in something sturdier is worth it if you regularly have a whole heap of leaves to deal with. Many plastic products are designed to be thrown away after a very short lifespan – this is not a sustainable way of living. Invest in decent tools and they will last a lifetime.
If you want a rake that will deal with lawn debris as well as leaves, one with sharp metal teeth is the way to go. You may want to look at getting a thatch rake, also known as a scarifying rake if you have a lot of build-up on the lawn to remove. You might even look at investing in an electric lawn rake for big jobs.
How to Choose the Best Rake
For the best way to rake leaves might consider the following:
- How long is the rake handle and how tall are you?
- What is the rake made of (steel, fiberglass, plastic, wood)? Will it last?
- Is the head wide enough to cover a decent area with each sweep?
- Will a plastic rake deal with tough debris?
- Are the rake tines sharp, to remove thatch from lawns as well as leaves?
- How heavy is the rake? Who will be using it?
- Does the rake have an ergonomic design?
- Does the handle have cushion for a comfortable grip?
- Does the rake have a guarantee?
- Do you want to use the rake for other jobs (raking soil, mulch, etc)?
If the answer to the last one on this list is a yes, then looking at a lightweight bow rake might be a good idea. Have a look at our pick of some of the best leaf rakes.
Other Handy Kit for the Best Way to Rake Leaves
- A tarp is handy for raking leaves onto – simply drag to the compost heap
- Gardening gloves – useful for prickly debris like holly leaves
- Leaf scoops – like a pair of massive hands – pick up big quantities of leaves in one go
Best Way to Rake Leaves
Get the Timing Right
Choose a day when the leaves are dry and there is no wind. Wait until all of the leaves have dropped. That way you get the job done in one go. For leaves that drop earlier than your planned tidy-up, collect them when you cut the grass with a bag attachment. A mulching mower will do this for you and produce a perfect mix of shredded leaves and grass cuttings for your compost heap.
Dealing with Thatch
You can rake up lawn thatch at the same time you deal with leaves, and get two jobs done at once. Thatch is a layer of dead grass and other debris between the soil and the green growth that can suffocate your lawn.
If you have lots of difficult thatch to deal with, a scarifying rake might be needed. But even if you get a little bit of the lawn thatch up with your leaf-raking, it will help your lawn. This is one reason why a rake is better than a leaf blower in this case – because you can do some lawn tidying as well as collecting leaves.
Raking the Right Way
Rake vigorously and take your time to get as much debris up as possible. Use an ergonomically-designed rake to help relieve pressure on your hands, arms and back. Take breaks, and be thorough!
A rake with metal tines is the best choice if you want to tackle as much lawn debris as possible. Plastic ones will break if you try to put too much pressure on them.