Selecting A Leaf Blower, Things To Think About

If you have a small yard, or few deciduous (leafy) trees, a rake may be good enough for your needs. But larger properties, or those with several trees may be more easily cleared with a power assist from a leaf blower. Keep in mind, too, that your tree may not be the only one putting leaves in your yard or driveway. The neighbors can contribute, thanks to wind.

Power leaf blowers come in two basic types, gasoline-powered and electric.

Electric models are typically lighter, always quieter and often less expensive. But they rarely have anywhere near the power of a gasoline-powered type, so it may take longer to clear the area. Power ratings are marked on the unit and/or box, measured in the cubic feet of air per minute (CFM) they expel. Not surprisingly, you usually pay more for the higher rated models.

Some models run off a battery, but in order to keep the weight down to reasonable levels, they have only enough capacity to power a small unit. Most will have a cord. If you have a small yard that may not be a problem. But for larger areas, or if the trees are far from an outlet, you may want to consider a gasoline-powered model.

Carrying a hundred feet or more of extension cord behind the blower is inconvenient. The cord has a tendency to get in the way. You will trip over it from time to time, and it magically finds a way to lay across leaves you want to blow away. That requires working not only the blower, but becoming a cord management expert. That's the electric leaf blower dance.

Gasoline-powered leaf blowers are heavier, but generally push much more air. On the downside, they produce much more noise at the same time. Anyone who has heard a professional lawn care specialist at work has probably heard the sound, a cross between a lawnmower and a jet airplane at a distance. Neighbors may object to the noise, or it can irritate the user.

But a gas-powered blower will handle any size job you have and many can operate in reverse. Those will serve as a leaf vacuum cleaner as well as simply pushing the leaves to another location. That's an important consideration since blowing leaves into the street or onto a neighbor's property is often a bad alternative.

If all you need to do is blow them all into a central location to be packed up, this feature may not be needed. Here again, you'll pay more for a model that has that ability.

Blowers can be as light as a few pounds or as heavy as 25 lbs, rarely more. The latter doesn't sound like much until you carry or drag it around for an hour. You'll want to consider the tradeoff of weight vs power. Here, too, price will come into play since larger models tend to weigh more and cost more. Only buy what you need. -the Ultimate Garden Center


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