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All About Leaf Blowers and Vacuums

By: Jeff Durham - Updated: 24 Sep 2012 | comments*Discuss
 
Blowers Vacuums Gathering Leaves Garden

When it's autumn, the thought of raking up all the dead leaves can often be a daunting prospect for even the keenest of gardeners. But a blower or vacuum can make light work of this both in terms of physical labour and in time saved.

Different Varieties

They basically come in 3 different formats - blowers, vacuums and blower/vacuum/shredders combined with the latter ones tending to be the most expensive due to them being multi-functional.

They can be powered by gas or electric. Gas ones are more powerful so are ideal if you have a very large amount of leaves to gather whilst electric ones tend to be less expensive and are usually quieter.

People tend to prefer blowers to vacuums if they have quite a large volume of leaves to gather as they can be blown into one huge pile and then dealt with later, unlike with a vacuum where the bag would soon become full.

For very large gardens, there are also larger vacuums which you walk behind which suck up all the leaves.

How to Gather Leaves

If you are using a blower, then once you have gathered up all the leaves into one pile, put them into bags. Black bin bags are perfect. Although some people may end up putting the bin bags in their green bins for the council to deal with, most gardeners see it as an opportunity to make good compost. The best time, therefore, to gather dead leaves is after it's been raining or, alternatively, if they're dry, you can give them a good soaking with a hosepipe before putting them into bin bags. Not only will they then be easier to gather up, the fact that they are wet means that they'll decompose more quickly. This will then become a good leaf mould source that acts as ideal mulch. Make a few air holes in the bin bag then store them away until the following summer and then they can be used as an ideal conditioner for your soil and can be immediately added to borders and plant and flower beds.

The same principles apply if you're using a vacuum. Keep a few bin bags handy then each time the vacuum becomes full, empty them in.

If you have a large variety of trees in your garden which shed their leaves each year, you'll notice how different leaves tend to decompose at different rates so if you're looking to use all the different varieties as compost, a combination vacuum and shredder might be beneficial as this will ensure that even the toughest leaves will be broken down at the same time.

Words of Caution

There are really only positives which come out of gathering leaves in the autumn. In addition to making good compost, it keeps your garden looking tidy and avoids any issues surrounding the leaves blowing onto your neighbour's driveway, car or even into their garden creating additional work for them. However, if you gather leaves up into a large pile, you should try not to leave them lying there for too long.

Animals such as hedgehogs, for example, would find a pile of leaves the ideal place to bed down in for a while and the hedgehogs could end up as compost too if you wait a while before collecting them into bags. Children also need to be careful. They can't be certain what's been thrown into the pile or what's fallen in or, indeed, what's crawled into a pile of leaves so they should be discouraged from playing near the pile. Dead leaves can also give off certain spores which can cause allergies with sufferers of asthma being affected the most so it's recommended that you gather up the leaves and store them safely away at the same time to avoid any risks.

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