Autumn can leave your garden looking very messy, with leaves and debris scattered every where. This is where the trusty leaf blower comes in. Leaf blowers may soon be the most useful tool you find in your shed. Despite their name, leaf blowers are much more versatile than they may have you believe, they can handle a myriad of garden duties. So how do you narrow down the options? From the cheap and cheerful to the large and powerful.
The important thing to remember when buying a blower is what it will be used for. If you are using it for shorter periods of time for a small amounts debris, it is better to choose a lightweight, agile hand-held leaf blower. If you are working for longer periods and with more material to clean, a backpack blower is better.
What is the best leaf blower?
Corded electric leaf blowers and leaf blower vacs are typically the cheaper option. Corded leaf blowers are a nice mix between between electric and gas. Getting more power than the batter models with out the hassle of dealing with gas and oil. The drawback of this tool though is what makes it more powerful, and that would be the cord. Despite being lightweight and manoeuvrable, the cord limits how far you can go with the tool.
If you have never owned a blower before and have not been around the gas and oil versions, it can be quite overwhelming. With the battery operated option, it is as simple as clicking a battery into the tool and squeezing the trigger. Motor maintenance could be as little as non-existent or once in a while check-up. These models are great for cleaning small decked areas where you need to blow leaves out from around pots, and are ideal for borders as they won't destroy your plants with strong blasts of air.
This blower has the most power behind it on average but takes a lot of care to maintain, not to mention that it is the loudest compared to the others. Great for clearing large areas and tackling damp leaves. As they don't have a power cable they're great for getting around large obstacles such as trees or ponds.The handheld models are less expensive than the back-pack models, but back-pack models put much less strain on your arms and are easier to handle, so if you're using your leaf blower for any length of time it may be worth splashing out on one of these.
What's the point of leaf blowers?
The purpose of leaf blowers is to remove debris, dead leaves, and other miscellaneous material from the ground and push it to the outskirts of the area. A leaf blower uses the power of air, and is often used to removed debris (more commonly leaves) from flower patches and pathways, to keep gardens looking tidy. Many people ask, whats the point of leaf blowers? It may seem you're blowing leaves from one spot to the next, however once you've cleared leaves from delicate areas (such as flower beds) most leaf blowers come with the option to then vacuum them up and hold them in a refuse bag.
Is there a quiet leaf blower?
There is no such thing as a "quiet" leaf blower. However there are a few features you can look for when purchasing your leaf blower that will contribute to its less noise pollution. Avoiding gas powered products will ensure your machine is quieter, while it's often understood that petrol gives the machine much more power, they certainly do not claim to be quiet as any 2-stroke engine can be noisy. Electric blowers are a much better option if you're looking for a less boisterous tool.
According to manufacturers lobbyists the average gas leaf blower puts out around 75-80dB. A blower categorised as a 'quiet' blower is one that puts out under 70dB(A). Regardless of the leaf blower at hand, you should always take reasonable precautions to protect yourself from noise and hearing damage with ear plugs and ear muffs.
How heavy is a leaf blower?
Leaf blowers come in various different sizes and shapes, depending of engine size and additional features. Some of the heavier leaf blowers you'll find come with aback pack style hoist, assist you in easy manoeuvring. While corded blowers are notoriously lighter, they do not offer as much power as a their petrol counterparts. It is all very dependant on how much capability you have and how much power you feel you will need. Below is a table of all the leaf blowers available at SGS and how much they weigh.
Is cfm or mph more important in a leaf blower?
Blower CFM, or cubic feet per minute, measures the volume of air leaving the blower. The angle, length, and speed of rotation of the blades determine how much air moves through and determines both the speed and volume of air moving. For example, a leaf blower with a CFM of 120 can push 120 cubic feet of leaves and debris in one minute.
Miles per hour as a measurement of airspeed, is pretty easy to understand. We measure speeds in cars, wind speeds, and other areas with this measurement. Airspeed is important because it takes more of it to move heavier objects. Dry grass is one thing. Pebbles, mulch, and wet leaves are another.
You need a combination of both MPH and CFM to get the job done. Not one is more important than the other, they work together harmoniously.
What makes a good leaf blower?
When on the hunt for a leaf blower there's a host of features that can help to sway your decision. While you may think that a blower should be what it says on the box, the following features can make all the difference. Saving you time and effort spent gardening.
If your leaf blower comes with a refuse bag that will need to be emptied, the thought of handling dirty wet leaves may not be the most appealing image. Many leaf blowers now come with built in mulching blades to assist in clearing your garden by sucking up leaves and mulching them into tiny pieces, which are then captured in a bag and easily disposed.
Some blowers have flattened nozzles, and others have larger rounded ones - and some models will come with both in interchangeable heads. As a general rule you should choose the flatter tipped nozzle for sweeping loose leaves into one pile and the rounder nozzle for loosening leaves that are embedded in the lawn.
There's two features to look out for with your collection bag. Firstly how large is the bag, and how large is your garden. It'll be very frustrating to have to stop and head over to the compost heap several times in one day. The other notable point is, is the bag waterproof? If you're dealing with wet leaves and a non waterproof bag, things can get very messy.
Leaf blowers can be quite large bulky machines. Without ample storage space they can easily get damaged. It's important to know exactly how much space you have available and if the machine in question has any removable or collapsible parts to make storage easier.
Do leaf blowers work on wet leaves?
If the leaves in question are slightly damp then using a leaf blower shouldn't be much of a problem. However if the leaves are truly soaked from a heavy rain fall then it's best to leave them well alone until they have had a chance to dry. It is much easier to remove dry leaves with a blower/vac than wet leaves. If collecting wet leaves is unavoidable then make sure that you select a leaf blower with the strong air stream to ensure it can lift the damp or wet leaves and move them. Direct a small jet of air to the pile of wet leaves to lift them from the ground and which can be then collected easily.
You need to use leaf blower vacuums with a waterproof collection bag if you want to use it for removing wet leaves. However it really is better not to collect very wet leaves using the blower as it can damage the blades and fan inside the blower/vac. Leaf blower vacs have a fan that sucks up and shreds leaves. However, the fan can easily be blocked with twigs and clods of wet leaves. Continuous blockages can overtime cause long term damage.
Can you use a leaf blower in the rain?
If you want to use your leaf blower in a safe and practical way to provide a longer life, just use it on dry days. You don’t want to operate your leaf blower if it is raining outside, this is a huge no go if you have an electric blower, as I'm sure we don't have to tell you water and electric do not mix. However even with a petrol machine, although it may not be imminently dangerous, wet leaves and dirt are heavier than dry, producing more work for you, for your leaf blower, and increasing the risk of injury if anyone would enter your work area.
Can you use a leaf blower for snow?
Leaf blowers can easily be used when removing snow from your steps, cars and driveways. However, there are a couple of things to keep in mind before you attempt this. Leaf blowers can only be effective with a light layer of snow. Depending on the power of your blower, it should be able to move snow that is piled up to an inch thick, essentially the more power your blower has, the thicker the layer of snow it will be able to move.
Furthermore some areas across the UK get a wet snow, while others get a dry and powdery snow. If the snow you're dealing with is wet or already beginning to melt, then you won’t have much luck trying to use your leaf blower. Unless you're working with powdery snow; it won’t move, it will just make it icier and much more dangerous.