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The location is wooded Georgia suburbs on roughly an acre with lots of oak and a smattering of pine trees. There isn't much yard; a couple hundred square feet of grass with leaves three to six inches deep. And there's a 300 foot driveway I've been leaf blowing and accumulating the leaves off to the sides. One to two feet of paved surface has been reclaimed on each side of the driveway from years of damp leaves gathering.

The landlord said I can put the leaves in a depression near the driveway. Its volume is such that a full dump truck of material might not fill it.

My questions are:
1) What techniques work to move lots of large leaves 100 feet? Right now, I begin work near the pit and move 3 or 4 feet at a time with the leaf blower.

2) Is it safe to leave a dump-truck sized pile of leaves in "the pit"?

3) Any concerns or life-experience observations about dealing with the 2 to 4 inches of rotting leaves I am removing from the driveway edges?


Update:
Answer chosen based on direct applicability; I'm trying to preserve the existing grass and keep the people areas tidy. Even with the mountain of leaves I'm moving there is 10x more leaves several inches deep covering the rest of the wooded area on the property.

Leaves in the yard

The pic shows me about 1/5 done. I laid a bar on the edge of the tarp to help loading it. The bar is from a weight lifting set and holds the edge of tarp in place while I used the broom to push leaves in. Then I'd use the leaf blower to sweep the rest of the leaves in.

Once the top layers of leaves were removed, I was using the leaf blower more like a hair dryer. Note in foreground the brick. The leaves are 2x to 3x the height of bricks used to line the yard. The "pit" is 80 or 90 feet from where the pic was taken and is now practically full. The roughly 10,000 sq ft area of the lawn took about 6 hours to clear. The leaves surely were there for more than 1 season, as the bottom layer was starting to decay and was clinging mightily to the earth.

  • I also wonder if there's anything you could add to the pit to make the decomposition process work better... – JPhi1618 Nov 13 '15 at 16:41
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    Rotting leaves helps create soil. Out here in CA, water (and hence grass) is in short supply. Blowing the leaves away also takes away the dry soil. You can actually see the yard lose height over time. I now blow my leaves onto these bare areas to a) act as ground cover b) stop losing soil c) start recovering it. – JS. Nov 13 '15 at 16:52
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    You can rake them onto a large plastic tarp, then drag the tarp over to the pit. – Johnny Nov 13 '15 at 18:26
  • Big piles of leaves like that are great for worms also , when we want to go fishing we just flip the layers of leaves and tons of worms can be found very quickly, my son collects them several times a year and sells them to the bait shop he gets 2.00 per dozen some times more if the owner is out and calls – Ed Beal Nov 13 '15 at 19:47
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I have a similar situation where I live. I don't have a large lawn and I have many 60+ foot tall trees surrounding my house. I found there to be two suitable options for leaf removal (based on my personal experience).

  1. A leaf blower and rake are your best friend (not to mention having friends with rakes as well). I use the leaf blower for sidewalks and areas on my driveway with minimal leafs. The leaf blower becomes less efficient once they become more piled up. At this point, I use a wide shop broom to push the piles where I want them to go.

    As for the lawn, I found that using a rake is the fastest and most efficient method of leaf removal (albeit more physical effort than, say, holding a leaf blower). I typically just rake the leaves into the wood-line and let them decompose over winter on their own.

  2. If you don't want to have leaves bordering your wood-line, A nice and easy method for removing the leaves to a different location would be to get a large tarp and blow/rake the leaves onto that. Once the tarp is full of leaves, you can just pull the tarp to a new location such as a pit or trailer.

  • I selected this answer as it is exactly what I'll end up doing. The other answers are great, but not so directly applicable. Thanks! – Chris K Nov 16 '15 at 18:32
  • First, I'm in the same boat with old maples in WI (SO MANY LEAVES). Wanted to chime in with leaf blower selection. Leaf blowers are an odd duck because as price increases, generally what you see is an increase in mobility (cordless: battery/backpack) coupled with an actual sacrifice of CFM. The $80-$120 models of Toro and Worx will get you the most CFM, coupled with some (fair) mulching capabilities. The difference is these will be corded electric models, but that's nothing a 100' 12-gauge extension cord doesn't fix. Don't skimp on the 12-gauge cord - I learned that lesson the hard way. – Paul Nardini Nov 27 '15 at 20:43
  • I see you have a Toro in the pic, but it looks like a battery powered, so you may be working with half the blowing power you could get from a corded. If movement of medium sized piles is a problem, try a corded. You can always return it if the difference doesn't do it for you. – Paul Nardini Nov 27 '15 at 20:44
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I have a very similar yard as yours. I too went through this process my first few years living at the house. Paid for people to haul leaves away and such. After a few more years of honing the process it is really simple.

  1. Identify good areas for leaves to end up. For me it is depressions near the driveway, the street, and right next to the large trees.

  2. Rake leaves out of hard to reach places or rake to the point that it makes doing step 3 easier.

  3. Start away from your target areas. Mulch your leaves and spit them out towards your target areas. You will have to inch your way with the lawnmower to the target areas back and forth. Yes you will leave deposits in your yard but unless you are leaving huge amounts these will only enhance your grassy areas. (For some parts of the yard you may need to rake leaves to grass or to driveway - yes I mow my driveway!)

  4. Use blower to better disperse clippings. An example here is 50% of my front yard clippings go to street. The first 8-10 feet of yard near the street obviously contain more clippings on them. I use the blower to get them to the street. Then when in the street I use the blower to disperse the clippings. On day one I might have a 1 foot mound of clippings near my edge. After a few days of blowing a little of the clippings at a time... clippings gone, happy neighbors. The blower breaks apart the clippings piles.

Any plan to not mulch the leaves is futile in my opinion. My way is raking maybe for 2-3 hours twice a year, lawnmower 5-6 times times an hour, and blower 5-6 times times 20 mins. I was spending 10x that my first few years trying to move leaves or bag leaves or send them to a compost. Even putting them on a tarp and burning them took forever.

  • Basically my solution for first steps, but I either mulch in place or dump mower bag into larger containers (old trash cans) which are then dumped into the compost pile. More often the latter, as I'm trying to vacuum up the worst of the horse-chestnuts.. – keshlam Nov 13 '15 at 23:06
  • @keshlam - You must not have the amount of trees like the OP and myself. Given my number of trees my grass will never be perfect so no sense in being that anal about clippings left over. I would certainly do what you do if I had a chance at great grass. Now I did not do step 4 until a few years ago and it led to bad grass the next year and dirty looks from neighbors about my clippings mound on the street.... oooops. – DMoore Nov 13 '15 at 23:08
  • Most of the leaves in my yard come from that huge horse-chestnut, which has shaded out other trees. There are a few around the edges but they don't contribute much. No, I'll never have a great lawn, and I'm not trying to -- as I say, I'd have to start by combing all the chestnut husks out of it -- but using the mower as a vacuum and composting is the least-work solution I've found given that I hate blowers. – keshlam Nov 13 '15 at 23:20
  • There is so little actual grass we use a push mower with the spinning blades. Definitely not going to bother creating mulch. BTW, raking 2 feet of leaves by edge of driveway made a >1' berm of leaves. – Chris K Nov 14 '15 at 22:41
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A modern approach is to do nothing:

Don't rake your leaves, scientists say (Warning: autoplay video).

The National Wildlife Federation is encouraging people to leave the leaves. On its website, the NWF says dry, dead leaves are important habitats for all kinds of critters, reports KING. Butterflies, salamanders, chipmunks, box turtles, toads, shrews, earthworms, and other creatures live, lay eggs in or eat from leaves, according to NWF's plea with the public to let the leaves stay where gravity left them.

One big benefit is you won't end up annoying your neighbors with the leaf blower.

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    The leaves are also good for ticks. If you have pets, or yourself spend time in the area, leaving leaf cover may not be good. – Edwin Nov 13 '15 at 23:56
  • Any area I would do this I would have no grass in the spring and my kids would be rolling around in mud. I was in the hospital one fall and spent about $1000 on reseeding my front lawn in the spring. This is probably a good solution for some people but not everyone. – DMoore Nov 14 '15 at 6:01
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In the past I have moved a very large volume of leaves to the edge of a property. We were able to significantly shorten the amount of work required by raking the leaves onto a giant tarp. Once the tarp could hold no more leaves we would drag the tarp to the location we wanted to dump them. Although the piles looked very large they weighed very little and two people could easily move them.

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In my experience...

  1. There's no good way to move a large volume of leaves. If your leaf blower is working stick to it. If you have a friend with some spare time buy them a case of beer to come help you :)
  2. There's nothing inherently wrong with it. They may smell some as they rot but they're not going to do anything seriously dangerious (burst into flame, etc.)
  3. Rotting leaves can be incredibly slippery. Even if the top layer isn't rotting layers below may be and you can still slip on them. It's not a huge risk but I've definitely wiped out before from walking on rotten leaves.
  • Oh yeah. The damp leaves on the sloped driveway engaged the ABS and traction control in the car with slightest of provocation. – Chris K Nov 24 '15 at 2:36
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I won't beat around the bush !

The best thing to use for moving leaves is a descent pressure washer.

Sure it takes a little bit more to set up, sure it is not as mind-numbing as a leaf blower, but guaranteed to move 3x as much, 3x as far, and 3x faster while leaving driveways, gutters, mailboxes, carports, decking, sidewalks, street drains, all squeaky clean. End Of Story!

Unfortunately, a decent pressure washer may run you between $400-$600. However, it is worthwhile investment with many, many labor saving uses.

What to do with those leaves?

I live within a city that picks up the leaves for the city residents. But for those who don't have that luxury maybe designate a spot on the property line less visible to the street.

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