Ask any homeowner about fall property cleanup and more often than not you’ll hear a lot of moaning and groaning. That grating noise you hear is because autumn leaves may be beautiful to look at as they begin to fall from the trees, but eventually they become just a complete nuisance and mess on the lawn. Fall cleanup is not something that most gardeners enjoy. It’s time consuming and raking is hard work on the legs, arms and shoulders, but think twice before you let those leaves accumulate on your lawn.

However, some homeowners might wonder if raking the leaves off the lawn is even a necessity instead of letting them turn into compost naturally. Leaving some leaves on the lawn for composting is not a major problem, but you’re better off blowing them into the shrubs where they can turn into mulch. Another alternative for a smaller quality it that you can use the lawn mower for grinding leaves into particles to fertilize the lawn. However, if this is not the case and you have a substantial amount of leaves where you can’t see the lawn you should remove them.

Whether you use a landscape company for removing leaves from the property or you decide to tackle it yourself, you have to keep up with the removal otherwise the leaves can suffocate your grass. Too many leaves will block the grass from getting the sunlight, water and nutrients it needs. Therefore, a good rule of thumb to follow is that if you can’t see your lawn through the leaves, it can’t grow.

Leaf Removal Options:

  • Whether you have a push lawn mower or a lawn tractor, an attached leaf bagger is an ideal way to remove leaves and make the job much easier, particularly if you have a large property or a bad back. The collected leaves can then be dumped into a landscaper’s truck and removed. You can also bag them to be hauled away by you or your municipality. Remember that the leaves need to be dry or your mower and bagger will clog.
  • A hand held leaf blower/vacuum is a great tool for shredding leaves, clearing the driveway or sidewalk and maneuvering leaves around into piles for removal. Like the bagging system on the lawn mower, the leaves can be disposed of by your lawn care company or you bagging and disposing them. Also like the leaf bagger, leaves need to be dry because of clogging problems.
  • Raking is the least glamorous of all of the choices, but it’s efficient. There’s a great feeling of personal satisfaction when you’ve finished clearing away the fallen leaves from your yard to reveal your lawn or shrubs. You can use a tarp to carry them to the curb for municipal loose leaf pick, have your lawn care company load them in the truck or bag them yourself for removal.

With today’s new technology, there are several options for choosing a rake that is suitable for your purpose.

  1. Ergonomic rakes are made with a bent handle and they’re much easier on the back once you get the hang of how the rake works.
  2. Expanding metal rakes are a handy tool because they off a wide bow for racking the lawn and the narrow bow for getting into tight places.
  3. Rakes with cushioned handles help prevent blisters, wrist and hand injuries.
  4. Larger and wider plastic rakes are lightweight and cut down on actual raking time.


Another alternative for leaf removal is to compost them for mulch or fertilizer. Once your leaves have been shredded using your lawn mower or law tractor, put them in a composting bin. Mix in a source of nitrogen to accelerate the decomposition process. Wet grass clippings can be used as an accelerator and you should keep the leaves damp and turn them every few weeks. Decomposition occurs more quickly during the warm summer months, but the breakdown will occur in the winter month too, especially if your compost bin is somewhat protect from the harsh elements.

Municipal Collections:


The City of Burlington has a loose leaf collection service that is provided to Burlington residents. Collection typically begins the first week in November. The city request that loose raked leaves are placed at the edge of the curb ready for pick up by the city equipment on the start date in your area. Make sure you know your date(s).

Burlington loose leaf collection schedule

Halton yard waste

Halton Region:

Halton Region also provides a program that is separate from Burlington’s loose leaf collection. You can leave bagged leaves and yard waste at the curb on the same day as your garbage pick-up.


The City of Hamilton picks up residential yard and leaf waste on a weekly basis so that it can be composted instead of going in a landfill. During the season, residents can put out an unlimited number of paper bags (not plastic) at the curb on pickup day every week. Paper bags must have their tops rolled down to keep the contents dry and weigh less than 23 kilograms. More info

Hamilton Residents: Find your Collection Calendar here.

It will vary by address. Here’s a sample:

Hamilton yard waste collection example