Expert tips to save your lawn (and your back).

By Brandi Broxson

Ah, fall leaves. Gorgeous as they may be to look at, the chore of removing them from your lawn might be one you don’t look forward to. Luckily, there are some expert tips to guide you.

To start, mow first before you rake, says Barbara Pleasant, author of The Complete Compost Gardening Guide. “It is easier to rake a mowed lawn because it’s smooth, but late-season mowing should be high, so the grass plants stay leafy and tight as a defense against weeds,” she says. Also helpful—crunched leaves are less likely to fly away than whole ones, making the job easier.

No mower? You can also stomp through areas with a large amount of leaves to reduce their volume and make it easier to rake.

Then grab a lightweight 19-inch metal rake and pull leaves toward you, using small motions. This method reduces dust and can help prevent fatigue, says Pleasant. Rake leaves into a windrow—a pile shaped like a line—and then onto a tarp or old sheet for transport. Raking leaves onto a tarp also keeps the movement of the leaves down low, which reduces exposure to dust and other allergens in fallen leaves, says Pleasant.

RELATED: Why Leaves Change Color—and Everything Else You Need to Know About Fall Foliage

Once you’re done raking, don’t toss those leaves. “The mixture of grass clippings and chopped leaves is precious stuff to use as mulch, because the long strands of grass ‘knit’ with the leaves to create a rich mulch that stays put.” Use the mulched leaves to insulate garden beds for winter.

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