Consumer Reports: Man Vs. Leaf Blower

Consumer Reports wanted to know if leaf blowers were really worth the money and ear damage, so they marked off a parts of lawn, filled it with leaves and had the ultimate man vs. blower showdown.

Anyone who has ever had to rake a lawn can immediately tell you who won, but it’s still a cute video. They’ve also got some fall cleanup tips.


Man Vs. Machine
[Consumer Reports]

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  1. catskyfire says:

    I just bought a plug in leaf blower/leaf vac. Blowers only go so far. Blower + lawn mower is good. (Our lawn mower has a mulcher so it sucks up and shreds the leaves.) I favor the leaf vac (with shredder) for those areas where the lawn more just doesn’t work. (Rock driveway, porches. Sucking leaves straight from bushes).

  2. XianZomby says:

    So I read the linked Consumer Reports piece:

    “Don’t leave too many leaves on your yard … you might as well send an open invitation to mice and other vermin … mice … are also carriers of Lyme disease … and hantavirus.”

    Are you f***ing kidding me? Did Consumer Reports just tell me if I don’t rake my lawn I’ll get the hantavirus? Because it sounds that way to me.

  3. RvLeshrac says:

    Blowers just move the leaves around. You still have to bag them or get them into a compost area either way.

    Best solution is always just to get a mulching mower and, as catskyfire said, a lawn vac.

  4. SOhp101 says:

    The reason why gardeners use leaf blowers isn’t the time, it’s the physical labor involved.

    @xianzomby: It’s a bit of a stretch but having lots of unraked leaves does invite more critters to live in your lawn.

  5. ShadowFalls says:

    Why leaf blowers? Why don’t you just have a large vacuum that sucks them into a garbage bag? Seems like it would save most of the trouble.

  6. Maude Buttons says:

    Leaf blowers just seem incredibly passive aggressive to me: “Here, have some leaves from my lawn I can’t be bothered to pick up or bag myself. No, no — don’t thank me.”

  7. HOP says:

    i juist run over ‘em wikth the lawn mower….i haven’t got the plague….yet………..

  8. donnie5 says:

    Did Megan really just say it was a “cute” video?

  9. darious says:

    @xianzomby:
    The safety nazis possibly laying the groundwork (no pun intended) for the next round of lawsuits?

  10. catnapped says:

    @Maude Buttons: Exactly! Just blow em onto the neighbor’s lawn then point and laugh whenever he/she has to rake them up.

  11. qmsterling says:

    Leaf blowers are so good for the environment, too.

  12. homerjay says:

    A LOT of people out in the burbs have SOME wooded area around their house that they just blow the leaves into. For everyone else they typically blow them into a pile and then use a HUGE vac-u-suck that is mounted on the truck to suck them into the back. Its both a back and time saver.

  13. ElizabethD says:

    I hate those blowers. Noise pollution to the max. Not so much control over where leaves go, either. In our previous neighborhood, the next-door neighbor’s landscapers would routinely blow leaves and debris into our border garden and driveway. “Oops.”
    >:-(

    Raking is tedious but has a nice rhythm to it, and the workout is healthy. I guess I’m just an old-fashioned girl.

  14. Hedgy2136 says:

    I only use my blower to clear the driveway, walkway and patios. Everything else gets handled my my mower/mulcher.

  15. scampy says:

    I just love how people are so vain about their lawns that they have to be leaf free. Just run over the dang leaves with the mower when you mow the grass. It cuts them into small enough pieces and I dont have to hear those extremely loud and annoying blowers. If you absolutely insist on a leaf free lawn then rake them and as a side benefit you even get some exercise, instead of taking the lazy way out

  16. FREAKHEAD says:

    Does anyone notice that we go out of our way to be lazy. Riding lawn mowers, leaf blowers, paint sprayers, etc. Then we pay $70 to go to the gym to stay in shape?

    It’s all in Karate Kid people, its the key to fitness. ;)

    btw, I hate leaf blowers, they are obnoxious.

  17. DallasDMD says:

    @scampy: Not to mention the pollution. I gag every time I walk to class while they’re doing the weekly mow and blow.

  18. anatak says:

    @donnie5: Yes. She’s a girl. Girls sometimes describe things a being ‘cute’. One day maybe you’ll meet one in person.

  19. Canadian Impostor says:

    My stupid neighbors mow their lawn every Saturday morning. It’s November and I live in Connecticut. I hope they get a hand caught in the blade or something.

  20. hubris says:

    I just bought an electric leaf blower (so much less noise than a gas one…like a loud hair dryer), and not only is it one hell of a time saver, it’s kind of fun. Plus, we have woods behind our house, so it all goes back there.

    Also, foe everyone talking about the gym versus raking…it takes six hours or so to rake our lawn, versus 2 to leaf blow it. So I save four hours. In one of those hours I can get a much better workout at the gym. If you think about it, raking doesn’t really do much other than work muscles…unless you speed rake it isn’t doing much for cardio. I’d rather have three extra hours.

  21. zibby says:

    Hey, why get some exercise when you can wave a big noisy dick substitute around? The choice is clear.

  22. leastcmplicated says:

    I actually enjoy raking, its chilly out, I get exercise, it’s not noisy or a pollutant, and it makes me feel good about my yard. I don’t need to mow anymore, its getting to cold here and my grass has started hibernation

  23. Nytmare says:

    Why do manufacturers refuse to muffle small engines?

  24. WindowSeat says:

    I’ve got an electric leaf vacuum,I rake all my leaves into a line and then suck them up with the vacuum, which mulches them and deposits them into a garbage can.

    Mulched leaves are then mixed with the grass clippings I’ve saved all season, watered and covered with tarps. Six months later, the tars are removed, the pile is turned and two or three months later I have about a ton of compost which goes onto the vegetable garden.

  25. kimsama says:

    My parents have 5 acres and left most of it forest so that there’s only a little to mow. They don’t rake, which used to embarrass me as a kid, but now I get why they just used the mower (push) to chop up the leaves and redistribute — no fertilizer needed, because the leaf pieces do it. Plus, I kinda like that they don’t give a damn about what the lawn looks like — only that the grass is healthy — and they don’t use a lot of nitrogen or gasoline to maintain it.

    P.S. I don’t have a lawn, so I’m relegated to talking about someone else’s. Sad.

  26. ancientsociety says:

    I HATE leaf-blowers!!! Another useless gadget causing noise and air pollution and using more non-renewable resources to do it. People pay good money for this?

    Here’s an idea – buy a $5 rake. No noise/air pollution, no upkeep cost, a built-in workout, and the ability to enjoy the outdoors without hearing that god-awful buzzing noise.

  27. kimsama says:

    @zibby: Brilliant comment of the day. This could be like a metaphor for everything.

  28. Toast442 says:

    The thing that really sucks about blowers is that the leaves have to be relatively dry for them to work efficiently. If the leaves are the slightest bit wet and tend to stick, you end up dragging out the rake anyhow.

    I’d also like to show that video to my neighbor who somehow can take three hours with his noise box to clear an area not much larger than that in the video. Most of the time he looks like he’s pushing a single leaf around.

  29. sandwich_pants says:

    A leaf blower works great in my community where I can fairly haphazardly blow the leaves onto the curb where they will eventually be picked up by trucks with giant vacuums. It seems like for light amounts of leaves, I can clear the yard a lot faster with the blower, but if they’re thick, the blower fails. My solution is to rake, or even use a pushbroom to shove the leaves into the street when the piles get thick, and then go back to the large area efficiency of the blower.
    I also find that using a TV box is a great way to carry leaves from the back yard to the front curb, much easier than a tarp.

  30. tadowguy says:

    There’s only one area where the leaf blower wins IMHO, the rocky area I have by my driveway. There’s no way to get leaves out of there with a rake, you end up with rocks too.

    Other than that, I find them to be irritating noise pollution.

  31. savvy999 says:

    Rakes all the way for me.

    Rake for 3 hours on a Saturday, then I have something to do in church on Sunday– play with all the blisters.

  32. OldSpinDoc says:

    OK, so we’re all supposed to be worried about our carbon footprints, along with air and noise pollution.

    I’ll bet we’d all go along way in this regard if we banned leaf blowers.

    They’re noisy, blow-out hydrocarbons with as much enthusiasm as they do leaves, raise and distribute copious amounts of dust, and do nothing to actually increase our health through good’ol exercise.

    At least when you’re raking, you can have a conversation with your neighbor. Try that while blowing leaves all over hell…

  33. veterandem says:

    @xianzomby:

    Unless you live in the Four Corners area of Colorado, Utah, NM and Arizona, you’re unlikely to get exposure to hanta virus (it’s only endemic to that area). As far as Lyme disease, you’re more likely to get that from deer ticks than fleas from a rat (plague is a more likely scenario, but there are only a few specific fleas that carry it, e.g., X. Cheopis). So rake your lawn or not, there are far worse things than disease, such as HOA!!!!!!!!11

  34. Mary says:

    It’s funny, if leaf blowers are such a time and labor saver…then why do four men with the things descend on the church next to my place for three hours to blog a handful of leaves off what little yard they have?

    Not to mention that leaving leaves on your lawn (not a ton, but some) help the grass. There was a lawn at my college that they were constantly fighting how it died every year, and yet they couldn’t grasp that maybe the men who blew the leaves off of it every other day at 8 a.m. were part of the issue.

    I just hate the sounds of the things. Even if I had a yard, I wouldn’t get one.

  35. grizzman says:

    I heard that someday soon, we’ll be able to just sit in a chair and eat/work/crap/sleep without moving a muscle. I can’t wait.

  36. CrazyRedd says:

    @Grizzman: Go away, I’m ‘batin!

  37. DearEditor says:

    The California Air Resources Board issued a report, back in 2000, reporting on leaf blowers:

    [www.arb.ca.gov]

    In this report, the writers calculated that operating a leaf blower for 30 minutes generated the same emissions as driving a car, at 30mph, for 7,700 miles.

    My rake has a warning label: “CAUTION! May cause fatigue or drowsyness…”

  38. sandwich_pants says:

    The emissions cited in the CARB report of leaf blowers are emissions deemed to contribute to respiratory problems and smog and such. That doesn’t include the CO2 emissions, just to clarify the statements they’re making for those who don’t read such things in detail.
    The small, simple, carburated engines in things like lawnmowers and leaf blowers have no smart control over fuel burning or treatment of exhaust (since that would be laughably expensive), and thus they have very dirty, stinky exhaust full of nasty things like unburned fuel.
    This is why my leaf blower is electric, and my mower is purely mechanical.

  39. Kishi says:

    John Henry was a leaf-raking man….

  40. Myron says:

    @zibby: I suppose you walk everywhere instead of using a car and wash all your clothes by hand.

    A leaf blower is a tool that allows work to be done with less effort. This simple point is clearly illustrated by the Consumer Reports video.

  41. lyndyn29 says:

    @veterandem: Well, that may (or may not) have been true fifteen years ago, but it’s certainly not anymore. See this and this. This, with pictures. Also this! Short version:

    Within the United States, cases of HPS have occured in at least thirty of the southern 48 states.

    Outside of the continental United States, cases of HPS have occurred in the following countries: Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Paraguay, and Uraguay.

    However, HPS carrier rodents can also be found in Bolivia, Costa Rica and Mexico, but have not yet been linked to any incidents of the disease.

  42. zibby says:

    @Myron: Ha! So I guess you have a leaf blower then? Sorry man. It was just a goof.

    Sure I use a washing machine for my clothes. It performs a necessary function and doesn’t inconvenience others. The same can’t be said for a leaf blower in either case.

    The car thing is tricky. I don’t own one. I don’t often even ride in one. I do walk a lot, but I use public transportation for the rest. Once again, however, going to job = necessary. Riding the subway = little problem for others. Leaf free yard = nice, but not vital. Leaf blower = annoyance imposed on your community/neighbors.

    Not a personal thing either, as they really aren’t used in my area.

  43. karmaghost says:

    My neighbor’s back home use their leaf blowers for everything and usually use it at 8am on a Saturday morning. If not, it’s usually around dinner time during the summer when we’re sitting outside eating on the patio.