girl using a leaf blower

Leaf Blowers


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handheld electric leaf blower When you are facing a yard full of fallen leaves, do you reach for a rake or a leaf blower?  While they are noisy, leaf blowers can do the job in far less time and with far fewer blisters on your hands!  They can also sweep your driveway and clear light snow, while some models can mulch or vacuum leaves, and even clean gutters.

There are several things to consider when choosing a leaf blower.  Should you buy a gasoline or electric power blower?  Is a simple blower sufficient or would a combination blower/vacuum clean up the yard more efficiently?  Does your yard size and your physical condition warrant a handheld leaf blower, a backpack blower, or a walk-behind blower?  Do municipal noise ordinances limit your leaf blower choices?  And, last but not least, how much are you willing to spend on a leaf blower?

Gasoline or Electric

blowing leaves at a park Gasoline powered leaf blowers are more powerful, but they also vibrate more and are noisier.  Backpack leaf blowers have two-cycle engines, so you need to mix oil and gasoline.  Electric blowers are quieter and lighter, and they vibrate less.  Some require a cord, which can restrict your movement.  Others have rechargeable batteries.  These units are the least powerful and are best for small yards and surfaces such as driveways.

In addition to the type of engine, you should consider how powerful the engine is.  Leaf blower engine displacements range from 20 to 60 cubic centimeters (cc).  If your yard is smaller than half an acre, a 30 cc engine will probably provide enough power.

Blower or Blower/Vacuum

Blowers simply blow material into a handy pile.  You can blow your leaves all the way to your compost pile, or blow them into a pile and scoop them into bags.  Most cities have ordinances restricting you from blowing yard material into the street.

Blower/vacuum combinations allow you to reverse the airflow and suck up leaves and debris.  This feature is handy for sucking leaves out of shrubs, for example.  However, sticks and rocks can jam the vacuum function.  Look for built-in mulching capabilities on these units.

Handheld, Backpack, or Walk-behind

using a backpack leaf blower Handheld leaf blowers are the most popular because they are portable, convenient, and inexpensive.  Both gasoline and electric powered models are available.  If you have a small yard, they are a good choice, but they can be too heavy to use on a large yard.

Backpack leaf blowers are always gas-powered.  The blower fits in a harness that you wear on your back, attached to a hose.  Backpack blowers are good choices for larger yards.

Walk-behind leaf blowers are also gas-powered.  They are mounted on wheels and are easy to maneuver.  Because they are the most expensive choice for leaf blowers, they are best for very large yards.

Noise Ordinances

leaf blower blowing leaves Before you purchase your leaf blower, check the noise ordinances in your city.  Some cities restrict leaf blower usage to certain times of the day or to maximum decibel levels.  Noise level restrictions may be stricter in residential areas than in commercial or industrial areas, and some cities have banned the use of leaf blowers altogether.  So be sure to check the laws before you invest in a leaf blower you won't be able to use.  These news articles, from the New York Times and the Washington Post, highlight some of the issues involved in leaf blower usage.


walk-behind leaf blower Leaf blowers can cost as much as $500 for a walk-behind version or as little as $50 for an electric, handheld version.  Backpack models typically cost between $200 and $400.  Consider the size of your yard and the amount of fallen leaves and debris you need to blow when deciding what kind of unit to buy and how much money you are willing to spend.

Leaf blowers are versatile machines that can make your autumn cleanup much easier.  For more information about buying a leaf blower, check out these websites:

Leaf Blower Manufacturers

  • Black & Decker - electric blower vacs.
  • Husqvarna - leaf blowers for homeowners and professionals.
  • Little Wonder - walk-behind blowers.
  • Stihl USA - backpack and hand-held blowers.
  • Toro - yard tools, including electric blowers and vacs.
  • Troy-Bilt - wheeled, backpack, and handheld leaf blowers.

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