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Latest In Leaf-Raking, Gathering Aids

The annual autumn ritual of leaf-gathering is upon us, and most of us look for ways to get it done with the least effort possible.

The Early Show's resident home improvement expert, Danny Lipford, says there are many tools on the market that could help.

"As a kid," he says, "I remember how much fun it was to run and jump into a big pile of freshly-raked leaves. Of course, the real fun was that someone else raked them, not me. If I ever had to rake leaves, it was either because I was being punished, or it was one of those chores that you hated to do.

"Back then, the only options for raking were flimsy metal rakes that always got leaves stuck in them and had to be cleaned off every three or four passes, and, of course, you got blisters from using those old metal rakes with wooden handles.

"The good news is that we've come a long way since then, and there are several ways to make the chore of raking a more pleasant experience.

Lipford gave details on the show Thursday:

No Strain, No Pain

If you have one of those old-fashioned wooden rakes, do your whole family a favor: Throw them away! There are some great innovations available. One of the most user-friendly is the ergonomically designed rake. Several styles are available.

Slapshot Rake

Slapshot Lawn Tools

This unique style was designed using a hockey stick as the model. The angle of the handle in relation to the rake head makes raking the leaves a quicker process, because it enables you to clear three times as much ground as a traditional rake. This also has a square handle, as opposed to the traditional round handle, to help reduce the stress. However, it would still be a good idea to use lawn gloves when using this rake. The cost is nominal, too, at only $14.95. You can also purchase a smaller version to help get the kids involved.

An ergonomically-designed rake can be a big advantage if you suffer from back problems. The curved design of these rakes helps provide a more comfortable stance when raking. Typically, these are made from a tubular steel that has a foam cushion to eliminate the need for gloves. Many of the area home centers will carry these for around $20.

Garden Brand Pivoting Head Rake

Home Depot

This rake costs a little more, but has a unique feature. This is a pivoting head rake that enables you to move the head 270 degrees to provide more leverage, which can be custom fit to your frame. If you rotate it the full 270 degrees, you can use it to push larger piles of leaves instead of pulling. This also has a tubular handle with foam grips to make it easier on your hands. It costs about $30-$35 for this style.

The More, The Merrier

Obviously, if you can gather more leaves in less time, that's a good thing. Once the leaves have been raked into a pile, you may need to move them to another location quickly and with minimal effort. Here are some ideas:

Leaf Scoops

Leaf Scoops

This is a really fun item that may be just the thing to get the kids involved. These "hands" are designed to fit practically anyone. They're lightweight and comfortable and enable you to pick up large bundles at a time to distribute to lawn bags and even leaf shredders. They are also affordable, at only $11.95.

Another idea that has been around a long time is something I used to do when I was younger. If you rake up several small piles, then want to move them to another location, you can simply roll out a large piece of six-mil plastic and rake the piles onto it. Because of the material, it slides extremely easily on the ground to transport several piles at once.

Trash Funnel

Choice Products

The most common thing is to get the leaves into a trash bag, so they can be easily moved to the street for pickup. This lightweight aluminum frame is perfect for holding the trash bags open for you. This design enables you to lay the frame down on its side so you can rake the leaves directly into the bag without having to scoop them up. When not in use, the frame will fold flat for easy storage. This particular model costs $49.50.

Ryobi Handheld Blower

Home Depot

I have also noticed that many of the professional lawn services will not even bother raking the leaves. Instead, they use a leaf blower to "air sweep" the leaves into a large pile. Once the leaves are all in one location, this particular model can switch to a leaf vacuum. Simply move a lever and attach a bag and you can vacuum the leaves into the attachment and dump them into trash bags as this fills up. There are many styles available, starting around $59 and going up to about $200. This is really ideal for smaller yards, but if you have a lot of leaves, then you will definitely want to consider getting a leaf shredder. Instead of having to fill 30 bags full of leaves, how would you like to condense all those down to only three bags?

Time to Downsize

Flowtron LE-900 Leaf Mulcher

There are several leaf shredders/mulchers on the market. This particular model can take 11 bags of leaves and reduce them to a single bag of mulch. It only weighs about 17 pounds, so it's easy to move around, and the great thing about this is that you can attach a garbage bag directly to the machine. It's electric, so there's no worry over keeping gasoline around. It costs $120-$180.

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