When the shortening days and the changing colors of the leaves on the trees announce the beginning of fall, thoughts turn to the hours you’ll be spending outside raking up seemingly endless piles of leaves – but there’s a better way.
By investing in a good leaf blower vacuum, you can power through the leaves in no time, keeping your yard tidy and saving you time for more important or more enjoyable activities. If this sounds like a good idea to you, here’s everything you need to know about how to use a leaf blower.
This video demonstrates some of the techniques we’ll be talking about.
How to use Leaf Blower Safety
When using any kind of power tool, safety should be your primary concern, and these machines are no different. Leaf blowers can kick up twigs, dirt and all kinds of other debris, and before you start using one, you need to take steps to protect yourself.
When using a leaf blower, make sure you are using the right protective equipment. For your eyes, you should wear a pair of proper safety goggles – wearing a pair of sunglasses or similar will not cut it!
Leaf blowers also make a lot of noise – gas leaf blower especially, but even cordless leaf blower too. Using one for extended periods can permanently damage your hearing, so you should make sure you always wear ear protection.
Other items that are perhaps not essential but are still highly recommended include a dust mask for your nose and mouth, tough work gloves and non-baggy clothing. Also, avoid wearing any jewelry or anything else that could be caught in the blower.
When to use a leaf blower
Choosing when to clear your leaves with a blower is important. Due to the extra weight of the water, wet leaves are much harder to shift than dry leaves, and piles of soggy leaves can be impossible to move with a blower. This means you should wait until leaves are dry.
Try to do your leaf clearing on a windless day. Trying to blow leaves into a pile on a windy day is like trying to herd cats.
If it’s not possible to wait for a perfectly calm day, at least try to do your leaf blowing when the wind is in the right direction. Blowing leaves against the wind is not a task you’re likely to enjoy much.
Finally, be considerate. Be aware that leaf blowers make a loud and irritating noise. Don’t do it too early in the morning when your neighbors are still asleep – and you might also not want to do it when your neighbor is enjoying the last of the fine weather with a book in their yard.
Steps to use a leaf blower
Here are the steps to follow when you are ready to start clearing those leaves.
Step 1. Choose where you want them to go
Before you start, you should decide where you want your final pile of leaves to go. This will allow you to work methodically and systematically toward that end.
If you are planning to collect the leaves up after, you can also place a tarp on the ground where you want to blow the leaves to make picking them all up at the end a lot easier.
If you have a large area to cover and lots of leaves to deal with, you might also consider making multiple leaf piles.
Step 2. Start with hedges and buildings
When you start blowing, clear leaves from under hedges and along the edges of buildings first. Once all the leaves are out in the open, you can start working them all towards your designated target area.
When working in straight lines along linear features, use a gentle U-shaped sweeping motion with the blower to shift the maximum amount of leaves.
Step 3. Work sideways
If you just plough into a large area of leaves trying to blow them forwards, you will only succeed in clearing a path through the leaves by blowing them to the side.
The correct way to do it is to work sideways, walking up and down in lines perpendicular to the direction you want to blow the leaves. If you can’t picture this, check out the link to the video we posted above.
By working in this way, you will gradually move the mass of leaves in the desired direction.
Step 4. Work around the leaves to create a pile
When the leaves are roughly in the area where you want them, begin working around the outside of the leaves in a circle to begin blowing them to your designated target area. Continue working methodically to gather all the leaves up into one big pile.
Five tips for leaf blowing
Here are a few other tips that will help you clear your leaves more efficiently.
1. Hold the blower at a shallow angle
Holding the tool at a shallow angle will allow you to move more leaves with each sweep.
2. Use smooth, broad sweeps
When working on large areas of leaves, use broad, slow, smooth sweeps rather than fast and erratic movements. This will help ensure you move as many of the leaves as possible and that they will all be traveling in the direction you intended.
3. Don’t try to blast every single leaf
If you try to get every last leaf with your blower, you will drive yourself crazy. Leaf blowers are designed to shift leaves in bulk, not for moving individual leaves.
Once you have finished the main bulk of the work with the blower, you can take care of the details with a quick rake or even by picking up any last leaves by hand.
4. Choose the right model
There are many different types of leaf blower, including backpack leaf blower, which are good for heavy-duty jobs, and walk behind leaf blower, which are better if you don’t have the strength to carry another type. Make sure you choose the most suitable one for your needs.
5. Use the vacuum feature for small, inaccessible areas
Some leaf blowers also allow you to vacuum up leaves. This mode is best employed to deal with smaller, more inaccessible areas – although if your machine has good mulching capabilities, you can also use it to suck up and bag large quantities of leaves.
A super-handy tool – if you know how to use it right
A leaf blower can save you a whole lot of hard work, but if you don’t know how to use it, you can create more mess in your yard than when you started. If you are a leaf-blowing novice wondering where to begin, simply follow our advice and you will master these techniques in no time.
My name is Peter Weeks, Writer of The Daily Gardener. Gardening has always been my passion, nothing gives me quite the satisfaction that feeling the soil sift through my fingers does. Give me a spade, a shovel, and a rake, and I can happily while away the day transforming a patch of land into a beautiful oasis. To me, gardening is life. It’s not a career. It’s not a job. It’s something that I truly love doing. It’s a way of life, a passion that I’ve no intention of ever giving up.