Tips For Raking Leaves This Fall Without Hurting Your Back

The trees are starting to turn to browns, reds, and yellows and the rakes are waiting in the garage, but my back never looks forward to this task. Raking can be quite harsh on our bodies because we use many muscles that usually don't get used. You can do several things to help prevent injuries.

The first thing you should do is stretch before you begin your work. Next think about working smarter and not harder. There are several tools you can use to make the job much easier. The easiest method I have found is a mulching lawn mower. While your grass is still growing and the leaves aren't too thick, a mulching mower will chop up the leaves into small pieces that will decay over the winter and provide a good source of nourishment for your lawn. If you have a bagging mower you can use it to remove the leaves once they are too thick to mulch. I usually don't like to run the mower over the lawn once it has stopped growing as the mower tends to damage the grass, making my beautiful spring lawn take longer to show.

Once the leaves are thick enough to rake, I like to work with an electric leaf blower first. I thought about getting a gas powered one years ago, but I dislike how un-environmentally friendly they are and the noise they make. Leave blowers work best in wide open areas on dry leaves. Blow the leaves onto a large sheet which you can easily drag to the street, if you town has leave pickup, or put them into your compost pile. Don't overload the sheet, or you will risk a bigger cleanup when you move it. If you have to travel a long way, two people can pick up the sheet and place it into a wheel barrel.

For the leafs in areas where a leaf blower is inefficient there is the old fashion rake. There are many new styles you can use that don't clog and are more ergonomic. The $20 investment may be worth it. Once you start using your rake, be sure not to bend too much as you rake. Move more with you feet using small short stokes toward your body. Be sure to change your grip on the rack often to prevent using the same muscles too much. This will also help with blisters, or you could just wear gloves. Again rake the leaves onto a sheet for easy transport.

Using the right tool for the job goes a long way. Between my lawn mower, electric leaf blower, and my hand rake the leafs don't stand a chance. If you have a bad back like I do, just remember to stretch and go at it with the best tool for the job. If all else fails, check what the neighborhood kids are doing.
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