Clearing your lawn of leaves can be a real pain. Invariably, there are tricky spots to reach or leaves left behind. And I won’t even get started about gutter cleaning! Thankfully, there are a number of leaf clean up tools that can help make the job a little bit easier.
I’m not talking about your standard fan rake either.
I’ve split up my list of recommended leaf clean up tools into “must-have” and “nice-to-have” equipment as you look ahead to this autumn.
Some of the more effective products featured in this article do more than one job, which is why I recommend purchasing them (they’re a great value).
Must-Have Leaf Clean Up Tools
The following tools fall into the “essential” category for fall yard work.
You don’t necessarily have to own all of them, but they all serve a unique purpose and help to make annual fall clean up easier and more manageable.
Of course, a traditional fan rake is a common tool for gathering up leaves into piles. Then you have to somehow get them into yard waste bags or a mulcher.
The tongs of a pickup rake make it a perfect solution for this annual chore.
They are a lightweight design often made of durable plastic and also act as a 3-in-1 tool. Pickup rakes can rake, scoop, and pick up leaves or other yard debris with ease.
Leaf Claws or Scoops
Similar to the pickup rake, leaf claws help to scoop or grab large piles of leaves.
The difference between this tool and other similar tools is that they attach directly to your hands instead of being connected to long handles.
These are a great addition to your fall clean-up toolbox if you already have a rake but want something to help you bag leaves or get lawn debris into yard waste bags.
They’re also a less expensive alternative to the pickup rake.
I like the GardEase brand (pictured – here’s an Amazon Link) because they seem to hold up better than some of the cheaper alternatives.
Leaf Gulp or Leaf Chute
The Leaf Gulp is a simple but helpful tool that helps to hold the yard waste bag open.
Don’t you hate it when you’ve got your hands full of leaves and you can’t get the bag to open properly?
This solves that problem!
You can even lay it down on its side to sweep leaves directly into the bag. Winning!
A leaf chute accomplishes the same job in a slightly different way, but cannot be laid on its side.
If you buy only one, I recommend the Leaf Gulp, which you can get on Amazon.
A more expensive, but less labor-intensive option than raking your lawn is investing in a lawn sweeper!
These do all the work of cleaning leaves and debris from your grass in one fell swoop.
You can buy one to tow behind your riding mower like this model from Agri-Fab (pictured), or for around $100 you can purchase a push lawn sweeper to drive around your property like a walk-behind lawnmower (My in-laws own this one from Scott’s).
Either way, your lawn sweeper will sweep the leaves into an attached collection bag.
The leaves can then simply be poured into a yard waste bag, added to your compost pile, or mulched.
This is a pretty helpful tool if you have a larger yard and don’t own a leaf blower (more on that one in a moment).
One of the more expensive solutions, a leaf vacuum helps to take a lot of the work out of yard cleanup each fall. This tool looks like a leaf blower, but it sucks instead of blows (I’m just gonna leave that there).
The vacuumed leaves end up in an attached bag.
Most leaf vacuums have a mulching feature to reduce the volume of your leaves as they are picked up, and while most leaf vacs require patience to use, they do a great job of removing leaves from your yard.
While they are an expensive tool, they do work well and they do every part of leaf clean-up (pick-up, mulch, bag) in one step, which is nice.
One tip – I bought the WORX corded model when I first bought my home, and it broke the first season … some people swear by it, but I can’t recommend this particular product.
Mulching Lawn Mower
Not all mowers have mulching capabilities, so choosing one that does gives you another garden tool that accomplishes more than one job.
A mulching mower shreds leaves into tiny pieces that are left on your lawn to decompose. Through the Fall and Winter months, these carbon-rich leaves will help to add nutrients to your soil.
While mulching your leaves is better than leaving whole leaves on your lawn (doing so could produce mold or fungus), if you have a lot of leaves, you may want to clean them up after mulching them.
Personally I have some giant Maple trees on my property, so I mulch them all with my Honda mower, then I go back over my lawn and bag the mulched leaves in my mower.
This removes most of the leaf scraps, leaves some for my lawn, and gives my turf a nice clean appearance at the end of the year.
Nice-to-Have Leaf Clean Up Tools
While these are not essential tools for fall yardwork, investing a little extra money and purchasing one or more of these tools will make your fall clean up quicker and (in some cases) more fun.
You’ll see a lot of people using a leaf blower during fall cleanup projects.
Landscape companies regularly use leaf blowers. Those who place a priority on time spent cleaning a yard (less time = more yards = more money).
Leaf blowers are particularly useful if your community offers bagless curbside collection for leaves. In that case, you can blow the leaves onto the curb of your street and let the sweeper deal with them.
That being said, a blower only does part of the job if you still need to bag the leaves for collection.
You’ll still have a lot of bagging or lifting to do when you have the leaves blown into a pile (unless you live out in the country and can simply blow your leaves into the woods).
For this reason, I consider a leaf blower more of a nice-to-have product than a must-have leaf clean up tool.
But they’re super fun (especially the powerful backpack blowers), so if you have the money why not grab one? Here’s my list of the best leaf blowers if you want to be sure you get a reliable model.
Here’s a quick video from Husqvarna on the best ways to use a leaf blower on your property:
Having a leaf mulcher is not necessarily a requirement, but it is certainly nice to have if you use a compost bin.
Dry leaves and other dead yard debris are an important part of successful composting ratios (Nitrogen:Carbon).
You can add leaves whole to the compost pile, but mulching them first means that they decompose quicker and take up less space in your compost bin.
Mulching your leaves can be especially helpful if you are putting them in a municipal compost bin for weekly pickup as those tend to be on the smaller side.
If you don’t have a mulching mower, I recommend a mulcher that will sit right on top of your trash can or one that comes with a stand that you can use bags underneath.
This one from WORX is probably my favorite. It makes bagging and mulching a single step, and really reduces the volume of your leaves. You can find it on the Worx Website and compare the price on Amazon to make sure you’re getting the best deal.
Buying a large, heavy-duty tarp is a must for my lawn, but depending upon how many leaves fall on your property, it might just be a “nice-to-have” item.
Laying out a tarp to collect leaves can be an effective way to move large amounts of leaves from your property to a brush dump or compost facility.
You can simply rake or blow leaves onto the tarp and then carefully move the tarp across your lawn. Some tarps have handles; simply fold one of the sides over the top of the leaves, then use the handles to drag the tarp bag around.
This is a particularly useful tool for properties that have bagless curbside collection or enough space for a large compost pile. Dump the leaves at the curb or into the pile.
I use a tarp to swallow up my mulched leaves on my flatbed trailer before heading over to my town’s brush dump.
Having some durable and waterproof gloves for working in the yard or garden is not a necessity, but can make a yucky job a little less yucky.
These are especially nice to have if you don’t have a pickup rake or leaf claws and need to use your hands to pick up bunches of leaves to put into a yard waste bag.
Well worth the money, nice to have.
Clearing your gutters is a tedious job. But for most homeowners, it’s part of your annual maintenance. And it’s a good idea to clean your gutters after the leaves come down in the fall.
A gutter-cleaning robot like this one from iRobot may sound weird (or dangerous, depending upon how much sci-fi you watch). But this little device makes the task far easier, and some people may find it worth the money.
While you’ll still need to get up on a ladder to put the robot into your gutter, but from there it will sweep along the length of the gutter and do the job for you.
You’ll need to reposition the robot into each section of the gutter as it will only move in a straight line, but for those who feel unsteady on ladders or just want to streamline this annual chore, a gutter cleaning robot will do the job.
Having a playset of garden tools, like a rake, gloves, and maybe a wheelbarrow, can get little ones excited to help you outside.
Not only will this get them used to helping with the yardwork (you’ll thank me later), but it will make lasting memories you’ll treasure, and can make an annual chore feel more fun.
Many of us need to keep an eye on kids while working around the home and in the yard, so kids tools are nice to have as a way to keep them occupied and busy.
Even if your littles don’t pull their weight collecting leaves, I find buying leaf clean up tools for kids to be money well spent.
You Don’t Need Fancy Leaf Clean Up Tools
Leaf clean up tools do make life easier when it’s time to get the leaves up and off the grass, but the reality is that you don’t need to invest a ton of money.
Early on when I didn’t have much money, the best tool I had in my arsenal to get my yard cleaned up in the fall was my friends.
For a long time I organized a weekend every fall when a group of friends and I worked together all day on Saturday to clean up all of our yards in a day, then went out for dinner and drinks.
The next day we went around to some of our senior neighbors, and cleaned up their yards for them, free of charge.
It turned into a fun annual event for us, and it was a nice way to have fun with an otherwise cumbersome chore.