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Leaves: Blow or Rake?

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Leaf blowers vs rakes: which is better?

Often clients ask me whether I think a leaf blower is better than a rake. The reality is that answering the leaf blowers vs rakes question is complicated.

Comparing blowers to rakes is like comparing elephants to turnips. That being said, each has its benefits and its drawbacks. And both rakes and leaf blowers can be very useful as well. Also, if you have a leaf blower, you’ll still want a rake too!

Is a rake better than a leaf blower?

When is it better to use a rake instead of a blower?

In small residential garden situations, the leaf blower vs rake question always comes up. And the reality is that using a blower here may be overkill. That’s because in smaller spaces its easy to use a rake to clear leaves. And ideally, you’ll rake leaves only off of lawns and patios. That’s because heavy leaves on lawns may kill your grass. And leaves on paths and patios become slippery and potentially dangerous.

But leaves that fall into garden borders add nutrients and protection back into the soil. And you can move leaves from your patios and pathways into your garden beds using a rake.

When is a blower better than a rake?

Sometimes using a leaf blower can be better than using only a rake. While this might be an unpopular opinion, these might be instances when a leaf blower is a good gardening choice:

  • Are you working on a slippery slope?
  • Are you getting older or otherwise gardening with some disabilities?
  • Do your trees shed over the course of several months?
  • Is your garden really large with lots of trees?
  • Do you need to remove leaves from a lot of hardscape like decks, patios & pathways?

If you answered yes to any of the questions above, using a blower might be a first best start for you. That’s because they may help you keep up with lots of leaves that fall over and over again in large, forested spaces. And a leaf blower may mean you stay more safe.

But, you’ll likely want a rake as well. (So not a leaf blower vs rake situation, but starting with one tool and ending with another.)

Examples of when to use a leaf blower:

    1.  When my aging and frail mom lived alone, she experienced months of daily leaf drop. So, we were happy to know she used a leaf blower. That’s because she lived on a slippery slope, in a deciduous forest that shed leaves for months. Plus, she had a couple of decks and stairs that would fill with leaves over and over again. And we didn’t want her to slip and fall. Still, after she used her blower to deal with the dangerous areas, she would use a rake to mound all that goodness into a compost heap to benefit her garden later.
    2. When we purchased a couple of partially forested acres with a lot of gravel paths, it quickly became clear that we couldn’t keep up with raking. That’s because leaves began falling in early summer, and they continued falling well into mid-winter. So even if we were to rake everyday for hours, there was no way we could keep up with it all. So using a leaf blower as well as rakes made more sense.
Blowing leaves off gravel path

When using a leaf blower on gravel paths, take care to use low settings that don’t send gravel flying. Raking can work on gravel, but again, take care not to rake your gravel into your leaf piles.

What kind of leaf blower is best?

When choosing a leaf blower, there are several things to consider. These include price, noise, maintenance, functionality, weight, and size.

Gas powered leaf blowers: These are the really loud ones. And they can be heavy. Plus, they may require you to mix fuels. And they stink. Moreover, in many areas these are becoming illegal. So, we’d skip this option!

Electric leaf blowers: Electric blowers can either be battery powered or can be plugged in. While the battery powered ones may seem more expensive, keep in mind that the batteries are generally rechargeable. And those batteries may be interchangeable with other power tools. Plus, with a battery operated leaf blower, you won’t be restricted to a the length of a power cord. But, with battery operated tools, you may find yourself needing to recharge your battery a few times before you finish clearing very large gardens.

Using a leaf blower in a forest

When you have acres of forest that sheds leaves from summer through fall, a leaf blower really helps keep on top of all the work.

Backpack blowers or hand-held blowers: Hand-held blowers may be ideal for smaller spaces. But if you’re working in larger areas for longer amounts of time, you may want to consider a backpack option. These distribute the weight in ways that might not tire you out as quickly.

Is blowing leaves easier than raking?

May believe getting a leaf blower will make life easier. And that might be the case. In many of the situations detailed in this article, blowing leaves is a lot easier than raking them. For instance, when we have an acre of leaves that need to be moved, using a leaf blower is a lot easier than raking leaves!

But sometimes using a leaf blower is more frustrating than using a rake. That’s because a blower can’t always getting leaves out of tight spots where they get caught up. So in situations like using a rake is easier than blowing.

Our favorite leaf blower is…

EGO brand offers a light-weight backpack blower with a rechargeable lithium ion battery. So when we moved to our large, forested property, I invested in one. And we’ve been using it for several years now with very happy results. And, again, it isn’t a leaf blowers vs rake garden for us. That’s because we need a rake even with a blower.

(Garden Mentors paid for the Ego Power+ Backpack blower, and is not being compensated for these statements.)

Here’s what we like about this blower:

  • It takes just a couple of hours to recharge the battery.
  • It is mostly easy to assemble. I say mostly because the blower tubes one-time assembly require stronger hands than I have.
  • It’s easy to put on and to carry, but I wish the “on” trigger had a locking mechanism; it gets really exhausting to hold that thing on while you blow leaves for an hour or two. But, I did rig it into a locked position with a little DIY strap.
  • The manual recommended ear protection, but I find the machine is so quiet I don’t need ear protection.  (You probably should follow their recommendations tho, not mine.)
  • It will blow for a few hours at a time, if you use a low setting.  But, if you put it on high or use “turbo” often, it will run out of juice quickly and need to be recharged.
  • My back wasn’t tired or shaky and my weak hands weren’t aching after blowing leaves for a couple of hours two days in a row.

Want one of these leaf blowers for your garden?

Here’s the rechargeable leaf blower we’ve been using for years in case you want one too!

 

(Qualifying purchases made through affiliate &/or sponsored links on this page and others on this site pay a small percentage to Garden Mentors.)

*Don’t see the links, might be your browser blocks these ads

When are leaf blowers worse than rakes?

When we lived in the city, stinky, loud gas-powered leaf blowers drove us nuts. That’s because cheap, fly-by-night lawn companies seemed to constantly blow all sorts of crap throughout the neighborhood.

Lithium ion EgoPro Backpack Blower

Battery powered leaf blowers are less polluting than gas ones. They don’t emit fumes & are much more quiet. Plus, they now come in lightweight backpack models!

And many never pulled out a rake to gather and dispose of whatever they blew. So in the end, everything ended up in the adjacent neighbor’s property. Or, the leaves ended up in gutters. And that meant the gutters would clog and overflow later.

So if you’re going to use a blower, electric might be a more environmentally friendly option. And using a rake to finish the job is both good for your garden and also for your community.

Is a rake better than leaf blowers?

Rakes are key tools for any gardener. And even if you have a leaf blower, you’ll also want a rake! While some may say that raking leaves is a bad thing, there are times when moving leaves in your garden is actually a good idea. Remember, for instance, the tips about keeping them off lawns and hardscape for safety!

But, is a rake actually better than a leaf blower? For all of the aforementioned reasons, rakes aren’t better than leaf blowers. Rather, they’re different. And used appropriately, each has its purpose.

So to recap:

If you’re in a small garden setting with out loads of trees and safety concerns, a rake may be the best option for you. And it may be all that you need. But even if you’re gardening in a space where a leaf blower is appropriate, having a leaf rake as well is a good idea.

So it isn’t really a question of leaf blowers vs rakes!

It’s about which tools make the most sense for your space and your needs!

Want to learn more about making your best gardening tool choices? We’ve got lots of helpful lessons available!

Should you rake or leave the leaves?

We do advocate for leaving leaves where they fall when it is safe.

There are a few reasons for this:

  1. Leaves are free mulch for your garden, with all the benefits of mulch
  2. Many leaves may be hosting overwintering garden fauna like insect eggs that you want
  3. Moving leaves around, even if you keep them, may disrupt overwintering fauna

However, for the reasons detailed in this article (and likely others), sometimes raking or blowing leaves can be a good idea. And it might help keep you safe too.

So when you do rake or blow your leaves, always try to move them into a garden bed or composting system where the leaves can help support all of the life in your garden. Although moving them might disrupt some of the benefits, it might make the difference between slipping and not slipping.

Things that your rake will do better than your leaf blower include:

  • Scoop up piles so you don’t clog gutters and drains.
  • Move really stuck leaves that have gotten heavy such that blowers don’t work on them.
  • Mound up leaves into your compost.
  • Gently move leaves away from tender plants that don’t like to be buried.
a great rake vs leaf blowers

Whether you rake or blow, be sure to save your leaves for creating luscious compost!

 

(Qualifying purchases made through affiliate &/or sponsored links on this page and others on this site pay a small percentage to Garden Mentors.)

2 comments on “Leaves: Blow or Rake?

  1. gary axner on

    I think that blowers are not as much of a problem as the city when they come by with a gigantic vacuum and suck up all the leaves and, more importantly, all the acorns to feed the animals(read squirrels).

    axner

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