Essential Tools for Fall Cleanup

The fall air feels fresh, cool and invigorating — a perfect invitation to get outside and tidy up your yard after the hot, dry summer. Trees are dropping their foliage, and if a storm blew through, your yard may be littered with twigs, broken branches and debris. Perennial plants are preparing for winter and need cutting back. Most annuals are ready for the compost.

Having the right tools at hand makes the yardwork more fun and efficient. We've assembled a collection of clean and quiet tools to get the job done quickly and make the most of your time. Forget old, smelly, gas-guzzling, hard-to-start choppers, shredders and chainsaws. These powerful new electric versions will get the job done in no time. We've got improved versions of time-tested hand tools, too.

Raking leavesWith the right tools for fall cleanup, autumn chores are easier.

Hori Hori Knife: Cut back perennial foliage, plant bulbs, divide plants, cut open bags, pop dandelions out of the ground, set out transplants, cut twine, pry the lid off a paint can?all with one tool. If I could pick just one hand tool to carry on my belt, it would be this multipurpose knife, first used by Japanese gardeners. The sharp, serrated steel blade easily divides plants, severs weed roots and cuts through twine and packaging. It's sharp enough to cut back perennials during fall cleanup, too. Just grab the tops in one hand and slice off the dying foliage near the ground with the knife.

The Hori Hori is tough to beat as a hand-digging tool, too. It slides into even hard-packed soil with ease and makes the right-sized hole with little effort. The classic wooden handle is comfortable for any hand size.

Pocket Pruners

Pocket Pruners and Pocket Snips: Pop these in your garden apron and you'll find a zillion uses for them in the yard and garden. Designed for small hands, the Pruners cut half-inch twigs and heavy stems with ease. Use the light-duty Pocket Snips for cutting bouquets, deadheading and harvesting, cutting twine and trimming herbs. Both tools are lightweight and ergonomically designed for hours of fatigue-free use.

Pruning Saw: If you need to cut limbs and branches larger than a half inch, add a folding Pruning Saw to your tool box. Unlike carpentry saws, pruning saw blades have specially angled, self-cleaning teeth that won't bind up with tree sap. The curved blade grips the branch for fast, accurate cuts. Inexpensive and powerful, our new Pruning Saw features a comfortable safety-grip handle that prevents accidents when folding the razor-sharp blade into its protective sheath. For more on how to make the right cuts when pruning trees, read this article: Early Season Pruning.

Electric Leaf Shredder: If you're raking up mountains of fall foliage, you can reduce them to a manageable size with an electric leaf shredder, and do good things for your landscape and the planet. Instead of bagging the leaves and having them hauled away, shred them and use them! This shredder can reduce 11 bags of leaves into just one. You'll find so many uses for shredded leaves in your yard, you'll wonder why you didn't do this sooner.

  • Spread a 1" to 2" thick layer of shredded leaves around trees, shrubs and perennials as an attractive and nutritious mulch. Decaying leaves don't rob the soil of nitrogen like bark and wood mulches do.
  • Add a thick layer of finely shredded leaves over your vegetable garden at the end of the season and mix them into the soil to add nutrients and organic matter?especially if your soil is sandy or clay or lacking in humus.
  • Use shredded leaves to add valuable "brown" matter to your compost. Chopped leaves are rich in microorganisms and nutrients.

One of our customers, "weekend warrior" from Circleville, OH, calls the Electric Leaf Shredder "a leaf-eating monster! Completely and quickly shredded the maple leaves from my two trees, and the neighbor's also. We both have gardens, so use the mulch on the garden and shrubbery."

The Electric Leaf Shredder is lightweight and simple to use. Add an extension cord up to 100' long, and you can take the shredder right to the job site. To speed up leaf collection and shredding, add a rake, Leaf Scoops and roomy, flat-to-store Leaf Tip Bags to your tool shed.

Electric Chipper: For heavier chopping jobs, the Electric Chipper fills the bill. The Electric Chipper chops twigs and branches up to 1.73" in diameter. It's quieter and cleaner than gas-powered chippers, but effectively turns hedge trimmings, storm and pruning debris into landscape mulch. Just plug it in, put on your safety glasses, press start and you're ready to go. The removable collection bag catches the chips so there's no mess around the machine as you work. The bag also makes spreading chips around your plants easy. Wood chips help hold soil moisture and decrease weeds around your trees and shrubs. You'll appreciate not bagging and hauling yard waste to the curb.

More Tools

You can see our complete lineup in the Yard Cleanup department.

Last updated: 03/11/2024