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Cleanup is an important part of most landscaping projects. Whether you're removing fallen leaves from the lawn or clearing grass clippings from a sidewalk or driveway, getting rid of landscape debris puts the finishing touch on your project. A blower can make cleanup quick and simple. The variety of types and features means you can find one that will meet your needs.
Electric blowers are great for smaller areas. They're lighter and quieter than gas models and start with the flip of a switch. Lighter-duty models are sometimes called sweepers. Electric blowers are either corded or cordless. If you plan to use a corded blower, make sure you have a suitable extension cord. Follow the device manufacturer's recommendations for compatible extension cords and see Power Cord Safety Tips.
Gas blowers deliver maximum mobility and convenience since they aren't restricted by a power cord or the available charge in a battery. These are suited for large areas and for frequent or prolonged use. Gas blowers function with a manual pull-start. Some models will crank with an optional, powered device that you purchase separately, eliminating the need for using the pull-cord.
Backpack blowers are gas blowers popular with landscape professionals because they provide comfort and power for extended use in large areas.
Walk-behind blowers are gas-powered, wheeled models suited for heavy, extended use or commercial applications.
Some blowers can convert to vacuums, allowing you to collect light landscape debris like small twigs or leaves in an attached bag. Blowers that convert to vacuum / mulchers not only vacuum up these debris, but also mulch them. These vacuum / mulchers grind up the debris, reducing multiple bags to a single bag, creating mulch for use around the yard or simplifying disposal.
In addition to traditional blowers, some models of electric and gas-powered equipment, such as shop vacuums and string trimmers, can convert for use as blowers.
Beyond vacuum and mulching capabilities, there are a number of specifications you can look for to help you select the best blower for the work you'll be doing.
2-cycle engines operate on a gasoline / oil mixture.
4-cycle engines eliminate the need for mixing oil and gas.
MPH and CFM are measurements that indicate the speed that air exits the unit (MPH, or miles per hour) and the total volume of air the unit moves (CFM, or cubic feet per minute). Blowers have both measurements and those with higher MPH and CFM ratings can move more debris further more quickly.
dBA (decibels) measures noise level. The lower the number, the quieter the blower will be.
Reduction ratios, such as 10:1 or 16:1, represent the number of bags of leaves a mulcher can reduce to one bag.
Speed settings allow you to control the airflow and movement of debris. Some blowers have variable speed controls, while others have fixed settings.
Run time is an indication of how long a cordless blower can run before you'll need to recharge the battery.
In addition to these specifications, also consider the weight of the blower. Weight can be especially important if you have a large work area. While more powerful models move a lot of debris quickly, they also tend to be heavier than those designed for smaller jobs, so look for the one that best suits your work.