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How to Rake Your Leaves, Without Breaking Your Back

leaf falling 1We are just starting to flirt with the crisp, cool days of Fall! Ah! What a welcome relief from the heat of Summer! Because we live in the beautiful Florida Panhandle, we are fortunate enough to enjoy a change of seasons.

At this time of year, an untold number of Americans flock to areas to see the turning or changing color of the leaves. Of course, with the falling leaves comes the annual chore of raking those leaves off of our lawns! There are all sorts of on-line sites, such as, that offer medically-based tips on how to take care of your lawn.

In addition to medical advise, there are, thank goodness, rakes of every style and description that have been created to save our backs from succumbing to the aches and pains, that can be the result of this task! An assortment can be found at any Lowe’s Home Improvement Store or at The Home Depot Store.

Choosing the right equipment to tidy up your personal piece of Real Estate is an important first step. The least intensive way to go about this job is by using a leaf blower. The downside is that this is a noisy exercise may not impress the neighbors, and it is even more likely they won’t be happy when you blow your leaves into their yard or the street! Okay, so this may be a last resort!

A second option may be a lawn sweeper.  It is better for the environment and will still clear away the leaves. A lawn sweeper  is similar to a large lawn mower that sweeps up the leaves and automatically drops them into a hopper. After which, you still need to dump the leaves into a garbage bag or trash can.

This option is quick and the least manually demanding. Unfortunately, lawn sweepers can be quite costly and require a good bit of space to store when not in use.

If you opt for a traditional rake, here are a few things to consider:

Use a wide-headed rake with a long handle – rakes with a wider span gather more leaves with each sweep. Look for a 25 to 30 inch width made of durable plastic or metal. You should look for a handle long enough to be able to allow you to stand basically erect while raking (usually at least 48 inches).leaf raking 1

Consider a pivoting-head rake – The rakes have a head that pivots 270 degrees, allowing for better leverage and less back strain. Here again, the drawback is that these style rakes can be more expensive.

Try a leaf scooping rake – These rakes look like a crab claw and performs both the raking and scooping function. The scooping function can save you time and the energy required to bend over to perform the same task.

An ergonomically-shaped rake, that’s clog free and has a curved handle will help you to use the correct posture for the job at hand. If you don’t have one of these, just remember not to slouch and don’t reach to far away from your feet. You want to remember to move around when raking. This will alleviate undue back strain, too.

Approach leave raking smartly! You may think you will get a “jump on it”, if you head out when the leaves first start falling. But, it is actually better to wait for a fair amount of them to fall, and then plan a “dry” day to head out with the rake. Both of these will allow you to rake less often and less strenuously.

The most effective raking is done with a medium-paced motion that doesn’t get slowed down by long dragging sweeps or too much leaf bulk. Choosing a cooler day, when the wind is calm or lightly blowing is optimum.

Remember to dress the part, too! Wear layers of clothing and gloves to protect yourself from biting insects, spiders or thorns. If the weather or the chore warms up, you can always remove a layer of clothing to make yourself more comfortable.

leaf raking 2For those of you with back concerns, remember not to stuff too many leaves into your garbage bag or can, as this heavy lifting will affect your back negatively. Also, limit the time you spend bending over and when you do bend at the knees.

With a little planning, it is easy to tailor to your needs and keep your lawn leaf-free. Your local hardware store can provide you with the rake, that best suites your price point and individual needs. And with the advent of shopping on-line, a mouse click or two can fulfill this acquisition as well!

Contact your local garbage collection agency, as some don’t even require you to bag your leaves. You just put the piles on the curb for pick-up, thus saving you time and money. Check to see if this is an option in your community.

One final thought. Do get out and enjoy this lovely time of year. It is gone in a heartbeat, and it is something you don’t want to miss!

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