Removing leaves from gravel patios, pathways and driveways is a pain in the neck, but by using the right tools -- or even just the right mindset and some work -- you can turn this job into a simple maintenance task. No matter what strategy you choose, the real trick is getting leaves up regularly when they're dry and before the layer builds up and starts to break down.
Use a lightweight leaf rake to clean up gravel areas in your yard. A leaf rake has springy tines in the shape of a triangle and come in light, flexible metal, springy bamboo and plastic. Rake towards you, using a light flicking motion to pick up the leaves without catching the gravel. If possible, rake leaves when they are dry because wet leaves have a way of settling into the gravel, making them difficult to dislodge.
Blow It Out
Set a leaf blower on the lowest setting to blow leaves off a gravel landscape feature. Make sure to work away from windows and people. Even at a low setting, leaf blowers can pick up and fling pieces of gravel. Wear safety goggles to protect your eyes. In addition to leaves, you can also get rid of seedpods and small twigs that tend to work their way into gravel. Tidy up the border and return escaped gravel to the area using a lawn rake or broom.
Suck It Up
Lightweight dry leaves weigh far less than gravel, making it possible to vacuum them up. Use a leaf vacuum on the lowest setting to suck up the leaves. Gravel weight varies depending on the size and material. Start with a small section to see if the gravel stays in place when you vacuum. You can buy dedicated landscape vacuums or a leaf blower with vacuuming capabilities. Make sure the catch bag is firmly attached before you start and empty it regularly as you work. Dry leaves come up easily but wet leaves are harder to vacuum.
Zen Leaf Removal
In small gravel spaces, drag a yard waste bin to the area and pick up and discard the leaves by hand. Repeat the process daily or every few days to keep the task from getting overwhelming. It's not glamorous, but picking up the leaves by hand is both effective and gentle, you don't need any expensive equipment and you don't run the risk of dislodging the gravel.
Use old leaves whole to mulch shrub beds. You can also mow a pile of leaves to turn it into fine mulch, but keep in mind that anything you picked up from the gravel area could have small stones in it. You can mow it, but make sure to wear eye protection and work in an area isolated from people and buildings. Many cities and towns pick up yard waste, a good solution when you have minimal leaf litter to dispose of. If you have a compost pile, add the leaves and allow them to break down naturally.
Eulalia Palomo has been a professional writer since 2009. Prior to taking up writing full time she has worked as a landscape artist and organic gardener. Palomo holds a Bachelor of Arts in liberal studies from Boston University. She travels widely and has spent over six years living abroad.