4 Smart Ways to Remove (and Reuse) Leaves in the Spring and Fall

Jess Lynk
Written by Jess Lynk
Updated September 15, 2022
A young man raking leaves in his backyard in autumn
Photo: Steve Prezant/Image Source/Getty Images

Your yard is going to look unbe-leaf-ably clean

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Fallen leaves look beautiful—until they’re in your yard. Plus, if you allow a heavy layer of leaves to sit on your yard in the winter, it can prevent new growth in the spring and even cause mold and disease. Learn what to do with leaves in the spring and fall so your yard stays healthy year-round.

What Should You Do With Leaves in the Spring and Fall?

Nothing says fall like yellow, orange, and red leaves blanketing the ground. But that doesn’t mean you want them in your yard. The default to cleaning up leaves is often raking, but you have more options than that, no matter what season you’re in.

Keep reading for four smart ways to remove and reuse leaves in the spring and fall.

1. Blow Your Leaves

Close-up of a hand holding a leaf blower
Photo: Greenseas/iStock / Getty Images Plus / Getty Images

If you want a faster way to clean up leaves than raking, you can blow your leaves with a leaf blower. This will give you less control than a rake, but it does save you time. Blow the leaves to the same area so you can easily bag them or haul them away on a tarp. 

You can purchase leaf blowers that have a vacuum feature to make clean-up easier. This does not give you as much accuracy, but you’ll be able to quickly pick up leaves as you work.

Bonus: You can make a fun leaf pile for your kids (or dog) to play in before you clean up the blown leaves.

2. Create a Compost Pile

Start a compost pile to get valuable mulch for your yard. To make a compost pile, you’ll want to gather a pile of autumn leaves in the corner of your yard, away from where you spend time. 

To keep leaves and other small pieces in the pile, you should create or purchase a structure for them. Some options include a 32-gallon garbage can with a lid or building a wooden frame and attaching chicken wire. 

Leaves play an important part in composting because they are carbon-rich. When you layer the leaves with green material, like grass clippings, you’ll be able to create the ideal compost pile.

3. Mulch Leaves

Mulching leaves helps return nitrogen to the soil, according to the University of New Hampshire. To make sure the process goes smoothly, you can chop them up so your leaves are not too thick. You can do this by passing over them a few times with a lawnmower until they’re cut up into small dime-size pieces. 

“Try to mulch when the leaves are relatively dry to prevent smothering your yard. Keep in mind that mulching doesn’t work on pine needles, so you’ll have to pick them out by hand before mulching the rest of your leaves,” says Rupa Mehta, outdoor home expert at Angi.

To mulch leaves properly, you may need a curved mulching blade. This type of blade helps chop the leaves into smaller pieces that your lawn can absorb more easily. If your mower doesn’t currently have this feature, you can purchase a conversion kit from your mower’s manufacturer or at your local home improvement store.

Since this can be a dusty job, wear a mask and goggles—especially if you are sensitive to dust or prone to allergies.

4. Rake Leaves Into Planting Beds

From wearing gloves to buying the right rake, learning how to rake leaves properly is the first step you should take. Since leaves have many nutrients in them, raking them into planting beds or your vegetable garden is a great way to get them off your lawn with minimal effort in the spring and fall. 

Be sure to only rake small leaves into these areas, as larger leaves will not allow for airflow. If your leaf piles are larger, chop them up and fill them in similar to mulch—around trees and plants, but not too close to the roots. 

If you have a garden, leaves also protect winter root crops like carrots and beets. If you cover these vegetables with leaves, you’ll be able to continue to harvest them all winter.

What Are the Benefits of Raking Leaves?

When leaves cover your yard, it can be quite tempting to keep the beautiful colors on your lawn. As alluring as this is, busting out the rake can be beneficial to your health—and your yard. 

Here are a few benefits of raking leaves in the spring and fall:

  • Encourages growth: When you rake leaves in the fall, the sun will be able to fully hit the grass underneath after winter passes, allowing for healthy growth in the spring.

  • Stops the spread of diseases: Dead leaves can harbor disease when left on the ground. Raking them up quickly can save your trees and plants.

  • Burns calories: Raking leaves is a full body workout that builds up core strength and strengthens your back.

How Much Does It Cost to Hire a Landscaper to Rake Leaves?

Don’t want to spend your days raking up leaves in the spring or fall? You can hire a landscaping company instead. Most landscaping companies offer leaf removal services. On average, it costs $360 to have leaves removed from your yard, but it could be $190 on the low end up to $560, depending on the size of your lawn and how many trees you have. 

A common method the pros use involves mobile vacuuming to remove even the smallest leaf bits from your lawn. Or they may rake leaves onto a tarp and haul them away on a trailer. You may want to wait until almost all your leaves are down before calling or you will have to have them come out several times.

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