For every colorful, pretty leaf that falls from your trees onto the ground, that means one thing: You've got to get them up. Raking leaves may not be your favorite gardening chore, but it's one that can't be overlooked. Piles of leaves left on a lawn can produce excess moisture and unwanted diseases within the turf. To make the job easier and safer, properly prepare yourself and allow ample time so you don't have to rush.
Choose the right rake. Use a standard leaf rake, straight edge or broom design for general raking. Use a garden rake, which has curved, sharp teeth, to smooth out freshly cultivated soil. Choose a detaching rake to remove old, matted grass that is evident in early spring. Use a garden-grabber leaf rake to perform all aspects of the activity -- raking, grabbing and bagging -- in one step. Choose a clog-free leaf rake with tines that are designed to prevent leaves from getting stuck.
Warm up your muscles. Almost all of your muscles -- your arms, legs, chest, back and shoulders -- get a workout when raking. Take a short, brisk walk around your yard, then prepare your arms for the task ahead by lifting and doing some circular movements. Bend to each side and to the front and back, to stretch out the back and chest muscles.
Use proper raking movements. Clasp the rake with one hand just at the end of the handle. Place your other hand three-quarters of the way down the handle. Form a wide base with your feet and move your whole body, sweeping the rake only as comfortably as the base of your feet will allow. Switch sides to reduce over-using one area of muscles or injury. Try raking while leading with one hand for 10 or 15 minutes, then lead with the other hand.
Take a break and cool down. Relax your muscles after about 20 minutes of raking. Drink some water and do some stretches before resuming any further activity.