Leaf Raking Tips for Older Gardeners

It’s that time of year again, the race to clean up the fallen leaves before the snow flies is on!   Older adults may dread this chore a little more each year and while some can afford to hire a service or will enlist the kids and grand kids to help, getting outdoors and enjoying the sights and smells of the season can still be tempting.

Luckily there are a few inexpensive tools on the market that can ease the strain on older backs for those who must bag their own leaves.  Leaf funnels and collector bags are inexpensive tools worth their weigh in gold; look for systems that direct leaves or clippings into paper bags while on their side to avoid bending and lifting.  If curbside vacuum pickup is an option, leaf haulers are a good choice.  Essentially tarps with 3 sides, these collapsible tarps can be staked into the ground and then dragged by handles to the curb, avoiding heavy lifting.

Choose a rake that feels comfortable and does not cause poor posture that can lead to back pain. There are a number of ergonomic models with curved handles as well as long handled pick up tools which can grab piles of leaves without any bending.  And old school lawn sweepers are still on the market for those who want to avoid raking all together but don’t want to deal with awkward or heavy leaf blowers.  The only drawback to sweepers is that they need to be emptied often and may not be ideal for large lawns.

As the leaves begin to fall, try using the lawnmower to mulch leaves as long as possible.  This will only be effective with a gradual accumulation or small leaves  from trees such as locust or crab apple.  Once the majority of the leaves fall, usually after a good rain or wind, the blanket of leaves will be too thick to mulch.

As with any new activity, pace yourself and work for short periods of time with plenty of breaks to stretch, rest and hydrate.  Check the weather and plan your leaf cleanup when the lawn is dry and the winds are calm.