The traditional gathering up of fall leaves is a gardening ritual that some of us love and some of us hate. No matter which camp you’re in, these tips will make the job easier:

  • Use a plastic snow shovel to push leaves into piles. The shovel will slide smoothly over the grass, and it’s easier on your shoulders than raking.
  • Lay a large, empty cardboard box on its side on the lawn. With your gloved hands, rake the leaves into the box, and then drag the boxed leaves to their destination.
  • Hold a garbage can lid in each hand and clamp clumps of piled-up leaves between them. Transfer the clumps to a yard waste bag, your garden cart, or compost pile.

If you’ve got a compost pile, remember that leaves make great additions. If you shred ‘em into nickel-size bits before tossing them on the heap, it’ll speed up the decomposition process.

And here’s a nifty backyard trick—clean your garden gloves while you’re still wearing them. After you’re done raking, simply lather your gloves up with soap and water, and scrub ‘em together to get rid of the grime. Rinse under running water, strip them off, roll them in a towel, and give ‘em a good squeeze to soak up the water.

If the gloves are leather or suede, lay them flat to dry; if they’re cloth, just clip them to your clothesline. They’ll be stiff as a board when they’re dry, but don’t worry—they’ll soften up as soon as you start digging in to the next round of garden work!

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