Catherine is a homemaker, gardener, and writer who writes about home improvement, gardening, and science. Her day job is as a lab tech.
For me, the work of rediscovering our curb appeal is an annual one, and the work begins in the fall when the massive oak tree in the front lawn begins dropping its leaves and never stops until the middle of winter.
With such a huge tree, there are two approaches to take. The first is to do multiple rakings every two or three weeks. The second approach is to wait until the tree has dropped the bulk of its leaves and then rake in one fell swoop. I have used both approaches and hands down, multiple rakings is in the long run easier.
Hard work for sure but the end result is that you restore the charm of your home by rediscovering your curb appeal.
Tools and Equipment You'll Need
- yard bags
- pruning shears
- a wheel barrow
- lawn mower
- safety glasses
How to Get Curb Appeal
Once you have assembled all your tools and yard bags, all you really need is persistence and determination. It's understandable if you struggle with getting started. I do too. The piles of leaves are usually so high that it seems I shall never make a dent.
As with anything, the trick is to just get started. In our yard, the leaves pile up on the Southwest corner of the house where there is a retaining wall. This winter was particularly windy, so even though we did rake and mow the leaves in the fall, the front yard still looked like this at the end of spring.
Leaves, Leaves, Leaves. Leaves Everywhere!
Once started, the only way to dig out your curb appeal is through hard work. Over the course of the fall and winter, the leaves are not selective in where they accumulate. As a result not only does the yard end up full of leaves but so do the flower beds that are next to the house and along the retaining wall.
As spring starts, here come the weeds and they are especially indiscriminate in where they grow .
Mowing vs. Raking
With all these massive piles of leaves, what's the best option--mowing or raking?
In the past, I always raked, Mowed leaves always seemed to leave too much debris and was easily tracked into the house. However, in recent years, I have come around to the benefits of mowing or mulching leaves vs raking.
Are there downsides? There sure are. As expected, the mowed leaves do create a lot of flying debris on windy days and the small pieces of leaves are easily tracked into the house which means more sweeping the entrance and vacuuming the carpet.
But as in many other things in life, you weigh the pros and cons of something and make a decision. I liked the idea of using the mulched leaves to enrich the soil as well as providing a place for winter birds and critters to get food and water. And ultimately, it was easier than raking and I am excited to see how the enriched soil improves my yard.
Should You Mow or Rake Your Lawn?
Mowing is a time saver. Definitely takes less time than raking
Takes more time and is harder to do
Less yard bags needed
Requires more yard bags depending on the amount of leaves. I have used more than 3 dz bags in the past
The leaves are mulched. You still need to dispose of the brush
Have to figure out a way to dispose of the yard bags. Most cities provide a brush and leaf pick up twice a year
Mulched leaves act as organic mulch
Another method required to fertilize/ enrich your soil
Will It Ever Get Done?
The simple answer is an enthusiastic yes. Section by section. Once you have pooled all the leaves. The piles will truly be humongous. You might want to spread out the piles a little. For me, failure to do so resulted in a broken lawnmower. Luckily we had a backup lawnmower while the first one was in the repair shop.
Having a way to track your progress is a good way to keep your motivation up. I do this by taking before, after and during photos. These photos help me keep perspective and focus on what I have accomplished while pushing on with the work. I will use progress photos of one of the flower beds that border the house
How to Clean Your Yard, in a Nutshell
So the entire process in a nutshell is:
- Rake leaves into piles
- Mow the leaves
- Rake leaves from flower beds.
- Pool leaves into piles
- Use smaller rakes to remove leaves from flower beds
- Move leaves from flower beds into piles for mowing
- Weed your flower beds. A weed cloth can be used to prevent weed growth.
- Mulch the flower beds
- Add flowering plants and hanging pots to your porch
- Sit back and enjoy your work.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.