Checkout Lane: Leaf blowers do job with less elbow grease

Julie Onufrak

Brightly colored leaves are a beautiful sight to see – until they fall off the trees and start cluttering your lawn and driveway.

For those with an aversion to raking, leaf blowers can be a faster and easier way of getting rid of the leaves.

The first thing to consider is the size of the area you want to cover, which will help to determine whether you should get a gas or electric blower, said Jamie Averill, assistant manager of Rocky’s Ace Hardware in Pembroke, Mass.

“If you’ve got a big yard and you don’t want to lug a cord around, you’d probably go with gas,” he said. “If it’s a small area like a driveway close to the house, you can run an extension cord out for an electric blower.”

Gas also packs more power and handles wet leaves better, said Mark Vassalli, general manager of Curry Ace Hardware in New England. He said that he sells more gas blowers, which also tend to come with five-year warranties – as opposed to the 60- or 90-day warranties that come with some electric models.

Vassalli said that electric blowers can sell for as little as $40, whereas his most popular gas blower is $160. In the current economy, he expects more people to buy tools like leaf blowers that allow them to do their own yard work.

“They say, ‘You know what, I have the lawn service, but I might as well just invest $150 and do it myself,’” he said.

Other add-ons that can raise the price of a leaf blower are vacuum attachments that suck up leaves and can even turn them into mulch, allowing easier bagging, Averill said.

Vassalli said people shouldn’t forget to consider the weight of a blower as well as its power.

“You want a balanced blower and a lightweight blower, but you want the most power you can buy for that lightweight unit,” he said.

The Patriot Ledger


Electric handheld blowers: These are best for small-to-medium-sized properties where work takes place near an outlet and for those with less arm strength. It’s less noisy for neighbors. But the electric motor’s cord can be a hassle to maneuver and typically limits use to within 100 feet of an outlet. They cost about $30 to $100.

Gas-powered handheld blowers: These are best for small-to-medium-sized properties with obstacles or where some of your cleanup work is far from an outlet. But they’re pricier and heavier, and they require pull-starting and maintenance. Most are noisier than electric blowers, and they typically cost $80 to $220.

Gas-powered backpack blowers: These are good for properties one-half acre and larger with obstacles, and if you have less arm strength. Most provide added air power. But the issues are the same as for gas handheld models, plus a higher price and no vacuum mode. The cost is  $200 to $450.

Gas-powered wheeled blowers: These are good for properties that are one-half acre and larger where ultimate blowing power is needed. But they’re pricey, heavy, difficult to maneuver, and noisy. Most require about eight square feet of storage space. Prices range from $650 to $1,300.