Raking Safely and Efficiently

November 29th, 2013

Fall is falling all around us, which means you soon may need to bust out the rake and do one last little bit of lawn care before snow season puts its icy grip on your yard.

Raking requires a good deal of repetitive twisting, pulling, bending and lifting that can put stress on your body and lead to injury if you don’t do it carefully, so here are a few tips for making this chore safe and perhaps even a little fun!

  • Use the right tool for the job –  There are a couple of different types of rakes out there. I know it seems silly to say, but make sure you are using one that looks like this, not like this, and definitely not like this. Not only is the first rake light-weight, but it is designed to capture the most leaves at once and may help you avoid potential injury if you forget where you dropped it on the ground like this unfortunate gentleman.
  • Use good technique – Keep the rake between 65-85 degrees off the ground, this will optimize your shoulder and back position and keep you from putting too much stress on either of them. Be sure to switch which side you rake on as well! It will prevent fatigue and reduce risk for injury due to overuse of the muscles on one side of your body.
  • Plan your piles – Make many small piles versus one really big one (killjoy, I know). This will help reduce the distance you have to rake leaves from one side of the lawn to the other, which creates unnecessary work and stress on the body. Raking leaves onto a plastic sheet vs. putting them into a bag can also save you from having to bend over multiple times and will make for easier clean up.
  • Make it a family affair – Many hands make for light work, and raking is no exception. If you have small children encourage them to help by picking up small piles with their hands. If you don’t have willing family members just ask some friends, and remember the old adage – If you beer it, they will come.
  • Use high-powered lawn equipment – It is the 21st century after all… Mulching lawn mowers are a great way to get rid of pesky leaves and feed your lawn (feed it!) at the same time — though I have read that you should avoid this if you have oak or needle bearing trees in your lawn, as their acidic leaves can actually be harmful to your grass. Leaf blowers/vacuums are a good option as well. Set it to vacuum for quick and easy clean up, or switch it to blow to make it someone else’s problem!
  • Hire it out – Place your burden on to the strong backs of America’s youth! For a small fee, I’m sure you can easily find an eager and able-bodied youngster who would be happy to rake your lawn for you.

Other than that, just be sure to warm up before hand, stretch afterwards, and stay hydrated. Happy raking!