From leaf blowers to vacuums, we’ve used all kinds of products and technology to tackle this annual chore. Sometimes the best approach is well-designed, simple tools.
Like clockwork, each fall as the first batch of leaves fall, towns and neighborhoods roar awake with the sound of gas-powered leaf blowers.
It’s the annual battle of weekend warriors versus the leaves—and you know what’s at stake: not only is the debris an eyesore and a nuisance, especially if your leaves blow onto your neighbor’s clean lawn, but if you stall, a mantle of snow might cover them and smother the grass. That means more work for you come spring.
The Best Tools to Collect Leaves
Gas leaf blowers, and their far quieter battery-powered cousins, can be handy to direct a pile of leaves. But as fast as they can be, nearly as quickly you can make more work for yourself by launching leaves the wrong way. And there are a few uses for leaves in the garden, for things like mulch.
On a small lawn, you could chop them up into fine bits with a lawnmower and let them decompose in the lawn. But for homeowners who like to bag leaves for disposal, simply piling leaves doesn’t help get them in bags.
When it comes to getting leaves into bags, we’ve found the best way, after you’ve piled them on the lawn or the street with a leaf blower or a trusty rake, is to use a system that makes them easy to get onto a tarp and then into your bag.
The Best Leaf Tarp:
EZ Lawn and Garden 6×4-foot Leaf Hauler Sport
This tarp has some smart features that make it easier to use. Handles along the outer edge make it easy to reposition, but the ones along the narrow edges are perfect for picking up the loaded tarp, folding it over like a taco, and then tipping its contents into a bag or pail. Stiff corners and tent-pole-like rods give it enough structure so filling it is easier.
- The 6×4-foot size holds 24 square feet of leaves, or about four wheelbarrows full
- Folds up for easy storage
- Has a pair of stakes built in to keep the tarp steady on a lawn
- 90-day warranty
- Makes loading leaf bags easier
- Better than a regular tarp when transporting a pile of leaves by dragging it
- Built-in structure prevents leaves from blowing right out of the tarp
- Easy to wash off with a hose
- The 6×4-foot size might be a bit too small on larger properties with several mature deciduous trees
The Best Leaf Chute:
KwicKan 33-55 Gallon Portable Instant Container
This simple piece of bendable plastic makes it much easier to load leaves when working solo. Stick it into a paper or plastic bag, up to 55 gallons, and it will flex open to a “U” shape and hold the bag open plenty wide for you to put in leaves by hand, by shovel, or using a tarp. Works for just about anything you put in a bag, like lawn clippings or trash.
- Made from 0.06-gauge ABS plastic
- Handles on all sides makes it easy to grab
- Smooth corners won’t rip bags.
- 47×28-inch size is easy to store flat against a wall
- No warranty
- Makes cleaning leaves a one-person job or increases the efficiency of everyone’s work if you use two
- Flexible plastic won’t rip bags and is easy to use
- Can be used for opening bags throughout the year
- If you do chip an edge, it can snag bags and cause ripping
The Best Leaf Shovel:
Razor-Back 36-inch D-Handle Aluminum Scoop
A shovel for leaves might sound odd, but if you like to push leaves out into the street before collecting them or have a bunch of wet leaves to pick up, a shovel you can push along the road makes filling bags easier.
The key is to have the bag wide open and a shovel with a head narrow enough to fit inside. This aluminum scoop won’t rust, and while it can also move rocks, soil, granulated lawn amendments, and compost, it makes short work of a pile of leaves.
- The head is #14 size made from rust-proof aluminum
- The D-shaped handle is generously sized and comfortable
- The ribbed 15 1/4-inch-wide pan increases durability without adding weight
- The 58 1/2-inch-long shovel, made with a hardwood shaft and handle, is a comfortable size to use
- Lifetime limited warranty
- Large pan but the shovel is easy and comfortable to use
- Durable design for use all year long
- Makes it easier to collect leaves if you tend to blow or rake them into the street
- The head might make it harder to fill narrower paper leaf bag openings