16/12/2013

Buyers guide to garden vacuums and leaf blowers

Keeping your lawn clear of leaves and debris in the autumn not only keeps your garden looking tidy, but it also helps to keep it healthy too. Removing debris from the lawn allows the grass to breathe, as it can absorb more sunlight and grow.

Removing all the leaves and debris can be very time consuming and require a lot of hard work when doing it all by hand, especially if there are lots of trees. In order to avoid all the hassle and effort involved, many people have turned to garden vacuums and leaf blowers to help. Not only do they reduce the time taken to collect all the leaves and debris, but they also reduce the physical effects such as a sore back from bending over. 

Things to consider when buying a garden vacuum / blower 

There are a variety of garden vacuums and blowers on the market to choose from. These are either operated by electricity, like those in the Flymo range or by petrol like those offered by McCulloch.
The type you require will be determined by a number of factors.

These include; 

1. Garden size: If you have a large garden, you may not be able to reach the far end with an extension lead. If this is the case you will require a petrol garden vacuum or blower. For small gardens electric garden vacuums and blowers are suitable. 

2. Power: Related to garden size, but the power of the machine will also have an effect on the size and type of garden debris that you can collect. A more powerful machine will collect, or move larger pieces of debris and clean your garden more thoroughly. If you have a larger garden you will require a more powerful garden vacuum or blower. Using a machine with insufficient power for prolonged periods will cause the motor to burn out. 

What to look for in a leaf blower? 

Leaf blowers are handheld devices and are generally lighter than garden vacuums. Leaf blowers are used to collect garden debris like tree leaves, fur cones etc. into one place, which are then picked up and put in bins or on the compost heap. 

What to look for in a garden vacuum? 

Due to their nature garden vacuums tend to be heavier than leaf blowers as they have more parts like collection bags etc. however they do reduce the need to bend over and pick up the leaves. 

Most garden vacuums are now multi-purpose and also include a leaf blower. These are called Blower-Vacs, however the cheap models will not include this function. 

Garden vacuums can get quite heavy as the collection bag fills up. Many garden vacuums now include a wheel or one can be purchased allowing you to guide your vacuum around the garden with ease. It is also recommended that you buy a garden vacuum that comes with a strap. This will reduce the strain on your arms and shoulders when carrying the garden vacuum around. 

The best garden vacuums will shred the leaves or garden material as it enters the vacuums collection bag. This allows more material to be collected limiting the number of times you have to empty the collection bag. Plus the content is pre-cut ready for your compost heap. 

One key feature to look for is the shredding ration of the garden vacuum. A higher shredding ratio will shred the material finer allowing more material to be collected in the collection bag, reducing the number of times you need to empty the bag. 

The last thing you need to consider is the type of fan system of your garden vac-blower you wish to buy.
There are two main types. You can either buy a ‘clean fan’ or ‘dirty fan’ system. 

A clean fan system houses the fan within the vacuum separately from where the debris is sucked in. This prevents the fan getting clogged and removes the need for you to clean it. 

A dirty fan system is where the fan shreds the debris as it is vacuumed into the machine. This can sometimes cause the fan to get clogged after prolonged used and will require cleaning by the user. When looking to buy a dirty fan garden vacuum, you should check that the machine offers easy access to the fan to enable you to clean the machine. 

Garden vacuum / blower safety 

Both garden blowers and vacuums can be quite noisy. It is recommended that you wear a pair of ear protectors when using them. If picking up garden debris by hand, you should also consider wearing a pair of garden gloves.

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