Garden Detective: Fall cleanup helpers

Bear Claw Scoops make picking up raked leaves Bear Claw Scoops make picking up raked leaves a snap. Photo Credit: Handout

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Jessica Damiano Jessica Damiano, Newsday columnist

Jessica Damiano is a master gardener and journalist with more than 20 years experience in radio, television, print

Autumn is in full swing, and you know what that means? Yard work, and lots of it. There are leaves to rake, summer perennials to cut back and a bunch of other chores that, when done now, will help the next growing season get off to an easier start. Here are five products to help make the cleanup easier.

Bear Claw Scoops (plowhearth.com / $19.95)

These heavy-duty plastic bear claw scoops highly rated by purchasers posting reviews on the website, are as fun to use as they are useful for leaf gathering, and using them lessens the strain on your back. What's more, your hands will remain cleaner, and they may inspire the kids to help.

Craftsman push lawn sweeper (Sears.com / $129.99)

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To keep you from bending and stooping, raking and bagging, this manually operated push lawn sweeper is like a vacuum, minus the electricity and noise. Just push the lightweight sweeper through the yard, and it will draw in leaves, twigs, grass clippings and acorns from your lawn and pavement and deposit them into the attached 6 bushel bag. Four stiff 10-inch-diameter brushes do all the work. Not cheap, but brilliant.

Electric leaf mulcher (improvementscatalog.com/$179.95)

Why bag and throw out all those leaves when you can make rich, organic mulch with them? This shredder uses a 13-amp motor that makes easy work of chopping up foliage using heavy-duty grass trimmer line instead of blades, shredding at a rate of 53 gallons per minute. And even if you aren't interested in making mulch, you'll have fewer bags to put out on the curb: The shredder transforms 11 bags of leaves into one. The universal bag holder works with standard plastic or brown paper leaf bags. Plus, the extra-large on/off switch makes operation possible while wearing gloves.

Orbit telescoping gutter wand (The Home Depot; Lowe's / about $20)

Cleaning leaf debris from gutters is an important part of fall cleanup; neglect this task and you might end up with a leak that damages your interior walls. This telescoping gutter makes easy work of the job when attached to a garden hose. The wand extends from 41.5 inches to 68.5 inches and angles into gutters to direct a powerful blast of water that sweeps them free of leaves and debris.

Bulb Bopper (Gardeners.com / $34.95)

It's time to plant bulbs! If you're digging up an entire area or planting in a new bed, the job can be a cinch. But trying to insert bulbs into existing beds can be laborious and time-consuming. The Bulb Bopper cuts the time and energy you'll spend by helping you create effortless 2-inch-diameter planting holes up to 9 inches deep in seconds. Just attach to a standard power drill and pull the trigger, drop in bulbs, cover and you're done.

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