Raking leaves is a pain in the ass. It’s time-consuming, wet, cold, and can even trigger your allergies. You have to do it, but so tedious is this task that people have come up with a variety of hacks and devices to help you get it done more efficiently. You can scoop leaves up with plastic or use a tarp or blanket to transport them. But one method has been gaining popularity in recent years, and it uses something you probably already have lying around and also probably want to get rid of: cardboard.
How to use cardboard to “plow” leaves
Instead of heading to the store for a big piece of plastic that you then have to store somewhere in your already-crowded garage along with those minimally effective rakes, you can use cardboard to “plow” your leaves. This tip is everywhere from Bob Vila to PopSugar to, for some reason, Geico.
One reason for this trick’s popularity is that you almost certainly have a cardboard box right now and, if you don’t, are likely to receive one soon. Whether you love Amazon or hate it, the online shopping revolution has surely reached your home, and you know that means an excess of boxes. Grab a big one and do the following:
- Identify the biggest section of cardboard, which is likely the longer side panel
- Cut off the flaps
- Cut down the side corners of the box
- Remove the two big pieces
Congrats, you’ve made a plow. This next part is really easy: You hold the flat part of the cardboard to the ground and push it across your yard. The leaves will accumulate on top of the board and you can push them all the way to the tarp, blanket, or bag that is waiting for them. Here’s a video demonstrating how it’s done:
If it’s been rainy in your area and your lawn or leaves are wet, your cardboard will inevitably get wet, too, which will slowly weaken it. This is best performed on dry or slightly damp leaves, although the good thing about cutting up a big box is that you create multiple plows. If and when your first piece of cardboard gets too wet to function, just swap it out.
This will impact the recyclability of your cardboard. Per Green Matters, you should dry out wet cardboard before attempting to recycle it, but check with your local recycling center about whether they even want it at all, because water breaks down some key fibers and might make the cardboard useless for recycling. You can also consider cutting up and composting your cardboard, which will be doubly easy if you compost your leaves already.
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