I was thinking about you again. This time I was walking around my neighborhood using a backpack leaf blower to clear the driveways and sidewalks of debris. Practically every Monday late afternoon, I blow the neighborhood in preparation for the street sweeper who comes around at 7:30am on Wednesday. I used to do the sidewalks a quarter mile down Mace Blvd. also, but when someone complained one day of the dust storm I was creating, it sort of took all the fun out of it. Then, too, my knees just aren’t what they used to be.
Anyway, the idea of doing an article on leaf blowers arrived in late January when there were still a lot of deciduous leaves to gather up. So it was too late to advise you on leaf blowers when they were actually needed. But then, timing has never been my strong suit. When the March edition of The Family Handyman discussing garden tools arrived, I just had no choice but to pen an article.
You first have 3 choices: cordless, corded, or gas powered.
If you are able to blow your yard in 15 minutes, you might want a battery powered blower. If a manufacturer claims a user life of one hour, that may be true only if the machine is used at the lower power. Compare the specs in wind speed in mph and the air voume moved in cubic feet per minute. Handle the blower with the battery attached for weight and balance comparison.
A larger yard might use a corded model. These have lots of power. Once again handle the tool. If your yard has fences, you will find it convenient to hold the blower up vertically to blow leaves away from the fence. So weight is a big consideration. If your yard is complicated, dragging cord behind you may be a real inconvenience. An electrical cord can do a real job on those plant labels other than simple cut mini blinds. If you need to buy a cord, get one that is long enough and light duty. Don’t worry about having a vacuum adaptor—I have had no luck with this action.
Gas powered models can either be hand held or in a backpack form. These are really convenient to use. Hand held models weigh about 9 lbs. Gas powered blowers tend to be noisy, so hearing protection is a must. You will need a separate gas tank in which to mix 2-stroke oil with you gas. If use is infrequent, use a gasoline stabilizer. Some communities have restrictions on gas leaf blowers, so check before you purchase. (Davis has threatened to eliminate them entirely.)
There are other uses for a blower than simply moving leaves. Cleaning roof gutters is one great use. A leaf blower works wonderfully for blowing water off yard furniture after pressure washing. We have an intricate metal sculpture that I haul outside, spray, and then blow dry with a leaf blower. Need a fast car interior clean up? Open all the doors and blow all the trash out the other side. Cobwebs on the outside of your house—not for long!
There you have it. That’s the best advice I can offer. If you take the plunge and become a blow person (p.c for blow man), let me know about your thrill of having all that wind power at your finger tips.
Stan The Tool Man (aka Stan The Blow Man)
P.S. As of 2019 I no longer blow leaves from neighbors driveways into the street. That is now illegal in Davis unless you are forming piles—and that has to be done within a week of street pickup, which has become far less frequent. Just as well—my backpack blower died. Knees are good though.