Fall is the official season of complaining about too-early retail holiday displays - I heard ‘doorbuster’ on Labor Day - but if you have trees and you don’t have a lawn service, then you have work coming up and need tools to do it.
One of the main tools, and signature sound of autumn in leaf country, is the din of the landscaper’s backpack blower.
A blower isn’t just an autumn, or even purely landscaping tool, and if you’re looking into buying one, here are a few tips.
What to Look for?
The main thing I use my blower for is after mowing the grass. Even mulching mowers leave clippings on walks and driveways and the fastest way to clean surfaces is to blow the grass back into the lawn where they belong.
So, if you’re standing at the mountain of boxes looking at piles of blowers in the Big Box store (or digital pile online), the first thing to look for is the blower’s air volume or CFM (cubic feet per minute). All other things being equal, how much air comes out of the nozzle is the big point of comparison for me.
Put a different way, don’t be fooled. What I mean is: A backpack blower (the set-up landscapers use) isn’t necessarily more powerful than a handheld unit. It might look it, but just because it’s on a backpack doesn’t mean it moves any more air. But it might cost more money for the other things it does.
If you want to spend more money, a backpack unit is easier to operate for long periods of time, no matter how much air comes out of it, and its long nozzle is ideal for leaves. A backpack is a little more difficult to store than a handheld. In other words, there are trade-offs.
If your situation is more like mine…I have few leaf droppers in my yard, which I can mostly manage with regular autumn mowing, so a handheld unit works for me. Plus, it’s easier to store and simpler to use in tight spaces like between a fence and a playset for example. It’s also the ideal tool to clean up anything from grass clippings and sawdust to snow.
The unit I’ve been using is DeWalt’s 40-volt max DCBL790. For the brand’s early foray into outdoor power equipment, they did (and I am not surprised) a nice job designing this.
One of the first details I noticed is that, when used lefty, the suction fan doesn’t suck my pants off my leg, slowing the unit (and me) down. Board shorts, sure. Pants, no. Lower cost units do this and it is a pain.
Are Cordless Lawn Care Tools Worth It?
So far, with the larger battery platforms (DeWalt 40-volt Max and Worx 56-volt lawn mower), I’m impressed.
But back to the blower. It easily manages grass clippings and it does it quietly. The fan makes noise, but it’s a fraction (maybe 60%) of a gasoline-powered unit. And then there’s the no gasoline thing, which is really, really good. A point here: The DeWalt unit is pricier up front than a basic gas unit. But there are savings in NOT having to run to the gas station, spark plugs, gasoline stabilizer and other maintenance gasoline requires.
The trade-off is that I need a fully charged battery to blow my entire lawn mowing mess. Still, it can run for about 30 minutes at full tilt, which is ample time. I can also use it to blow away sawdust after a home improvement project. And I don’t end up yanking cords or smelling like exhaust. Love that.
It also managed chainsaw chips, twigs and leaves remaining from a tree I took down. If you’re on the fence about buying it for general use, I’m impressed with the power and runtime.
I also like the base. There’s no way I can hold a blower in one hand (they’re designed to be held righty) for my entire lawn, so I switch up how I hold the unit and the DeWalt has plenty of grab points. Very nice.
Use It In the Winter
Landscape nut that I am, I use my blower less in the winter. But I still use it for removing snow. When a few inches of light powder falls, it can be faster to just blow it off the walks than to shovel it. Powdery snow is just wet dust, really. And this is a time and back saver. In cold weather, make sure the battery is warm. If your shed or garage is unheated, you may find the batteries not up to full power.
Getting into full leaf clean-ups, this tool doesn’t pack the go-juice of a full-dress all-pro landscaper’s backpack. And it’s not designed to. It can move some leaves to be sure, but your acre of oaks and maples still needs a full-sized unit. However, the DeWalt 40-volt max puts out ample air and is easily competitive with comparable gasoline units.