Here come the fall leaves, so choose your weapon wisely

By James and Morris Carey

Associated Press

Ah, those beautiful fall leaves — beautiful as long as they are on the trees, that is.

Left to pile up on the ground, leaves can provide the perfect environment for fungus growth, which can attack turf and shrubbery. Leaves piled high against a home’s foundation or siding can lead to mold, mildew and rot.

Not to mention the fact that vermin and other pests love the protection that leaves provide up against a home. And fallen leaves slick with rain or ice can result in a nasty fall.


But you’ve got plenty of ways to take care of the problem.

As low-tech as it sounds, a rake is still a great weapon. It’s environmentally friendly and gets the job done thoroughly.

Wood handles have been largely replaced with lighter, more user-friendly metal or composite materials. Some brands have padded grips and are ergonomically designed for a good grip and fewer back, neck and shoulder injuries.

Rakes are now available in a host of shapes and sizes to get between ornamental shrubbery without the least bit of damage.

If you want to go with something that provides more power, you have plenty of choices.

Electric and gas powered leaf blowers have become increasingly popular over the last couple of decades. The power blower moves the leaves into a pile which, as with using a rake, must be placed into garbage bags or cans for disposal.

Many power blowers can also be used to vacuum leaves. This can be an especially tedious task if you have lots of leaves since the bags are small and anything larger would create too much weight to tote the device. And some are adopting ordinances against leaf blowers due to the noise and air pollution that they create.

If you have a large yard, you might want to consider a large walk-behind vacuum. It’s a mini street sweeper and can be used on paths, patios, driveways, streets and turf. It has a huge bag that can be emptied into garbage bags, trash containers or, better yet, your compost pile. One caution: vacuuming up wet leaves can make emptying the bag a huge challenge.


But here’s our pick: Try a mulching mower. It mulches the leaves and grass and shoots the material back into the turf for nutrients. An optional bag can be used when you have more leaves than you need mulch.

A battery operated mulching mover is effective and environmentally friendly.

Regardless of how you gather leaves, one of the best things that you can do is to utilize the leaves as part of a mulch pile. You can recycle the leaves with other organic materials to create rich nutrient that can make your garden both healthy and the envy of the neighborhood.

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