How To Remove Leaves From Gravel (without removing the gravel too)

how to remove leaves from gravel

Our house sits next to a huge old oak tree. Every autumn, it spews out a deluge of leaves and acorns. If we don't keep on top of all the leaves, it builds up, and the job of tidying becomes pretty big and annoying.

We have leaves all over the driveway and the lawn, including the gravelled area pictured above. The worse place to deal with the leaves is the gravelled area.

It is far too easy to end up removing the gravel along with the leaves.

If you're here because you have a similar problem, here's the quick solution to your leaf dilemma. Read on for more details.

To remove the dead leaves from your gravel driveway, use a leaf blower or vacuum at the lowest setting. Choose a calm day and make sure the leaves and the gravel are dry. For the noise averse, a rake with flexible tines such as a corn broom will do a fantastic job too.

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How to remove leaves from gravel

Removing leaves from a gravelled area is a tricky problem to solve because it can be so easy to mess up your gravel at the same time! If you aren't careful, you could even jam up your leaf vacuum if you suck up too many stones.

If you value peace and quiet as you tend to your garden, rakes will be the best option for you. Go for one with a flexible head that can gently tickle the ground, rather churn it up.

If you prefer a mechanical option, make sure your machine has a low enough setting so that you don't dislodge too much of the gravel at the same time.

Whatever method you decide on, you will have a much better chance of removing the largest volume of leaves if you attempt your garden clean-up on a calm, dry day.

Let's take a look at the options:

How to remove leaves off gravel with a leaf blower

leaf blower

A leaf blower is a good choice if you have a lot of tidying to do at once.

  1. Choose a calm and dry day. The last thing you need is to have the leaves blow around again once you have them in a neat pile!
  2. Make sure the leaves are dry. Wet, greasy leaves will be difficult to remove. A good time to do the job of clearing them is after a frost, when they are firm and crisp.
  3. Safety first. Always wear goggles to protect your eyes from flying debris and ear defenders to protect your hearing.
  4. Select the lowest setting. Set your leaf blower to the lowest setting possible, so that you don't displace the gravel as you work.
  5. Blow them into a pile. Blow your leaves into a pile away from the gravel area, and then bag up the pile as soon as possible.
  6. Use the leaves to feed your garden. Collect the leaves and use them a mulch for other areas of your garden. See below for tips on what to do with your garden leaves.

What is the best type of leaf blower for gravel?

The best type of leaf blower for gravel is one that has a low setting so that you don't risk blowing around the gravel at the same time. Some leaf blowers can also vacuum. That way, you can blow your leaves into a pile away from the gravel and suck them up at a higher setting.

How to remove leaves off gravel with a leaf vacuum

You can just as easily suck up the leaves too. This option is most suitable for breezy days when you just can't get your leaves to stay in a pile for long.

Here are some tips:

  1. Choose a dry day. A good time to clear your leaves is after a frost, when they are firm and crisp.
  2. Be safe. Wear safety goggles to protect your eyes from flying debris and ear defenders to protect your hearing.
  3. Select the lowest setting. Set your leaf vacuum to the lowest setting. You might wish to experiment in a small section to find out how high you set the suction before you start to suck up gravel too.

How to rake leaves off gravel

The problem with mechanical leaf blowers and vacuums is that they are often quite noisy! If you prefer a more relaxed option, and you don't want to annoy your neighbours (!), a rake is a good option.

Here are some tips for raking your leaves of gravelled areas:

  1. Choose a suitable rake. You need a rake with flexible tines made from flexible metal, plastic or corn. Otherwise, you risk raking up the gravel along with the leaves.
  2. Do it on a calm day when the leaves are dry. Choose a day when the leaves and the gravel are both dry.
  3. Rake into a pile. Rake towards you using a light, flicking motion to pick up the leaves and not the gravel.

What is the best rake for getting rid of leaves on gravel?

A flexible rake or broom is the best type for removing leaves from gravel. The best kind of rake is one with flexible tines in a fan shape, made with springy metal, plastic or corn.

This sort of rake is perfect for the job.

Corn brooms are also great for picking up leaves on gravel. I call them witches brooms.

Here's a video from a guy who uses a witch's broom with great effect to clear his gravel driveway.

No need for noisy leaf blowers!

Other methods for removing gravel

If you don't have a leaf blower or a suitable rake, what other ways are there to remove leaves from gravel?

Here are two more options to consider:

By hand

Yes, you can use your hands too.

However, this approach is only suitable for a light dusting of leaves unless you have a lot of patience!

If you don't let the leaves build up, removing them manually is the most effective option. Again, choose a dry day when the leaves will be easiest to remove.


If your gravel is quite large, and the debris you want to move is generally smaller, sifting could be your answer.

This method can be pretty laborious, so it is best suited for a one-off job.

To sift your gravel, you will need some chicken wire or mesh. The holes must be smaller than your gravel. Lay out the mesh on a tarpaulin and shovel the gravel onto it. Then shake to sift out the debris.

What to do with fallen leaves

Now you have collected a pile of leaves. What is the best way to use them?

It's important to note that; however careful you were, there may well be some stones in your leaf pile.

Stones make the leaves perfect for mulching areas that need well-drained soil to thrive.

However, bear that in mind that if you intend to shred your leaves, they could cause damage to your shredder.

Here are some ways you can use your gathered leaves:

  1. Compost whole. Dump them straight into your compost bin. According to Tom's Guide, you can put whole leaves in your compost bin when you mix it with green waste. Whole leaves take longer to break down than shredded leaves, but you can still get a great result.
  2. Shred and then compost. If you can shred the leaves, they will break down quicker. Once shredded, store them in a compost bin and allow them to break down.
  3. Shred and spread. Simply shred your leaves and spread them straight onto your flower beds. This will insulate the plants that need it over winter. When the leaf matter breaks down, it acts as a great soil conditioner later on.

How to prevent leaves sticking to gravel

Here are my tips for making your fall/autumn job of clearing your gravel much easier:

  1. Don't let the leaves build up. Do a regular clean-up. Once the leaves start to decompose and become sticky, they can be more difficult to remove.
  2. Switch to large stones. When choosing gravel for your driveway, choose larger stones that don't dislodge so easily. If you have a cat problem, note that local cats are less likely to poop on larger, pointy gravel.
  3. Don't be too picky. You will never get all the leaves, and they will be back, of course, so don't fuss over picking up every little leaf ☺.

Frequently asked questions

How do you remove leaves without removing mulch?

Leaves on mulch can be tricky to remove unless you deal with them quickly.

Don't let the leaves sit on the mulch for too long. If they have started to decompose, they will be harder to remove. Of course, the alternative is to leave them there, but that can stop moisture getting into the soil below.

To remove the leaves, choose a dry, calm day and use a flexible rake, or a leaf blower/vacuum on a low setting, that way the mulch should stay in place.

How to remove leaves from chippings?

The easiest time to remove leaves from wood chippings is as soon as possible. Choose a calm dry day and use a rake with flexible tines for the best result. Leaf blowers or leaf vacuums on a low setting can also be used to good effect.

What dissolves leaves?

Once you have gathered your leaves from the gravel, what's the best way to break them down quickly?

Make sure the leaf matter is as small as possible. That way, the microorganisms that are responsible for breaking down leaves have a larger surface area to work on. You can do this with a lawn mower. You can also purchase compost accelerators, which will speed up the process.

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Penny | SparklingPenny

Hi, I'm Penny. A busy mum of two boys and one dog, with the aim to enjoy life to the full.