When fall settles in, I can look out my back window to see leaves descending like snow into my backyard. Here’s the thing: I dread raking them. Raking leaves, for whatever reason, is an infuriating activity for me. Perhaps it’s because the leaves that fall in my yard are so small and so plentiful that it makes the task incredibly difficult.

Are you wondering how to rake leaves fast this fall? Me, too. Anything I can do to shorten the task and make things easy would be a huge benefit.

I got fed up last fall and decided I needed a new approach for raking leaves fast. It definitely helped. I was pleased, and my yard was healthier and happier for it. I broke my approach down into 5 tips, which you can see below.

Why rake leaves in the first place? They aren’t hurting anyone, right? Well, there are 2 reasons why raking leaves is a must. First, leaves can make your yard look messy, which in turn makes your home look less attractive. No one wants that, right. And, second, leaves will destroy your lawn. They block sunlight and prevent water from evaporating, and dead leaves that go without raking will choke out your lawn when spring rolls around. You can certainly leave your leaves, but it’s going to kill your lawn.


1. Get the Right Tools

So many home improvement projects meet success or failure based on the quality of tools you choose to use. If you snag the old rake that’s been lingering in your shed for a decade, don’t expect to get great results. But, if raking leaves is a pain point for you, invest in a nice rake that helps you get the job done faster. It’s not that expensive, I promise.

What should you look for in a rake? Make sure that it’s lightweight but sturdy and durable. The claws at the end of your rake are officially known as “tines,” which I learned while looking for the best rake on the market. Find a rake with plastic tines. Metal will tear up your yard and be too heavy to use with ease. You want your plastic tines to be just flexible enough that they don’t tear up your yard but just stiff enough that they snag a ton of leaves with each pass.

And make sure your rake features a premium grip. An ergonomically designed handle that feels good when you hold it.

Other tools you might need include gloves (blisters can hurt your raking efforts) and a mask, depending on what type of allergens and other particles you kick up while raking.

And, finally, get a large tarp. Here’s a secret to the fast raking of leaves: Raking them onto a large tarp saves TONS of time. Don’t just rake leaves into piles, pick them up, dump them into lawn bags and drag them to the curb. Rather, rake onto a tarp where you can then pick up the corners and haul the leaves wherever they need to go. It’s a game-changer.


2. Stay on Top of Things

You want to know how to rake leaves fast? It’s important that you stay on top of things. Most homeowners no longer need to mow when leaves are falling. The weather that makes your grass stop growing is the same weather that makes the leaves fall.

So trade in the time of the week you once spent mowing for a little bit of time raking. If you mow on Saturday mornings, start raking on Saturday mornings. Just 10–15 minutes of rake time will make a huge difference.

Here’s my rule of thumb: I quit raking leaves when I get tired. Raking is hard work. At the beginning of fall, I’ll spend just 10-minute bursts of time raking. But, funny enough, I get into better raking shape as the fall moves forward. Those 10-minute bursts become 15 minutes, then 20 minutes, then half an hour. And, soon enough, I can rake leaves quickly without too much effort.


3. Use a Mower (With a Bag)

A lot of homeowners choose to just mulch their leaves, but I’ve had a bad experience with that. See, I get tons of leaves in my backyard, which means that mulching just creates a thick layer of leaf debris — which then chokes out and kills my grass in the spring.

Instead of mulching leaves, I’ll do a pass with a mower and bag them. This prevents the debris from collecting on top of my yard. I rake first to get the big chunks of leaves onto a tarp, then a quick pass with the mower (always bagging) gets the rest of them). At the end of the fall when there’s nothing but the tiniest of leaves left, I might consider mulching just to get the rest.


4. Go With the Flow

Use nature’s help. If you have hills or slopes in your yard, always rake downhill, which can be a huge boost to your efforts. And always rake in the same direction the wind is blowing. There’s nothing more infuriating than spending time raking to see the wind dismantle your efforts in one gust.

Also, if you’re raking into piles, stomp on those piles every once in a while. Stomping on them will make them less susceptible to blowing away when a gust of autumn wind blows through.


5. Never When it’s Wet

This one’s simple: If your yard is wet at all, it’s not worth raking. I’ve tried to rake damp, wet leaves, and I’ll never do it again. It’s messy. It’s ineffective. And your time is better spent elsewhere. If you’re looking to find time to rake leaves, make sure it’s at the end of a dry spell.

I know this is tough in some parts of the country where fall is rainy season. And, hey, I know your pain: September and October are the rainiest months in my part of the country. But there are always 3- or 4-day windows without precipitation. Use those windows to get in just 10 or 15 minutes of raking — enough to stay on top of things.


Final Thoughts on How to Rake Leaves Fast

If you do nothing else with leaves, make sure to get the right equipment and to stay on top of things. Having the right stuff and hitting the yard regularly are the first steps toward learning how to rake leaves fast.

And remember that your yard will thank you for it by coming back stronger and greener in the spring. Raking leaves isn’t busy work meant to engage homeowners when there’s no grass to mow. Rather, it’s an important fall ritual that promotes the health of your lawn.

Do you have other ideas for how to rake leaves fast? If so, let us know through our contact page, or simply use the comments section below.