Useful Tips To Remove Stubborn Fall Leaves From Garden Mulch

It's the view from your kitchen window you've waited for nearly all year: Your towering Japanese maple tree gleaming with Cheetos-colored leaves, turning crispier by the day, peppered with delicate, glassy dew. The visual delight is a stunning representation of why so many homeowners consider autumn the best season of the year. Sadly, like all good things, the vibrant kaleidoscope of colors doesn't last forever, and soon all those breathtakingly beautiful fall leaves will leave you huffing and puffing with exhaustion as you painstakingly remove them from garden mulch. Fortunately, with a little strategic planning, a couple of basic tools, and some creative improvising, clearing out stubborn fall foliage from your mulched landscape beds will be a breeze.

You may be thinking that the fastest and easiest way to remove autumn leaves from mulch is to simply skip mulching in the fall. Avoid this hasty reaction. After all, early fall mulching provides a host of landscaping benefits, including keeping plants' roots and soil warm, retaining ground moisture, and preventing weed growth and soil erosion. Still, systematically removing an entire tree's worth of leaves from a bed of shredded bark when you could be watching football does not make for an ideal weekend. It's the reason timing is essential. Don't procrastinate and allow multiple layers of leaves to pile up as the task becomes more demanding. Add to that rain or snow and you've got a soggy pile of dead leaves that could potentially grow mold and damage your plants.

Maximize your time and yard tools

The simplest and cheapest way to extract fall leaves from garden mulch is with your hands. Grab some gloves and a kneeling pad and get to picking. While it may seem tedious, this technique is especially efficient if you're plucking fallen foliage from cramped spaces and tight corners. Depending on the size of your plant bed, you could use a hand rake to assist. Otherwise, stick with a narrow shrub rake and drag gently to avoid disturbing existing plants. The job is easy enough for kids to complete, so consider making leaf removal a family project. Not only will it reduce clean-up time, but you can have fun in the process by making a game of it. Grab a watch and see which child can pick up the most leaves in the least amount of time.

If time is an issue, pull out your leaf blower. However, keep the setting on low and angle it so air is forced over the mulch and not directly on it. If you're still worried using a blower will blast wood chips in every direction, cover the mulched area with landscaping fabric or window screen mesh held in place with rocks to create a barrier. Doing so will allow you to use your blower to remove fallen leaves from the material without disrupting the mulch underneath. This process works best when the leaves are dry, so look at the weather forecast in advance to avoid rain and strong winds.