10 essential tools to make yardwork easier this fall
Work smarter, not harder.
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After a summer spent mowing your lawn and tending to your garden, it can be frustrating to watch everything get buried in piles of leaves. But with the right tools, you can make lighter work of your outdoor chores. Here are 10 must-have products that anyone with a yard needs this fall.
1. A rake for moving heavy leaves
If you have falling leaves, you need a rake. Even if you use a leaf blower to clean up 95% of your leaves, you’re still going to get wet leaves stuck in awkward places. A rake can also come in handy to spread a winter mulch of grass clippings, leaves, compost, or manure so it will be ready to plant in the spring. When we tested the best rakes on the market, the Truper Tru Tough 24-inch Leaf Rake came out on top for its lightweight design and comfortable grip.
2. An adjustable rake for tight spaces
For clearing leaves out from under shrubs or next to the downspout, an adjustable telescoping rake is the ticket. This model has steel tines that adjust from 7.5 to 21.75 inches wide, and the handle can be adjusted from 37 to 68 inches long, so you’ll be able to clear out debris from just about anywhere in your yard.
3. A leaf blower that won’t annoy your neighbors
Leaf blowers make lawn and garden clean-up easier—but they’re also noisy, and can damage both your hearing and your relationships with your neighbors. Electric and battery-powered leaf blowers are a little quieter than the gas versions, with a lower-pitched noise that isn’t as irritating as liquid-fuel two-stroke motors. They also don’t have the smell or require the maintenance of gasoline engines.
After testing some of the best leaf blowers on the market, the Worx WG520 came out on top as our best overall pick. Remember to buy a three-prong outdoor extension cord that reaches to the edge of your yard.
4. A shovel to move your leaf piles
Rakes are for raking, not for lifting leaves! Use your rake as a shovel to scoop leaves into a yard waste bag, and you’ll just end up with a broken rake.
To get leaves into a leaf bag, wheelbarrow, or compost pile, use a snow shovel. They’re designed for lifting and scooping heavy, wet snow, and are far sturdier than rakes. Plus, you’ll probably remember where to find it when the first snow comes in a month or two.
When we tested snow shovels, we found the Forest Hill Homeowner Aluminum Scoop Shovel to be a great all-purpose shovel for leaves, snow, dirt, mulch, and anything else you have around.
5. A leaf scoop for getting leaves into yard bags
If you don’t need a snow shovel—or your back isn’t up to shoveling—you can try plastic leaf scoops. They’re big plastic mitts that turn your hands into giant paws for grabbing and carrying leaves. They’re a fun way to move leaves into leaf bags, or throw them at your little brother.
6. A tarp for moving leaves around the yard
The easiest way to move leaves around in your yard is to use a tarp. Put the tarp on the ground and rake your leaves onto it. Fold the tarp’s corners to the middle, grasp the corners, and drag the leaf-filled tarp wherever you want it. You can also use a rolled-up tarp as a funnel to guide leaves into bags.
7. A garden cart for hauling
For more complicated yards where dragging a tarp could damage plants, path lighting, or poorly-positioned garden gnomes, a foldable garden cart is a lightweight alternative for pulling leaves around. When we tested the best wheelbarrows on the market, garden carts couldn't stand up to every single lawn task, but the deep MacSports Classic Mac Wagon proved it would be adept at hauling piles of leaves.
8. Yard waste bags
If your town collects leaves, you’re going to need leaf bags. These 30-gallon yard waste bags are accepted by communities that compost yard waste.
9. Gear for planting spring bulbs
You can plant spring bulbs and garlic up until the time the ground freezes, or until you get tired of digging holes over, and over, and over again. There are a couple of good options to make the process a little less tedious.
If you’re planting five to 20 bulbs, the Fiskars Hori Hori soil knife, with inches and centimeters marked on the blade, will help you dig deep, narrow holes just the right size for planting, and just the right depth for your crocus, daffodils, and tulips.
If you’d rather not spend your gardening day on your hands and knees, the ProPlugger 5-in-1 Lawn Tool and Garden Tool is the tool for you. It’s simply a 32-inch-long pipe with footrests and a handle. Step on it, and it will punch a hole in the ground from 2 to 6 inches deep. Turn it outside down, and the clot of soil pops back out. The ProPlugger only does one thing, but it does it very, very well.
- Get the Fiskars Hori Hori Soil Knife at The Home Depot for $26.98
- Get the ProPlugger 5-in-1 Lawn Tool and Garden Tool at Amazon for $39.95
10. Pruners for fall clean-up
Fall is the time to remove leaves, stems, and branches of plants that are diseased, like peony or lilac stems with powdery mildew, or tomatoes with early blight. To prune deceased and damaged branches in the fall, get a sharp pair of pruning shears, and wipe the blades with a little alcohol between cuts to avoid spreading diseases from plant to plant. After testing 10 of the best pruning shears out there, we found the Fiskars Softgrip Bypass Pruner to be the best value pick as they could make clean cuts through stems branches up to ¾” thick.
Be careful with pruning spring-blooming shrubs, though; it’s easy to prune off all the spring buds in the fall. And leave the leaves on your garden beds to provide free mulch to nourish your plants, prevent early spring weeds, and help pollinators. Butterflies, moths, and native bees lay their eggs on the flower and shrub stems; cut them down, and you’re cutting next year’s butterflies.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.