This time of year, trees put on quite a spectacular show. Their leaves colored in yellow, orange, and red create impressive scenery. Unfortunately, as the season progresses, the once beautiful leaves turn your lawn into a mess. Whether you’re a veteran homeowner or you’ve just bought your first home, cleaning up leaves is a cumbersome task. Having the proper plan and tools can make it easier.

Here are some tips to help with your leaf cleanup project.

1. Understand your disposal options. Before you start working, think about how you’re going to dispose of your leaves. Some cities allow you to rake leaves into the street for pickup. If this is the case in your city, make sure you don’t cover storm drains or block fire hydrants.

Otherwise, you may have a local collection center that’ll allow you to drop off yard waste. If this is the case for you, your city may require proof of residency before you can drive in and begin dumping. In West Bend, you must have a sticker to gain access. For us, it’s the best $25 ever spent.

If you’re an avid gardener, using leaves as compost is a great solution. This can provide your garden with rich nutrients for next year’s growing season.

Lastly, never just leave them on your lawn. Piles of leaves can kill or damage your grass. Leaves can block sunlight and reduce water evaporation. This results in fungus, mold, and disease.

2. Select the best tools for the job. Having the proper tools can make cleanup easier and safe. Here some different tools you can use depending on the size of your property and the amount of leaves.

  • Common leaf rake. Usually made of plastic with a wood handle, this rake can be used for raking leaves into a pile or onto a plastic tarp. If you’d like to spend a bit more money, you can buy an ergonomic rake which may be easier on your body. Don’t forget to wear gloves to prevent blisters.
  • Pickup rake. This is a small rake that can be used to pick up leaves or other debris.
  • Leaf claws or scoops. They attach to your hands and help you pick up leaves with ease. They remind me of the Incredible Hulk’s hands. If you buy some of these, your kids may enjoy helping.
  • Leaf tarp. Using a tarp is a great way to collect large amounts of leaves. Once they’re on the tarp, you’ll be able to move them easily around your yard.
  • Blower. As a homeowner, I use my blower all the time. Whether its removing debris from my garage, blowing leaves, or clearing a light dusting of snow, it works well. While you still may need to use a rake to create a pile, a blower can move them easily and quickly. Please note, if it’s a very windy day, a blower won’t work well and may lead to frustration. Wait for the wind to calm down.
  • Mulching lawn mower. If you have a light collection of leaves each year, a mulching lawn mower will work great. You can even bag the leaves if you’d like.
  • Leaf vacuum. If you live in a heavily wooded area, and have a riding lawn mower, you can try this. A leaf vacuum hooks up to your rider. As you drive over the leaves, the vacuum sucks them up, grinds them, and sends them into a pull-behind container.
  • Lawn sweeper. This is like a leaf vacuum as it hooks up to your riding lawn mower. However, the difference is it uses a sweeping motion to pull the leaves into the cart. It doesn’t grind them up.
  • Walk-behind power vacuum. Instead of vacuuming your carpet, you’ll be able to vacuum your yard. This tool sucks up leaves and shreds them before sending them into the collection bag. This is a great investment if your yard is too big to rake, but not large enough for a riding lawn mower.

    3. Ask for assistance. If you have family members or neighbors, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Not only will you get the job done faster, but it can also help prevent injury.

    4. Watch the weather. If it’s going to be a warm day, make sure you drink plenty of water. If it’s a windy day, the wind may do the work for you. Always watch the weather to make sure you wear the appropriate gear.