What to Do with Wet Leaves [4 Best Methods]

Wet leaves are a heavy, soggy mess and are more challenging to rake and mulch than dry leaves. So, if you’re wondering what to do with wet leaves in your yard during a rainy fall, continue reading below.

The best tools to remove wet leaves are a powerful leaf blower or a leaf rake designed to handle wet leaves. Lawn vacuums and lawn sweepers are usually not as effective at removing wet leaves because they are primarily designed to collect dry leaves. While collecting wet leaves can seem like a big chore, wet leaves can be gathered and disposed of. Alternatively, wet leaves can be turned into mulch that is incredibly beneficial to your lawn and garden.

What to do with wet leaves

How Do You Get Rid of Wet Leaves?

Getting rid of leaves collecting in your yard during a wet fall can be daunting. There won’t be any dry leaf piles to jump into, but you’ve got to get rid of the leaves to keep them from smothering your lawn in spring. Follow these tips and even during a rainy fall, you’ll have your yard cleared of wet leaves in no time.

Best Way to Collect Wet Leaves

  • For large lawns, the best way to collect wet leaves is to use a leaf blower. While it may be a little bit slower than blowing dry leaves, a high quality, powerful leaf blower will do the job faster and more efficiently than any other tool.
  • For small lawns, a rake specially designed to handle both wet and dry leaves is the best way to collect wet leaves. Look for short-tined or adjustable rakes with durable fiberglass handles, as they’re strong enough to handle the extra strain of raking wet leaves.
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  • If you’re looking to remove wet leaves from your lawn, or move them to a compost pile, pile your leaves on a tarp. Tie up the corners of the tarp once you’ve piled the leaves. This is much easier than trying to move heavy, wet leaves into trash bins or trash bags.
  • If you plan to mulch wet leaves for use in your garden, blow or rake your leaves into a low pile 2-3 inches deep near your garden. This way, you can use your leaf shredder or mulching mower, then blow or rake the mulch right into your garden.

Will a Lawn Sweeper Pick up Wet Leaves?

The best lawn sweepers on the market make yard cleanup a breeze. They pick up leaves, pine needles, and acorns at once and are faster and more efficient than rakes and leaf blowers. They also require much less effort than other yard-clearing tools.

That said, lawn sweepers generally work best when clearing dry leaves. The bristles scoop up dry leaves with ease but may leave some wet leaves behind, requiring you to go over areas multiple times. When getting rid of wet leaves, lawn sweepers are typically not the best tool.

A large green rake used to create a pile of wet leaves on a driveway

Will a Lawn Vacuum Pick up Wet Leaves?

Lawn vacuums are another great tool in your arsenal, especially when you want to mulch leaves. There’s no bagging required because lawn vacuums suck up leaves, mulch them, and collect them in a bag attached to the lawn vacuum. They’re a one-stop tool for leaf cleanup.

A powerful lawn vacuum can suck up wet leaves, but wet leaves have a higher chance of clogging mulching devices. Also, wet leaves can be very heavy. The bag attached to your lawn vacuum can soon become a soggy lead weight if you’re dealing with wet leaves. If your leaf blower has a vacuum setting, it’s best to use it only for dry leaves.

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Can You Bag Wet Leaves?

You can bag wet leaves, but keep in mind that wet leaves packed into bags can become very heavy. Also, if you bag leaves while they’re wet, they won’t dry.

Consider using a tarp to collect wet leaves. This way, you can tie the corners of the tarp to contain the leaves when you want to move them. If you use a tarp, it’s easy to remove leaves to reduce weight, or to untie the tarp during sunny weather to allow the wet leaves to dry.

Can You Mow Wet Leaves?

You can mow wet leaves where they lay without raking. Simply set your mower blade to the highest height and mow your lawn as usual. Mowing wet leaves is a good way to mulch them and feed your lawn. Mowed leaves break down quickly and act as a fertilizer. If you leave whole leaves on the lawn, they will smother your grass.

Fallen wet leaves scattered throughout the lawn and grass on a rainy autumn day

Can Wet Leaves be Mulched?

Wet leaves can be mulched with a lawn mower, string trimmer, leaf shredder, or something else. If you’re mowing wet leaves to mulch them, make sure to pile them no more than 2-3 inches deep before mowing. Also, stop your mower or leaf shredder frequently to check for clogs.

Wet leaves are more likely to clump and resist shredding, but with a few repeat passes with your mower, you will turn your wet leaves into incredible mulch. You can spread this mulch in your lawn or garden, or wherever you need it most.

Can You Rake Wet Leaves?

You can rake leaves when they are wet, but it will be more challenging than when they are dry as the water increases the weight.

Best Way to Rake Wet Leaves

You’ll want to use a sturdy rake with a fiberglass handle. The increased durability will ease some of the strain on your body that comes with raking wet leaves, while also making sure the rake doesn’t break.

Next, lay a tarp on the ground near the leaves. Rake a small number of wet leaves onto the middle of the tarp. It’s best to be conservative and only fill the tarp with as many wet leaves as you can easily carry. Remember, they will be a lot heavier than dry leaves.

Transfer the tarp with leaves to your leaf bags or compost pile and continue filling and transferring small amounts of leaves until all the wet leaves are removed from your yard.

Raking wet leaves can be a tedious and long process due to only transferring a small number of leaves at a time, but it is possible with the right equipment.

Can You Use a Leaf Blower on Wet Leaves?

Leaf blowers are the best tool for removing wet leaves. Stubborn wet leaves may stick to stone and wood surfaces, like decks and patios, but with the right leaf blower, you can gather all your leaves. It may take a little longer than blowing dry leaves, but a leaf blower is the #1 wet leaf tool.

Will Wet Leaves Kill Grass?

Any whole leaves left on grass until spring are a hazard to your lawn. They block air and sunlight from reaching the grass, which kills your lawn and invites weeds. Whether wet or dry, get rid of leaves each fall.

The good news is, you can get rid of wet leaves without a rake or a leaf blower. Simply mow the leaves until they are finely chopped and you’ve just mulched your lawn with leaves!

After you’ve mowed the leaves in your lawn, apply a high-nitrogen fertilizer in spring. This will help encourage the leaves to break down and enrich your soil.

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