Leaf Patrol

Yesterday, I finally finished up this year’s round of fall leaf removal. After 5 go-arounds with leaf removal on this property, I’m getting better at it, but the process could still stand some improvement.

The bulk of the leaves fall in back of the house, with the Tulip Poplars starting earliest, and the Oaks finishing up last. The Tulip Poplars start dropping leaves in mid to late August, creating an ongoing chore of clearing leaves from the pool, pool area and deck. The rest of the trees are better behaved, and drop their leaves in November.

Up to now, my leaf removal equipment has consisted of: Toro electric blower/vac mulcher, push broom, rake, and an old chipper/shredder (rescued from my parents’ garage).

Now, the Toro actually does a really nice job. I use it in vac mode in the summer, to clean up around the pool area without blowing debris into the pool. The blower does a good job clearing off the deck and other paved surfaces. Its only problem? The cord. It’s a pain maneuvering the cord around the pool fencing and trying to keep it from falling in the pool. This past fall, I tried using the blower to clear some grassy areas, but my extension cord was too short. My solution for next season: I’m going to upgrade to a gas powered blower/vac, probably an Echo ES-230. I’m hoping it’ll work as well as the Toro, without the cord.

The next big issue is removing the piles of leaves from the property. This year, I mulch/composted a bunch with the chipper/shredder, and put a bunch more out for yard waste pickup. I’m really looking for ways to make this process more efficient, because it’s long, hard work. The chipper/shredder has a ramp that you can lower to the ground, and rake leaves right up into the unit. I used to use this, but this year I found it was faster to just grab a big armload of leaves, and slowly drop it into the hopper. After a few tries, I got it so that I could do this without clogging up the intake. Still, this takes a long time. A bigger chipper/shredder might help. I’ve seen yard sweepers (Agri-Fab seems to be a popular brand) selling for $200 or so at Sears and Lowes. Still, with the amount of leaves we get here, mulching them down is pretty much a necessity, or I’d be putting out hundreds of bags a year for pickup. I’d love it if Howard County would start doing a service where you rake all your leaves to the curbside, and they pick them up without you having to bag them. That would eliminate the need for mulching, but they’d probably use it as an excuse to jack up our property taxes again.

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