Which to use, leaf blower or rake?

We must take a moment to honor those homeowners who have trees in their yard. Annually, homeowners endure the reproductive nature of trees that drop leaves, acorns and other seeds. In exchange, homeowners enjoy the beauty and shade provided by the tree. Mostly, we honor the homeowner for not cutting down the trees that are making our world a little bit greener. We cannot overlook the fact that trees provide homes to birds that help eradicate nasty bugs, and fallen twigs that make excellent crackling kindling for our fireplace. Dealing with stuff that falls from trees seems so insignificant when you consider all that trees give us.

When colder temperatures and autumn winds force changes in the tree's cycle, its leaves change into spectacular shades of red, gold, and yellow. The brilliantly colored leaves cling to the tree for a brief time before tumbling downward to land or wherever the breeze takes them. At some point in the history of mankind, it was decided that fallen trees leaves should be herded into a pile for disposal. But, how do we get the leaves wherever we want them to go?

Leaf rake

Leaf rake
A leaf rake has long, hooked tines made of metal, wood, or plastic attached to a metal or wood handle. The rake has evolved over the years as there are now ergonomic rakes with a bent handle to make raking easier on your back.

  • When you need to quickly remove leaves from an area, like before guests arrive at the front door, pulling out a trash bag and the leaf rake is an easy thing to do.
  • Raking leaves is great exercise. You get to (or may feel forced to) be outside, but that's a good thing. You can talk with neighbors, wave to passers-by, breath the crisp autumn air, and if you have children, playing is a pile of leaves is such fun!
  • No fuel other than that of your body is needed to make a rake perform.
  • If raking is performed improperly, it may cause back pain. You will need to wear gloves to avoid blisters.
  • Raking over gravel can be tedious as you may be raking gravel in addition to leaves.
Leaf blower

Leaf blower
A leaf blower is a hand-carried mechanical device, electric or gasoline powered, that is used by homeowners and landscapers to blow leaves and debris to a collection point.

  • You can easily blow leaves from on top and behind shrubbery, and off non-solid surfaces like mulch or gravel.
  • You can blow leaves into a pile faster than you can rake them.
  • The blower is good to use if you have a large yard and lots of trees in or near your yard. Plus, the leaf blower is the better choice for trees like a crepe myrtle, which has tiny leaves that can slip between the tines of a rake.
  • The feeling of power has to be rushing through the veins of the individual sporting a leaf blower. This tool is incredibly noisy. Anyone within a three block radius knows when a leaf blower is in use. If the operator is not using ear plugs, the deafening noise is may damage hearing.
  • The machine needs electricity or gasoline to operate. That means long extension cords, which are difficult to wind and unwind. With gasoline, you will need a specially designated container to transport the fuel from the gas station to your leaf blower.
Authors' choice

I believe in using the right tool for the job, and for me, that means a rake AND a leaf blower to rid the yard of those rapidly drying leaves. During the fall, when the leaves first start to flutter to the ground, I pull out the rake to collect and bag the leaves near the front and back doors. Although leaf rakes with foam cushioned handles are available, I prefer my wood handled rake and I wear gloves.

For the single, huge tulip tree in our side yard that sheds what seems like 52 million tons of leaves over the course of several weeks, a combination of the leaf blower and the lawnmower with bag is used. The blower pushes leaves from behind plantings close to the house and the lawn mower acts much like a vacuum cleaner, gobbling up the leaves.

Welcome autumn. Enjoy the beauty it brings. The snow will come soon.