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How to use a leaf blower and vacuum

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Using a leaf blower

Wonkee Donkee tip Try and avoid getting out the leaf blower in windy weather unless the wind is blowing at your back, in the same direction that you’re aiming for. And wait for a dry day – wet leaves are much heavier and more difficult for a blower to shift. Rainwater can also damage your machine and increase the risk of an electric shock.
Women cross at being woken up Blowers, particularly in vacuum mode, are extremely noisy machines, so be considerate towards your neighbours and choose an appropriate time to use your new toy.No-one likes being woken up at seven o’clock on a Sunday morning by an over-zealous gardener!
Tarpaulin with leaves scattered on it

Step 1 – Plan the job

Before you start, decide where you want the leaves to end up. If possible, place a tarpaulin or large plastic sheet in the designated spot, to make disposing of the leaves easier. Don’t forget to anchor it down with a few bricks or large stones.

Safety glasses, earplugs and ear defenders

Step 2 – Gear up

Make sure you’re wearing protective glasses – blowers can throw up a lot of dust and debris. And as they’re so noisy it’s a good idea to wear ear defenders or earplugs, especially if you’re using a petrol-driven machine or plan to work for a long period.

Blowing leaves across lawn

Step 3 – Get started

Hold the blower pointing downwards at a shallow angle just above the ground and slowly walk forward. Use a smooth back and forth motion to propel the leaves away from you.

Blowing leaves into a corner If you find it hard to control the direction of the leaves you could practise blowing them against a fence or wall first, which is easier than trying to make a pile out in the open.
Blowing leaves in one direction

Step 4 – Keep straight

Work methodically, moving in one direction only. This will help stop you blowing leaves into areas that you’ve already cleared.

Lawn rake with a few leaves Don’t expect miracles from your machine! It’s unlikely that you’ll be able to clear every last tiny leaf with it, unless you spend hours trying (and if you’re using a battery-powered blower, it’ll only last about 20 minutes anyway). Keep a lawn rake handy to finish off.
Folding up tarpaulin with leaves inside

Step 5 – Clear up

If you’ve been using a tarpaulin, you can simply fold it up to enclose the pile of leaves and drag it to your bin or compost heap. A slightly more laborious method is to pick up the leaves by hand using two pieces of board, before putting them into bags or a portable garden bin.

Blowing leaves from path onto lawn When clearing a path or driveway next to a lawn, you might prefer to blow the leaves on to the grass then go over it with a mower.This will partially shred the leaves and collect most of them in its grassbox, after which you can remove the last few with a rake.
Donkee - don't use blower near flowers

Using a blower vacuum

Adjusting shoulder strap for blower vac If your blower has a carry strap, adjust it so that the vacuum tube just clears the ground. This will help take the strain and make working more comfortable.
Using blower vac on gravel When collecting leaves from gravel or other loose surfaces try and hold the blower a little higher or reduce the speed, if your machine has that feature, so that stones and other unsuitable pieces of debris are less likely to get sucked up into the fan.
Leaf vacuum debris bag full of leaves Empty the collection bag at regular intervals, before it becomes too heavy. This also helps keep the suction level up, which will weaken the more leaves are collected. Putting extra strain on the bag will also make it more likely to split.And remember to empty the bag before you switch from vacuum to blower mode, or the contents may drop out.
Sign saying Dust Don’t use your blower vacuum to suck up large amounts of dust, gravel or soil, as particles could get into the motor and damage it.
Petrol-driven leaf blower If you’re using a petrol-powered blower, refill it before you start work. If it runs out of fuel during the task, turn it off and let the engine cool before refilling.Any petrol spilt on the blower should be wiped off before starting it up. And never start the blower within three metres (just under ten feet) of the refuelling spot, to avoid any danger of sparks causing a fire.