The brisk air has begun to tickle the leaves, turning them brilliant colors and lighting up everywhere you look in shades of red, yellow and orange. But soon those beautiful leaves will be a carpet of brown tree-excrement molding in your yard and killing your grass, flowers and shrubs. It doesn't always have to be this way though. You don't have to spend hours collecting them, bagging them and dragging them to the curb. With the right kind of blower you might actually learn to love leaves. Here are our reasons why we're upgrading from a flimsy rake to a shiny new blower, vacuum & mulcher combo (BMV) and some great options for doing so.
Why We're Upgrading
1. Less time raking
Depending on the square footage of your yard and the number of trees hanging above it, the sheer amount of leaves to pick up can be staggering. The Forest Inventory and Analysis National Program
puts the average amount of leaves on a mature tree at around 200,000. A vacuum cuts right through the process. No raking into piles and no dragging those piles into bins or bags. A good BMV comes with a hose or bag attachment.
2. Easier on our backs
There are some great rakes out there, and even a blower is easer on your back than a rake because it takes less time, but a well-made BMV is much more efficient and thus means less strain. You don't even need to bend over.
3. Leaves make great mulch
When ground fine enough leaves make an excellent source of carbon for grass. They also don't tend to change the pH like pine straw and break down well so they make good mulch under shrubs or as a layer between soil and wood chips.
We looked for at least a 12:1 ratio of mulching, manageable weight and an effective bag or hose attachment. A 12:1 ratio or higher means the leaves are being effectively shredded and makes them more usable. A higher ratio means easier acceptance into the soil so decide based on your use. The weight obviously affects the ease of use and the back strain. All of these models are electric, which weigh less than gas — none listed are above 12 pounds. And the hose or bag attachment is one of the key time savers that make these better than the old-school method.
• Ryobi ZRRY42110 ($48.44 reconditioned)
• POSITEC WG500 WorxTriVac ($83.99)
• Remington Blower Vacuum with Shredder ($49.99)
• Earthwise BVM20010 ($59.99)
• Toro 51599 ($69.97)