Wednesday October 19, 2016
The hues of October are in full burst mode on the eastern seaboard. The blazing oranges and sunny golds can take one’s breath away. Even the crunch under your feet when the leaves come floating down on the cool autumn breeze is a welcome sound of the season.
But then it comes time to clean them up. The other sound of the season is the familiar buzz of the leaf blower, waking us up on sleepy Saturday mornings. Noise-ordinance-breaking aside, leaf blowing sure beats raking in terms of quick and efficient work and are the tool of choice to use on pavers.
As the old adage goes, use the right tool for the job. Leaf blowers vary a bit in power, size and fuel supply. Professional landscapers use the larger, gas-powered machines. You often can see them sporting the gas-powered blowers on their back with the long hoses in their gloved hands and serious ear protection on their heads. The power of these machines is the quickest way to get the job done but for the typical homeowner these blowers can be too loud, too heavy, and too cumbersome to fuel up.
Professionals also use smaller, hand-held leaf blowers for more fine-tuned work. A home’s hardscape can usually be cleaned up with a smaller, battery-operated, hand-held blower.
The electric machines can work off a battery supply or a cord. Do your research on how long a battery would have to last for a day’s work. The batteries used are lithium-ion batteries, which are much lighter in weight and can hold a lot more charge than the traditional lead acid batteries. When shopping for a leaf blower, make sure to know the square footage area of your hardscape and landscape. You’ll want a full charge on a battery-operated blower to be up to the job.
A corded machine is a better option if a power supply is easily accessible and the area is large. Extension cords come in a variety of lengths, making a corded leaf blower a viable option for outdoor spaces and patios that may take a bit longer effort to tidy up. Be sure to figure in the cost of a grounded, outdoor-use power cord in the tool budget.
Once you get those leaves in a pile (away from the house for safety’s sake), the kids and the dogs will probably make a beeline for it. It’s all part of the fun of the season. Make sure to only blow soft, dry leaves into the pile, taking out any sticks or sharp objects that may cause harm. Eye and skin protection for any jumpers are good ideas, too.
It’s best to get those leaves bagged up within a day, though. Piles of dry leaves are a fire hazard. If your township mulches un-bagged leaves, consider using tarp to keep them tidy until leaf collection day. Rain and wind could mean another noisy Saturday morning spent cleaning up. Golden leaves are lovely, but silence is golden, too.
Nature's first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.
-Robert Frost, 1874-1963