Before grabbing any ol' rake and heading outdoors, make a plan

Falling leaves are inevitable this time of year. Raking them is either perceived as a tedious task or an opportunity for fall fun and fresh air.

Before grabbing any ol’ rake and heading outdoors, make a plan, proposes Family Handyman magazine in “14 Tips for Dealing with Leaves Like a Pro”:

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— Buy a big, sturdy, no-clog rake.
— Rake leaves onto a tarp to drag to a dump site.
— Mow leftover leaves so the tiny pieces decompose into natural fertilizer.
— Use a leaf blower (on dry leaves). Blowers with a vacuum feature will suck into a bag leaves stuck in shrubbery and flower beds, for example. Make sure the extension cord is long enough on an electric blower to reach all areas of a yard.

Popular Mechanics’ two cents focuses on the right rake. A standard leaf rake head size ranges from 22 to 30 inches. Some rakes have cushioned handles. A fiberglass handle is stronger than a wooden handle, while steel rake heads tend to move wet leaves better than do poly-made ones. in September suggested another school of thought: leave some leaves: “In recent years, the environmental impacts of raking have become increasingly well-known. In the U.S., a heaping 33 million tons of yard debris is disposed of per year, totaling more than 13 percent of the nation’s solid waste.” Rake leaves off the lawn (or mow leaves into the lawn), but instead of depositing them on the curb, sow them in garden and woodsy spots to become worm food, which is then converted into rich compost.

Other general rake tips: rake with the wind, rake downhill if possible, wear gloves, rest the back and pay attention to elbow strain. For big jobs, tackle a yard in sections.