When it comes to fall cleanup, the debate between using a rake or using a leaf blower is a heated one. While some prefer the ease of using a push or backpack blower, others swear allegiance to the almighty rake. There’s clearly a lot of personal preference involved here, and if you’re still trying to decide which is best for you, here are some factors to consider before you make a purchase this autumn:
To Spend or Not to Spend
The most obvious difference between raking and blowing is the mere cost of each. Clearly a rake is less expensive, costing somewhere around $10–$15 while an electric blower can run you $50–$100 and gas between $100–$500. If you’re on a tight budget, you may have your answer already. But if you have some money to spend, there are still options for you.
Give a Hoot
While both gas and electric blowers have their obvious negative impact on the environment, you’ll also want to take noise pollution into consideration. States, counties and even specific towns may have noise ordinances that prohibit the use of leaf blowers during certain hours of day, or entirely. You’ll also want to think about your neighbors here. A noisy blower is a sure way to irritate someone who has to listen to it all day, especially if you have to do your yard work before or after business hours. While gas leaf blowers are the loudest, even an electric leaf blower can make enough noise to wake the neighbors.
Built for Speed
So far cost and environmental issues have been considered, but where blowers truly shine is in speed and convenience. Most blowers are capable of wind speeds from 100 to 150 mph. When it boils down to it, they’re simply faster than raking. They also have the benefit of being able to reach in between plants and bushes where raking might be awkward, making the job downright more effective. They can also move finer leaves and small debris that would fall between the tines of a rake.
A Rake a Day Keeps the Doctor Away?
Rakes offer a double-edged sword in terms of health. There’s no doubt that raking and bagging leaves gets the blood flowing, your heart pumping, and is a great aerobic workout. You’ll burn far more calories raking than blowing, but lower back problems can be common with this type of yard work. It’s important to consider the stress on your body when heading out to the yard for a day of raking, as well as selecting the correct tool to use. Wider 36″ rakes require more downward pressure so, although they may cover more area per stroke, a smaller 24″ rake may actually be a better choice; there are also ergonomic rakes with a specially designed handle to reduce bending over. Select a rake that fits your height and strength level and be sure to drink plenty of water, taking breaks as needed, even in the cooler weather.
Choosing between a rake and leaf blower can be a tough call. Rakes are inexpensive, quiet, environmentally friendly, and can give you some exercise. But on the other side of the coin, a blower gives you a wide range of options, is faster and gets into those hard to reach areas. When selecting a rake or blower, the size of your yard, its features and especially your health are all considerations you’ll need to take account for before you make your final decision.
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Erich Reichert has been an editor and on-air personality in the radio control car hobby for 12 years. A certified car nut since birth, he has written for internationally published titles such as RC Car Action, RC Driver and Xtreme RC Cars, as well as Stuff Magazine, Road and Track and Super Street. He's covered everything from product reviews and tech articles to high-profile lifestyle pieces and celebrity interviews. Erich found his passion for writing after a successful career as an art director, working with brands such as Pepsico, NASCAR, MTV, Nintendo, WWE, Cannondale Bicycles and HBO. He's also a father, an avid hockey fan and an FIA race license holder who enjoys hiking, playing drums and movies.