A leaf blower is a gardening tool which moves light weight debris such as leaves, and grass cuttings by propelling air out of a nozzle. Leaf blowers come in different shapes, some are handheld, others are backpacks, while others are wheeled models (walk behind leaf blower). They could also either use electric or gasoline engines, while some are battery powered.
A lot of times, trees shed very fast and so, leaf blowers help make packing the mess easier. Imagine if you had to bend over to sweep the mess that has been amassed. This is why the leaf blower comes in handy as the air produced from the nozzle propels the leaf cuttings to the direction in which you want it to go.
Depending on the seasons in your country, leaf blowers come in handy during summer’s sandy decks and spring’s windy periods. It also comes in handy during the dry season and harmattan period in West Africa during November to February periods.
History of the leaf blower
The leaf blower was invented by Aldo Vandermolen in the 1950s. Its need was necessitated by the drought conditions which California experienced at the time. This was because, using water for garden clean-up tasks was prohibited. As time went on, it was found out that leaf blowers saved time when compared to a broom.
In the 1990s, the leaf blower had become a necessary gardening equipment in the U.S. This was also the time when over 800,000 leaf blowers were sold per year.
Not only can the leaf blower function as a gardening tool, it has also been demonstrated by Richard Hammond on the Brainiac television series, to be used in constructing a man sized hover craft. Also due to its portability, it can be used in amateur construction work.
Choosing the right leaf blower
There are many things to check when buying products which include type, safety, and what it would be used for.
Handheld leaf blowers
When buying any product or service, you are sure to look out for speed, convenience and budget. This also applies to buying leaf blowers. Whether electric or gas, you are sure to check out these qualities before buying.
The gas handheld leaf blowers are the fastest when compared to all other types, however, corded electric blowers are great for big jobs.
With gas hand held leaf blowers, you can work anywhere, but as expected, they are noisier than the electric leaf blowers. They also require regular fueling. The cordless electric versions work per battery charge and offer less power than the as models. They are also typically light weight. The electric leaf blowers are about 40 to 70 percent quieter than gas machines and they have 90 percent efficiency.
As mentioned above, the gas-powered, hand-held leaf blower has more power. It blows air at 150-200mph. It also has a recoil start so you pull a cord to fire it up. You should also use thick padded gloves when handling the gasoline handheld blower, as the vibration from the blower can cause your hands to shake, for an hour or more after using this machine.
Backpack leaf blowers
If you are looking to do a lot of work, then you should be looking at the backpack leaf blowers. They help take the weight from the hands to the back. They also cost more, and offer more power. They often weigh more too, around 15-20 pounds.
Walk behind leaf blower
The walk behind leaf blower is also called the wheeled leaf blower. It can also come in electric or gasoline forms. If you have a lot of land that needs clearing, your best bet is the walk behind leaf blower. Not only does it have the most power, it can be tough to push, and it takes up most of your storage space.
As expected, it is the most expensive of all the categories fore mentioned.
When buying a walk behind leaf blower, you should take note of the following:
The direction of the blower
The direction of the blower
This is important because in the past, the walk behind leaf blowers blew debris in one direction. This was fine for sidewalks. However, today, the walk behind leaf blowers are used in homes and large land areas, so you want to look for a walk behind leaf blower with directional controls.
The directional controls would help you aim at where you want to blow the leaves and debris.
You also want to take note of the wheels. If you are going to be working across a rough terrain, then a model with large rear wheels is just perfect for you. You should also check for a front swivel wheel. The front swivel wheel will help you steer the blower easily.
Leaf Blower Vacuum
The leaf blower with a built in vacuum is also your best bet if you want to blow and bag fallen leaves. However, because the vacuum on most leaf blowers is not really designed to pack up a huge leaf pile, many owners do not use it. Also, many blowers with vacuum are overrated and do not live up to the expectations of consumers. This type of leaf blower is only available on gas and corded handheld units.
Like the walk behind leaf blower, you should look out for the front swivel wheel which would help you steer the leaf blower vacuum much more easily.
Be sure to check if the electric leaf blower is double insulated or not. This way, operators are protected from the risk of being shocked. You should also check to ensure that the extension cord used with the leaf blower is double insulated.
What the leaf blower is to be used for
The expanse of land to be worked on determines the kind of leaf blower to be bought. If you are going to be working for just short periods or on a small expanse of land, the handheld types are the best. For moderately long periods or moderately large expanse of land, the back pack leaf blower is the best.
If however, you would be working for a long time, on a large piece of land, the walk behind leaf blower is the best for you.
Tips to consider when using a leaf blower
The leaf blower is known to be very noisy, so you may want to consider other people when using the leaf blower. You need to also protect yourself. Currently, the leaf blower is banned in twenty California cities because of the noise. In some cities it is banned only within residential neighborhoods, while in others, only the gasoline-powered leaf blower is banned.
When buying the leaf blower, be sure to fill your warranty or registration card. This is especially important so you can be notified if there are safety checks to be done or if problems are found out to with your model.
You should always wear hearing protection (using ear muffs or soft foam), goggles and a dust mask. Noise cancelling headphones can also help protect your ears.
You should also ensure that people are not around the area you are clearing.
The leaf blowers should best be used during mid-day and not very early or late in the day.
If there is a breeze and it is windy, try working with it rather than against it.
Start at the edge of the yard, beneath bushes and trees and blow the debris to the middle of the lawn.
Use a hand rake to pack up stray bits after hauling them to a curb for pickup. Or you could simply use the vacuum to speed up this process.
Don’t use your leaf blowers on gravel driveways, bare dirt, and other dusty surfaces.
Also, do not use your leaf blower soon after applying fertilizer, pesticides, and herbicides.
Be sure to tie back any long hair, and remove loose clothing or jewelry.