For millennia, tools have made our lives easier. Then came power tools. Shears were upgraded to hedge trimmers, rakes to leaf blowers. But how much of an upgrade are they? And are they worth the investment?
As an avid leaf blower user, and an editor of a site which is literally called LeafBlowerGuide.com, I get asked one question very, very often. In person, over the internet, through email and once even over the phone.
Why don’t you just use a rake?
Honestly, it is a perfectly fine question! Why waste money and fuel on a task which in the eyes of many, can be achieved satisfyingly with a rake? To answer this question, let’s take an objective look at a leaf blower and a rake, to compare once and for all which is better! (Though I won’t shy away from having some fun with the concept.)
Standing in the left corner, weighing roughly 4–6 pounds, is the rake!
While it looks quite thin and shabby, with a bit of leg work and arm work, it can do a pretty good job at clearing out your back yard – at least the grassy and gravelly parts of it. It costs almost nothing and may last a lifetime! It’s very quiet most of the time, and very intuitive to operate.
No buttons, nothing to pull, no spinning parts and with a dose of wild imagination, it can even double as a back scratcher!
Of course, unless you’re a pro athlete, you’ll have a tough time clearing out large lawns, and forget about using it on asphalt, or rocks, unless you and your neighbors are fans of obnoxious scratching noises. Roofs and gutters? Dream on, sunshine.
Us old timers may also be quite surprised how much our backs and elbows hurt the next day after an hour or two of some fine raking. But hey… it gets the job done. Unless you want to get rid of wet leaves or small debris.
- No fuel required
- Pretty intuitive
- Unlikely to break down (and easily replaceable if it does)
- Not suitable for large properties
- Can be physically demanding
- Doesn’t work well on all terrain
- Impossible to use on a roof or for gutters
- Can have trouble with wet leaves and will not work on small debris
A Leaf Blower
Standing in the right corner, weighing in at anywhere between 3 and 250 lbs, we have the Leaf Blower!
It comes in various sizes and designs; handheld, backpack, and even walk-behind. It can be powered by gasoline, or electricity (corded or battery-operated). No more physical labor! A blower gives you complete power over one of the most powerful of nature’s elements – the wind!
Blowers can effortlessly clear out your back yard, regardless of terrain. Even roofs and gutters don’t stand a chance. Wet leaves, dry leaves, even debris and puddles! Some models can even vacuum the leaves and mulch them down! I even wrote a list of 20 things a leaf blower can be useful for!
What is their downside? They can get pretty expensive and pretty fuel hungry. They may also be pretty loud, especially the powerful gasoline models. Some require a bit of skill to operate. They must be maintained and can be a hassle if they break down.
- Require no labor other than carrying from the user
- Can be used in any terrain, even for roofs and gutters
- They can also clear out debris, wet leaves and puddles (try getting rid of those with a rake)
- Offer vacuum and mulching option
- Can get quite heavy
- More expensive
- Must be fueled
- Some of the more sophisticated models may require a dose of technical skill to operate
Now, of course, I may be a bit biased. But then, so is everybody who asks me the question in the first place.
Simply put, a leaf blower is a great substitute for a rake, as it can do the same or even more, but with less effort. It has very few downsides if you consider what your time and physical condition are worth. For large properties and professional use, it’s a must.
However, I must admit that for people who have a small back yard with a tree or two… For folk who aren’t bothered with cleaning their roofs and gutters manually… For folk who are still young and can do so without much effort… rakes do the job well enough. Good for them, hope it lasts!
I’ll, however, stick to my guns, or blowers, to be precise. And you should maybe give them a chance as well.
And you? What are your reasons to prefer leaf blowers over rakes? Let us know in the comments below!