Who that is for
If you go on less than 25 % acre, tidy up after just a few trees, and don’t mind a good work out, we recommend a rake. If raking is more labor than you’re ready to cope with, a leaf blower is an improved choice.
Leaf blowers not merely work faster than rakes and take less effort but may also perform many tasks that rakes and mowers can’t. Blowers can clean pine needles from a gutter, blow dust out of your garage, clear grass clippings from a driveway, or get leaves out of thick ground-cover plants like vinca or pachysandra. They are able to even clear light dustings of snow.
Another way to manage leaves is by using a lawn mower with a mulching function. These mowers can slice and dice leaves into small pieces, leaving the bits behind to compost and offer nutrients to your lawn. This reaches be a huge task for a mower, and only the very best ones, including the gas-powered Honda HRX217VKA, can do it certainly well. And leaf mulching clears only your lawn areas-you still need something for clearing walkways, flower beds, and stonework.
Leaf blowers could be loud, so learn your neighborhood regulations regarding their operation. Some cities and towns have full-on leaf-blower bans, and others allow leaf blowing only during selected times. For instance, Arlington, Massachusetts, allows just one single blower per 6,000 square feet, to be operated only thirty minutes at the same time, with 15-minute breaks among. Other communities stick to maximum decibel levels. For general etiquette advice, Stihl includes a guide to safe and courteous leaf blowing that’s worth a look.
How exactly we picked and tested
You will discover several prominent varieties of leaf blower from which to choose: corded, cordless, and gas powered. Each includes a unique group of trade-offs which make it well suited for different circumstances, but we think corded models will be the best fit for some. They have to be tethered to an outlet, so they could not be as maneuverable as other options, nonetheless they cost minimal, have limitless run time, require minimal maintenance, emit a not-so-irritating sound, and issue zero emissions, which are major concerns for cordless and gas blowers. We’ve been very impressed with their power-the best corded models are on a par with or much better than many gas blowers.
Some of the blowers we tested in 2019. Photo: Doug Mahoney
Cordless blowers provide power similar compared to that of corded models but give you a much higher amount of maneuverability. The big downside may be the run time and charge time, and it’s a dealbreaker for those who have a huge property or a huge amount of trees. In run time, the very best model we’ve found tops out at just a little over thirty minutes, but the majority are in the 20- to 25-minute range. Couple that with a charge time of around 90 minutes (at least, usually more), and it potentially means a whole lot of starting and stopping, if you don’t have either a tiny lawn or another battery (that may get expensive). On the nice side, cordless models are usually the quietest blowers. As Stihl’s Dan Pherson told us, “In terms of low noise, it’s tough to beat lithium-ion cordless.”
Gas blowers, that have been after the standard, are falling out in clumps of favor as cordless models gain efficiency. But they’re still suitable for a sizable lawn with a whole lot of trees. We prefer backpack gas blowers to handheld gas blowers: Engines are heavy, so by relocating the weight to your back, backpack blowers may offer a bigger, more robust engine and a more substantial vehicle’s gas tank for longer run time without putting any strain on your own arm. Generally, backpack models begin in the $250 range and rise to a lot more than $500; the tiny to midsize models generally cost a lower amount than $350, so they’re typically more costly than comparable corded or cordless blowers. For the drawbacks, gas blowers are loud and stinky, plus they require proper off-season storage; you additionally have to combine gas and oil precisely to fuel them up. Concerns over emissions (and noise) have led many cities and neighborhoods to restrict or ban gas-powered leaf blowers entirely.
We must stress that, in looking at blowers, you shouldn’t put an excessive amount of stock in the airspeed (mph) and air volume (cfm, cubic feet each and every minute) numbers that manufacturers use to attempt to sell their blowers, whatever the style. According to Pherson, “Velocity helps lift the leaves, the quantity helps blow them away.” The problem is that there surely is no standardized way to measure blowers’ airflow stats-some companies record them from the finish of the blower tube, while some measure air coming directly off the motor, inflating the numbers. Having said that, for comparison purposes, they’re really only a starting place.
We did nearly all our testing, especially of the corded and cordless blowers, on a rural property in New Hampshire. The approximately 2-acre lawn is surrounded by, and dotted with, oak, maple, ash, and apple trees, which have leaves that drop in the fall. We used the blowers around flower beds, cobblestone steps, and stone walls, aswell as in dense ground cover like pachysandra and vinca. We also took the blowers in to the woods to check them on the dense, damp mat of pine needles and leaves that define the forest floor. Through this testing, we kept an eye on the simple the controls, the weight of the machines, and the entire ergonomics, looking subjectively at what lengths we’re able to move leaves and how easily the air helped us steer the leaf pile around.
We tested the gas-powered models with help from Kevin Walker, a landscaper with 31 years of experience, and two of his crew (Anthony, with nine years of experience, and Justin, with 12 years of experience). These models included the Husqvarna 130BT, Husqvarna 350BT, Ryobi RY08420A, Stihl BR 200, and Stihl BR 350.
To check these gas blowers, each landscaper fueled up, started, and used each blower for a protracted time period, and all three inspected each unit from tip to tail. We also viewed the decibel readings of every blower by using a Triplett SoniChek sound meter. We uncovered that the blowers all measured similarly regarding decibels but that different tones w