Judith Lautner (judith) wrote,
Judith Lautner

somewhat guilty somewhat pleasure

I bought a leafblower several months ago. It is a combination blower-vac and was well-rated for home use. Electric, of course. I tried the vacuum function the day I bought it, and discovered why gardeners don't much like them or use them as often as I thought they should. The vacuum is pretty inefficient, didn't pick up very well. I became frustrated fairly quickly. I put the thing aside until today.

I usually am perfectly happy to sweep and rake the driveway. It's exercise and it's satisfying because I'm getting something done. But lately my leg is not wanting me to do this sort of thing much so I decided to try the blower today.

I set it on the lowest speed. Even at this speed, it is very powerful. The noise at this speed is about the same as a home vacuum, not bad. But I discovered it does take some skill to work it and not blow dust all over hell. I got a little better as I went at it and even blew the dust off my car when I was done. I finished up with a broom, because I couldn't blow it together precisely enough.

These blowers first came into fashion during the drought ten or more years ago. They still do a good job of replacing those water hoses for clearing driveways. They save a great deal of time over sweeping. It is understandable why people would not want to pay a gardener for a half hour or more of sweeping. They also have uses, like cleaning gutters, that are quite efficient. I have noticed (and confirmed) that an efficient gardener doesn't use a blower for very long on any one job, generally. The difficulty, the annoyance, seems to come mostly from the neighborhoods where everyone has a professional gardener and they are all out at once. Or staggered. So there are blowers going all day long.

I did a lot of research into this years ago and, being a practical realist, I came to the conclusion that they do have value, that they can be used responsibly, that the noise levels have lowered dramatically in the newer models, and that they are here to stay. Just as hedge trimmers, vacuums, lawn mowers...all these other power devices are. I did rather enjoy cleaning my driveway in a few minutes instead of an hour. Which doesn't mean I won't go back to sweeping when I'm up for it.

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