I have a decent size backyard and after years of raking – I finally figured out how to rake more effectively.
- Don’t be the first person on the block to start raking. People have a tendency to start raking way too early. If you are the first, other neighbor’s leaves are going to just blow into your yard, and most likely you failed to look up and see a lot more leaves on the trees.
- Only start raking after there has been a good wind or rain storm. I always wait until after a good wind storm or rain before I start raking – this ensures that most the leaves are off the trees and the rain helps the leaves stay in place after you rake them to the street (assuming you do not bag leaves and rather the city picks up piles you create in front of your house). I have laughed many a times at my neighbors who rake on a nice sunny day then wake up the next morning only to find their piles back in their yards. Nice fall weather is for golfing, not raking.
- Use one of the large garbage cans with wheels to transport raked leaves. This is by far the biggest time saver. I have tried sheets of plastic, dragging the piles of leaves with my rake, etc – but using a big garbage can on wheels makes it so much easier. (This is also a good technique for moving.)
- Do not push any existing piles of leaves. This is a huge time suck. I realized I spent about 60% of my raking time gathering and pushing leaves into one or a few big piles. By only focusing on a small area, and creating small piles (then put into the garbage can for transport) you can save a lot of time and focus on actual raking, and not moving the leaves. As a rule of thumb, I only rake an area the length of my rake. When I have cleared that area, I move on. A side note: when Amy first saw me do this she thought I was crazy, but when I cleared the yard in record time I got a “wow” out of her.
- Don’t be a perfectionist. With one gust of wind or even a few hours, your yard will have some leaves in it again. Don’t kill yourself trying to get every leaf. You will only waste time.
- Wait as long as possible to do the details. I have a nice combination of ivy and bushes in the backyard and getting the leaves out of there is frustrating…and because of this, I only do it once and as late in the season as I can. No need to be frustrated more than once.
I never liked raking as a child, but with my new more efficient practices, it is almost fun just to finish as quickly as possible and watch my neighbors scratch their heads when I only rake once (major) and then do a small detail job (latest date possible before major snow) while they are raking every weekend.