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What Happened to the Rake?

November 9th, 2009

I was out raking leaves yesterday and it occurred to me that I haven’t seen anyone using a rake in years. While I whooshed leaves with my rake, all around me I heard that annoying leaf blower sound. I really appreciate the quietness of raking.
It’s interesting to me the extinction of the humble rake. As a child we loved to rake leaves into big piles and play in them. What could be more fun on a beautiful fall day? I still enjoy raking leaves, it’s a great time to think about the changing seasons and be thankful for them. I have used a leaf blower once and I didn’t find it any faster than raking. Not to mention it’s much cheaper, my rake cost me about $10 and it takes no electric and no gas.
The bagging and throwing away of leaves is also something that befuddles me. I don’t really understand why people don’t put them in a pile out back and then use them in the spring instead of buying bags and bags of mulch and fertilizer. It’s kind of funny since we live in a very wooded area and just about every property here has a wooded border somewhere. Why don’t people just blow the leaves into the woods? Why go to all the hassle of bagging them? These are the things I think about while raking.
In my front lawn I do collect the leaves with grass clippings in the mower, and I use these as mulch. If the lawn doesn’t need mowed it gets raked, along with the rest of the property.

What do you prefer, leaf blower or rake? (do you think the leaf blower sound is the most annoying sound in the world as I do?)

31 Comments to “What Happened to the Rake?”
  1. vrtlaricaana on November 9, 2009 at 5:43 am

    I dont use blower – it just doesnt help me. I use rake or if its a larger area than I use tractor lawn mower. I like using rake, its also a nice exercise.
    .-= vrtlaricaana´s last blog ..Monday Macro: every thorn has it’s rose =-.

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  2. Heather on November 9, 2009 at 8:51 am

    I’m definitely a rake kind of girl. I’m also a steal the neighbors leaves for my own compost kind of girl.

    Reply to Heather's comment

    • Susy on November 9, 2009 at 9:12 am

      We steal leaves when we can find them as well.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  3. annie avery on November 9, 2009 at 8:51 am

    ahhhh, raking leaves, piles of autumn colours stacked high and awaiting a young child to jump into its midst! simple joys, yet one of the memories we hold til old age! i use a rake, myself, hate leafblowers. i also love to shovel snow. these old bones do not like the rake rhythm, though and i must relegate the leaf raking to someone else. i think we could do something beneficial with genetic engineering by creating older bodies able to grow a third leg for balance..

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  4. miss m on November 9, 2009 at 8:52 am

    Working in the yard for me is a meditative experience. I love doing yard work and I love raking. I can’t imagine using a leaf blower. I’ve switched from a gaz mower to a reel mower mainly because of the noise. (Although my cheap reel mower isn’t completely quiet and can be a little annoying too). Up with rakes ! They are inexpensive, green and do the job (always have !).

    Reply to miss m's comment

  5. Daphne on November 9, 2009 at 8:57 am

    I use my mower. I want my leaves chopped up for the compost pile, and since I’m going to mow them anyway I might as well use it to pick them up. I do use a rake to get into corners and such.
    .-= Daphne´s last blog ..Harvest Monday – 9 November 2009 =-.

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  6. kristin @ going country on November 9, 2009 at 9:08 am

    I think all the rakes must have ended up at our house. We have a lot.

    Obviously, I rake. Although, since much of my lawn detritus includes black walnut material, it can’t be composted. I use some of the non-black walnut stuff to cover leeks and parsnips in the garden, and the rest of it gets raked into piles on the driveway and burned. Except the front lawn, which is huge and impossible and has to just be mowed to try to make the leaves as small as possible in the hopes they will decompose over the winter. That only sort of works.

    Raking is fun in small amounts. I’m pretty tired of it now, though.

    And I detest the sound of any mechanical engine–mowers, blowers, snowmobiles . . . even the sound of our refrigerator motor running drives me nuts. It’s a real burden.
    .-= kristin @ going country´s last blog ..Nasty Chore–DODGED =-.

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  7. Dave on November 9, 2009 at 9:11 am

    I will never buy a leaf blower, there is no point! A rake does the job great and I like to have those leaves for mulching too. I like my bagging mower to collect them though, then they are already chopped up. I would easily pick a rake over a leaf blower any day.
    .-= Dave´s last blog ..Plant Maples for Fall Color =-.

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  8. KitsapFG on November 9, 2009 at 10:03 am

    We use a rake on the lawn and a leaf blower to ocassionally blow all the short evergreen needles off of our driveway. It becomes a carpet of them several times a year and raking them is a lot of work. When dry then are more easily blown out into the adjoining forest floor. For leaves though, I use a rake because they are lighter and more easily managed using the finesse of a human motor control as opposed to an indescriminate jet of powerful air.

    Reply to KitsapFG's comment

  9. Tree on November 9, 2009 at 10:18 am

    I can’t take the noise of a leaf blower. I have never had an issue using my rake. I have to admit though lots of times I like to run the me powered mower over the leaves and just leave them all winter. This year however I added them to my compost pile and will have some nice black material next spring to add to my beds.

    I am very excited about the spring. I will be working toward a late harvest since I have to double dig all my beds, and put in the raised beds. But I am going to be prepared for that, but adding cold frames to all my beds so I can extend the season just a little longer.
    .-= Tree´s last blog ..Being Accountable =-.

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  10. Bertie on November 9, 2009 at 10:33 am

    I’m lazy and don’t do anything with my leaves. I just leave them there. Some are still there in the spring, but by mid summer they’ve all blown away or rotted cause I can’t see them anymore. Provides good fertilizer for the lawn as far as I’m concerned. My neighbors all use their noisy leafblowers- one of them out blowing leaves around till 9:30 the other night. Grrr….Some of the neighbors use their leaf blowers every week to blow the grass clippings and dirt off their driveway and sidewalk. Seems like an awful waste of time and gasoline to me.

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  11. warren on November 9, 2009 at 12:35 pm

    Rake for us! I hate the sound of a blower and even more do I hate the smell!
    .-= warren´s last blog ..Trans-Siberian Orchestra =-.

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  12. Jaspenelle on November 9, 2009 at 12:52 pm

    I love raking for no other reason then the smell, it is so refreshing to me. I love watching my toddler run around the yard in the little piles I make picking out the biggest leaves he can find too. Leaf blowers frighten him but he loves wielding his little rake, I wouldn’t give up that sight for anything.

    Admittedly about 3/4 of the leaves are still on the lawn today, the constant rain and 9th month of pregnancy have combines into a unique blend of procrastination.
    .-= Jaspenelle´s last blog ..Protected: Pregnancy Update =-.

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  13. Marie on November 9, 2009 at 12:58 pm

    My husband and I just spent some time raking and mulching with our electric lawnmower yesterday. The “noismakers” in our neighborhood have been out in force for some weeks now. Ugh! And we’re the only house in the hood that doesn’t have a line of leaf bags at the curb. We compost ours, cover the garden beds with them, mulch the perrenials with them and wouldn’t dream of wasting fossil fuel to ship good mulch and organic matter to the town dump! What are people thinking? Or am I giving them too much credit?

    I was so glad to read your comments today. I had been wondering to my husband, where did this idea come from to treat our yards as living rooms? It is the outdoors afterall.

    Anyway, we are rakers and occasional mulchers.

    Reply to Marie's comment

  14. Marie on November 9, 2009 at 1:00 pm

    Oh, and a great link for a laugh…about leaves and suburbanites!
    .-= Marie´s last blog ..First Frost and graham crackers =-.

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  15. Mary on November 9, 2009 at 8:36 pm

    We’re rakers and mulchers here, too. No sense letting all that good carbon go to the landfill.

    What happened to the broom? People here hose down their driveways and vacuum everything inside, but sweeping is just as soothing as raking to me. Too many simple “chores” have been forgotten and I think we, as a society, are missing out on some great meditation time.

    Reply to Mary's comment

  16. Chicago Mike on November 9, 2009 at 11:25 pm

    Our neighbors all use rakes. I use my mower because it chops them up and mixes them with my grass, hopefully perfect for composting.
    .-= Chicago Mike´s last blog ..Funky Compost Plan =-.

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  17. deedee on November 10, 2009 at 1:36 am

    i used a rake for half of my yard… the other half is still waiting for me, but it will get raked too! (hopefully!) not a big leaf blower fan either.

    Reply to deedee's comment

  18. Hilde on November 10, 2009 at 4:04 am

    I often have the impression that especially men are only interested in outdoor activities including gardening when they can use a tool with a motor and a lot of noise!

    Reply to Hilde's comment

    • Gil on July 5, 2010 at 8:36 am

      I do see a lot of blustery guys using machines. that make a lot of noise. They say they can take the noise, as if they’ve got really muscular, macho eardrums. I for one use only one power tool, and that’s my string trimmer to neaten things up when I finish cutting the grass.. I use a manual reel mower to cut the grass, a manual yard sweeper to pick up leaves, and all of my woodworking tools are of the antique, manual type.
      There’s something very soothing abouit gliding along with a tool using only your muscles and your brain. It’s quiet, so you can think about other things, and there’s not that stress of trying to hurry,so you can finally turn off some deafening machine.

      Reply to Gil's comment

  19. WaterRoots on November 10, 2009 at 9:13 am

    We have ‘his’ and ‘hers’ rakes in our shed. This weekend, my husband and I spent an hour or so outdoors raking up whatever leaves were left. The last batch he mulched with the lawn mower. It was such a beautiful weekend, and we enjoyed the time together.

    Most of my neighbours rake. I’ve yet to see anyone in this neighbourhood using a leaf blower, although I did see a man across the street from our home using a vacuum.

    Reply to WaterRoots's comment

  20. Monica on November 10, 2009 at 5:54 pm

    I rarely rake—only spots that have to have it so they won’t get lost ;-D
    However…when I do I use a bamboo rake and I highly recommend them. They are a dream to use. I use a metal one for smoothing my raised beds though since the bamboo is not quite right for that job.
    I HATE blowers—though I do have an electric one for the very very very occasional use. I try as hard as I can not to use it but sometimes it is the only thing that gets all the “gunk” out of the rocks next to the house.
    .-= Monica´s last blog ..Rosehip Jelly =-.

    Reply to Monica's comment

    • Susy on November 10, 2009 at 6:13 pm

      Thanks for the tip on the bamboo rake. I generally try to buy natural material items, but I’ve had this rake for quite a while. I have a small metal one (only about 6″ wide) that I use for cleaning out debris from the flowerbeds and around plants where a big rake won’t work).

      Reply to Susy's comment

  21. Anythya on November 11, 2009 at 12:54 am

    Well im 21 and for some unknown reason i absolutley have always loved traditional ways and use them =D …i agree leaf blowers are costly and dont even work they just make more mess in my oppinion and yes it is a awful annoying sound i much prefer the good old rake ….i just dont get why people have to invent stupid usless lazy ways to do things hence the leaf blower, garlic chopper (i much perfer the herb crushers nothing quite like hand crushing the stuff takes away stress to =P ) you know what else i miss the good old quite non electric house vacuum sweeper instead of a vacuum with all its noise ….and you just cant buy them anymore =( i feel like i was born in the wrong era lol like for instance today i made cottage cheese from scratch (i made lactose-free, not soy, cottage cheese to) and yet i live directly across from a westfields and have the money to buy cheese …its not im lazy i just perfer to do it myself its fun and satisfying and i always know what goes into it =D ….i agree bring back the traditional ways and the barter system they were amazing =D

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  22. MAYBELLINE on November 11, 2009 at 1:11 am

    We use the lawnmower to mulch the leaves on the lawn and a broom to sweep them up everywhere else.
    .-= MAYBELLINE´s last blog ..Volunteers =-.

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  23. Karen on November 11, 2009 at 9:20 pm

    I live in the suburbs and that is all I hear all weekend -the incessant drone of those darn blowers. I mow my small lawn with a rotary mower and rake our leaves of which there are many. I compost about 1/3 of them and the rest bag up for the town to collect. Our town takes our leaves and composts them and then in the spring offers the compost for free. It is a pretty good deal. Years ago I got a blower at a tag sale for a dollar to blow the leaves out of my perennial beds but it really did not work that well so now I pluck by hand what remains after careful raking with my very small rake.

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  24. Sarah Jane on November 12, 2009 at 2:35 am

    .-= Sarah Jane´s last blog ..New Moon Swap! =-.

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  25. Pampered Mom on November 12, 2009 at 11:19 pm

    I’ve actually pondered this a bit in our neighborhood. There was one yard where there were barely any leaves, but the gentleman was using a leaf blower. It actually looked to me like it would take him more time to do it that way than it would if he just used a rake.

    I think the oddest way I’ve seen someone use a leaf blower, though, was when I watched the neighbor yesterday cleaning out his gutters with it. So very odd…

    We’re actually raking all of our leaves to the curb this year. I typically like to rake them into the landscaping and use that as mulch, but decided not to this year as I’d really like to minimize the chances of the fungal issues with our maple trees this year. It certainly was much quicker to rake them into the landscaping, though.
    .-= Pampered Mom´s last blog ..Paint =-.

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  26. Snowed In | Chiot's Run on February 7, 2010 at 11:59 am

    […] up into our house). We still like to shovel our driveway, instead of a snow blower. It’s like raking leaves, a great reason to get out on a beautiful day and a great workout (keeps those gardening muscles in […]

    Reply to Snowed In | Chiot’s Run's comment

  27. Brian on February 12, 2010 at 10:50 am

    Boy – just ask a simple question and you find out quite a lot about how folks think.

    Raking and shredding leaves in a mower should surely be good enough for most people – and if you live in a neighborhood with small yards and few trees then using a leaf blower – especially a powerful one – has to be a little strange. Furthermore there is little or no excuse for people to be using any powered garden tool at times whch are bound to annoy close neighbors

    But if you have a big yard and a lot of trees – well that’s a completely different story. Using a mower is also not such a great idea if the tree debris includes larger twigs. A leaf blower is a great tool – in the right place

    It is the small jobs and the large jobs that we tend to put off until it is too late to do them. Clearing leaves from a yard is just one such job for lots of people. Having a great tool that can turn a long and tiring job into a much more easily managed one is no bad thing. You just need to be fait to your neighbors.

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  28. Gil on April 28, 2010 at 8:38 am

    I’ve always preferred raking to the noise and blown-around dust of the obnoxious leaf blower some of my neighbors use. We’ve been saving the leaves from our cherry tree and the water oaks in the compost pile out back. My wife got me a yard sweeper, and it works on a similar principal to my manual reel mower, except it has brushes instead of blades. I simply push it and it sweeps most of the leaves into a big bag. There’s no motor or noise. It’s just the skiff-skiff sound of the brushes on the lawn. I find that it’s much easier on the back as I’m not bending over to pick up the leaves to tote them to the compost pile.

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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