Finally, fall has come. Across much of the country, sweltering summer days are giving way to chilly mornings and long sleeves.

As a kid, I dreaded the arrival of fall, or more accurately, the arrival of leaf-raking season. Although our yard covered less than half an acre, it was populated by nearly a dozen sizeable trees, and still more dotted the adjoining properties. Needless to say, I hoped for as few windy days as possible

Armed with only a rake, some gloves, and a few (OK, a couple dozen) garbage bags, I resigned myself to my fate.

Once trees began shedding their leaves, it becomes a war of attrition; I was raking, bagging, and hauling away leaves on a near-weekly basis for several months of the year. The full canopy of leaves that once provided blissful shade from the sun’s rays now rain down, turned into endless ammunition in a months-long assault.

For homeowners that are tired of doing battle, there are some alternatives that can reduce or eliminate the need to rake leaves each fall.

1. Hire Someone

kid playing in leaf pile

The most obvious way to get out of doing something you don’t want to do is to get someone else to do it for you. Hiring a professional lawn care company is one way that homeowners can avoid the tedious and potentially injurious work of dealing with leaves each fall. Many companies that provide lawn maintenance services offer leaf removal in addition to services like mowing and mulching.

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Hiring entrepreneurial neighborhood kids is an economical alternative to calling in professionals. It helps build a sense of community, and let’s face it, most teenagers are always looking for a way to make some extra spending cash.

2. Timber! Remove Your Trees

For homeowners seeking a more permanent solution, there is the possibility of removing some or all of the trees from your property.

While this will certainly reduce the amount of leaves you have to deal with, it’s not guaranteed to completely solve the problem. Since leaves drift easily on the wind, the amount of trees near your property need to be taken into account. If the adjoining properties resemble a small forest, cutting down your trees probably won’t do much good.

The other drawback to tree removal is that it can get very expensive very quickly. The larger and more numerous the trees, the higher the cost of removal. This option should be considered when there are few trees and they are relatively small.

3. Replace Your Trees with Evergreens

Although fall leaves can feel like somewhat of a plague, trees still offer numerous benefits to homeowners. For instance, anyone living in the South can attest to the absolute necessity of having shade trees to deal with the summer heat.

Instead of removing trees from your yard altogether, another option is to replace them with evergreen trees. Evergreen trees retain foliage year-round; some still lose a portion of their leaves, but others keep nearly all their leaves throughout the fall and winter.

4. Use a Leaf Blower

homeowner using a leaf blower

Removing or replacing your trees can be an expensive proposition, but there’s yet another alternative that’s actually a blast and in more ways than one (for kids, at least). Using a leaf blower to corral your leaves is a great way to cut down on the effort and potential back pain that can go along with raking leaves. If you have kids, they’ll probably jump at the chance to run around blasting leaves. Just be sure to show them how to safely operate the device.

Once you’ve blown the leaves into a pile, you’ll still have to decide what to do with them. Fortunately, there are a few ways that leaves can be put to good use in and around your yard.

5. Leave Them on the Ground

One final—and perhaps more practical—alternative is to simply let your leaves stay on your lawn. In addition to supplying additional nutrients to your soil (similar to fertilizer), a layer of leaves can inhibit weed growth. In order to ensure that the leaves don’t smother your lawn, you should shred them by running your lawn mower over them.

While, yes, mowing your leaves does require some effort, it pales in comparison to the effort required to rake, bag, and haul away those same leaves.

The Bottom Line

While fall leaves aren’t going anywhere soon, there are ways to ease the burden. The most appropriate approach will vary depending on your yard and physical ability to actually deal with leaves. For most people, tree removal or replacement won’t be the best option, but hiring someone else to take care of them or recycling them in your yard are great alternatives.

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