A Quick Guide to Fall Leaf Removal

Autumn is a beautiful season, especially in the Northern Virginia area. We love it for its temperate climate and beautiful foliage. Late fall is also a crucial time for lawn care. You should already be familiar with the benefits of overseeding and aeration. Equally important to your lawn’s appearance, though, is leaf removal. As wonderful as Autumn is, removing the fallen leaves from your lawn in the late fall is not generally regarded as a fun task. It’s time consuming and a bit tedious. It is crucial, however, for a beautiful lawn, according to our Vienna lawn care partners.

Why Leaf Removal Is Important

Leaf removal is important for aesthetic as well as agronomic reasons. Although turf grass growth slows as the temperature drops, photosynthesis continues. The energy from this process is stored to be used the following spring. With leaves resting on your lawn, however, this process is inhibited. Basically, the leaves act as shade, blocking light that would be used in the photosynthesis process. Properly timed leaf removal will allow your lawn to breathe and to be well nourished.

Leaf Removal Quick Tips

  • No matter how you do it, you should remove at least two times each fall. Though, experts say you should remove leaves every 7-10 days.
  • “Begin leaf removal after 25 to 30 percent of the leaves have fallen,” Steve Murray from the Ground Guys. “Do not wait until leaves have started to decompose and become matted.”
  • Raking is tough. If you choose to rake manually, ease your workload a bit and get an extra-wide rake with thin and extending prongs. Don’t twist or bend your back in awkward ways, because injuries are the opposite of fun.
  • Leaf blowers are expensive, but they’re actually fun to use (see: Spongebob). Unleash your inner environmentalist by buying an electric leaf blower instead of a gas powered one. Use your leaf blower for the majority of dry leaves; use a rake for the tougher wet leaves.
  • “Raking or vacuuming and blowing leaves onto tarps for easier removal can be effective,” according to Murray. “Using a lawn mower to bag the leaves and transfer to an eco-friendly bag is recommended.”
  • If it’s early Autumn, you might not need to remove the leaves. Many of our contractors recommend mulching. Run your mower over the lawn, and let the leaves stay on the ground.
  • A great way to recycle your leaves is to use them to make compost. Pile ’em up and mix in grass clippings to aid in decomposition. In a couple months, you’ll have compost.

Tools for Leaf Removal

  • A rake (about $10-$20). This is the classic image of leaf removal, sturdy and reliable. However, this entails more hard work on your part, so you’re going to want to bribe and cajole the family to help out!
  • A leaf tarp (about $20-$30). Instead of many smaller bags, use a leaf tarp to make clean up more efficient.
  • A leaf blower (about $200-$300). Leaf blowers are fun and efficient, but they cost a lot more than a rake, and gas powered blowers are bad for the environment (and costlier) as well as noisy. Solution? Go electric.
  • A yard vacuum (about $400-$700). A yard vacuum will vacuum, shred, and bag leaves, making leaves and yard debris decompose easily in your compost pile.

Should You Hire A Lawn Care Company for Leaf Removal?

It depends. Do you enjoy spending copious amounts of time in the fall developing blisters and a sore back? If not, you might want to think about hiring someone to do it. Though sweating it out on your own, or making your kids do it (perfectly acceptable), will save you money, paying a professional will save you time. It will also save your back, and you can rest assured that they’ll do a great job. Lawn care companies also have the ability to purchase more expensive and more efficient tools such as a yard vacuum. Because of their scale, this purchase is justified and will ensure a quick and professional service. In the end, it’s up to you. Some people enjoy seeing the fruits of their own labor. Some people see value in time saved and in professional quality.

If the latter sounds like you, LawnStarter offers leaf removal services in select areas in Northern Virginia and Washington D.C., as well as in Austin/Round Rock in Texas. Give us a call!


Alex Birkett

Alex Birkett is marketer and writer. Aside from mowing lawns, he loves snowboarding, eating sushi, and lifting heavy weights. He moved to Austin, TX after graduating from the University of Wisconsin.