From leaf blowers to vacuums, we’ve used all kinds of products and technology to tackle this annual chore. Sometimes the best approach is well-designed, simple tools.
Like clockwork, each fall as the first batch of leaves fall, towns and neighborhoods roar awake with the sound of gas-powered leaf blowers.
It’s the annual battle of weekend warriors versus the leaves—and you know what’s at stake: not only is the debris an eyesore and a nuisance, especially if your leaves blow onto your neighbor’s clean lawn but if you stall, a mantle of snow might cover them and smother the grass. That means more work for you come spring.
What Happens If You Don’t Pick Up Leaves?
If you don’t pick up fallen leaves, they could end up harming the grass and killing the yard. So it’s important to clean up the yard regularly, especially in the fall.
The Best Tools to Collect Leaves
Gas leaf blowers, and their far quieter battery-powered cousins, can be handy to direct a pile of leaves. But as fast as they can be, nearly as quickly you can make more work for yourself by launching leaves the wrong way. And there are a few uses for leaves in the garden, for things like mulch.
On a small lawn, you could chop them up into fine bits with a lawnmower and let them decompose in the lawn. But for homeowners who like to bag leaves for disposal, simply piling leaves doesn’t help get them in bags.
When it comes to getting leaves into bags, we’ve found the best way, after you’ve piled them on the lawn or the street with a leaf blower or a trusty rake, is to use a system that makes them easy to get onto a tarp and then into your bag.
The Best Leaf Tarp
EZ Lawn and Garden 6×4-foot Leaf Hauler Sport
This tarp has some smart features that make it easier to use. Handles along the outer edge make it easy to reposition, but the ones along the narrow edges are perfect for picking up the loaded tarp, folding it over like a taco, and then tipping its contents into a bag or pail. Stiff corners and tent-pole-like rods give it enough structure so filling it is easier.
The 6×4-foot size holds 24 square feet of leaves, or about four wheelbarrows fullFolds up for easy storageHas a pair of stakes built in to keep the tarp steady on a lawn90-day warrantyPros
Makes loading leaf bags easierBetter than a regular tarp when transporting a pile of leaves by dragging itBuilt-in structure prevents leaves from blowing right out of the tarpEasy to wash off with a hoseCons
The 6×4-foot size might be a bit too small on larger properties with several mature deciduous trees
The Best Leaf Chute
KwicKan 33-55 Gallon Portable Instant Container
This simple piece of bendable plastic makes it much easier to load leaves when working solo. Stick it into a paper or plastic bag, up to 55 gallons, and it will flex open to a “U” shape and hold the bag open plenty wide for you to put in leaves by hand, by shovel, or using a tarp. Works for just about anything you put in a bag, like lawn clippings or trash.
Made from 0.06-gauge ABS plasticHandles on all sides makes it easy to grabSmooth corners won’t rip bags.47×28-inch size is easy to store flat against a wallNo warrantyPros
Makes cleaning leaves a one-person job or increases the efficiency of everyone’s work if you use twoFlexible plastic won’t rip bags and is easy to useCan be used for opening bags throughout the yearCons
If you do chip an edge, it can snag bags and cause ripping
The Best Leaf Shovel
Razor-Back 36-inch D-Handle Aluminum Scoop
A shovel for leaves might sound odd, but if you like to push leaves out into the street before collecting them or have a bunch of wet leaves to pick up, a shovel you can push along the road makes filling bags easier.
The key is to have the bag wide open and a shovel with a head narrow enough to fit inside. This aluminum scoop won’t rust, and while it can also move rocks, soil, granulated lawn amendments, and compost, it makes short work of a pile of leaves.
The head is #14 size made from rust-proof aluminumThe D-shaped handle is generously sized and comfortableThe ribbed 15 1/4-inch-wide pan increases durability without adding weightThe 58 1/2-inch-long shovel, made with a hardwood shaft and handle, is a comfortable size to useLifetime limited warrantyPros
Large pan but the shovel is easy and comfortable to useDurable design for use all year longMakes it easier to collect leaves if you tend to blow or rake them into the streetCons
The head might make it harder to fill narrower paper leaf bag openings
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