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How to Use Leaf Blower/Vacs

Knowing When to Use Leaf Blower/Vacs -- And When Not To


Picture of Leaf Hog leaf blower.

Picture of a "Leaf Hog" leaf blower/vac.

David Beaulieu

This article addresses "how to use leaf blower/vacs" in the sense of developing a plan for employing leaf blower/vacs as one component in your yard-cleanup arsenal. The article does not address such issues as starting up such equipment, switching from blower mode to vacuum mode, etc. For information on the latter, please consult my reviews of specific leaf blower/vacs; for instance:

The basic premise of the present article is that the most effective way in which to use leaf blowers/vacs is to use them selectively. That is, you should not buy a leaf blower/vac with the idea that you will never rake again, (unless your physical condition does not allow you to pick up a rake).

Rather, plan on keeping that good ol' fashioned rake handy, but supplement with leaf blower/vacs when you clearly can save some time with these new-fangled gadgets, be it in blower mode or vacuum mode.

When It Makes Sense to Use Leaf Blower/Vacs: Blower Mode

Just a couple of examples:

If you need to "sweep" dried grass clippings, leaves or dirt off your driveway, patio, sidewalk, etc. quickly, then -- as long as you're not especially concerned about picking them up just as quickly -- it may make sense to use leaf blower/vacs. If pick-up is a concern, use a shop-vac instead.

If you have a large lawn and it becomes covered with great masses of leaves in fall, it may make sense to use leaf blower/vacs as a first step in the leaf-removal process. That is, using a leaf blower/vac in conjunction with tarps, round up the bulk of the leaves into separate piles. For instance:

  • Beginning in the far left-hand corner of your lawn, blow the majority of leaves into a pile, on a tarp.
  • Don't be fussy: it's counter-productive to try to round up every last leaf using a leaf blower/vac.
  • When you've blown the majority of the leaves into a pile in this corner of the lawn, fold the tarp over the leaves and remove the pile (you'll probably need help) by dragging the tarp away
  • Dump the leaves into an enclosure where they can be composted or from which they can later be added to a compost bin
  • Move on to the other corners, proceeding in the same manner.
  • Then tackle the leaves in the center of the lawn, in like fashion.

But I emphasize that the idea here is not to be fussy. Remove the bulk of the leaves, then finish up with a leaf rake (Page 2).

If you don't compost your leaves and are, instead, facing the proposition of having to dispose of them in leaf bags, consider an alternative to removal: namely, mulching in place. I.e., a mulching mower may make more sense for you than a leaf blower/vac. Just run the mulching mower over the leaves, letting it chew them up into fine pieces that will work as a sort of lawn fertilizer. Another alternative is to run either a regular or a mulching mower over the leaves with the bag attachment on, then dump them from the bag attachment into your leaf bags. The bag attachments for some mowers hold more leaves than do the vacuum bags of leaf blower/vacs, so the job will go faster.

On Page 2, let's consider the use of leaf blower/vacs in vacuum mode, as well as the place that rakes continue to hold in leaf-removal operations....

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