No doubt about it, backyard leaf blowers are powerful players in the anti-social sweepstakes. Although they'll never be as good as ATVs at damaging land while abetting childhood obesity and shattering the public peace, pound for pound they're unbeatable for noise pollution, noxious emissions, and the erosion of ordinary civility.
On the other hand, there's also no doubt that raking is the yard work equivalent of ironing, possibly because it's equally taxing on the back. Even people who love gardening hate raking, even my friend and helper Kristi, a woman up for ANY outdoor task that doesn't involve chemicals or power tools.
So I shouldn't have been surprised when she looked at the leaf-covered Maine lawn, looked at me (I was holding 2 rakes), and said, "I wish you had a leaf sweeper."
Next thing you know, she'd gone home and gotten hers. Turns out the hand-powered leaf sweeper is the autumnal third way: a leaf-gathering machine that taxes neither the body nor the environment. It looks and works about like a lawn mower except that instead of blades it has brushes. Push it along and the brushes sweep leaves up and back into a collecting sling that holds about 7 cubic feet and is very easy to empty.
Kristi's is a 26-inch Agri-Fab, which sells for about $135. There are other, ostensibly sturdier, brands but differences -- except in price -- appear to be pretty minor.
Good Things about Hand-Powered Leaf Sweepers:
The Nothing is Perfect Part:
Just a bit of autumnal eye candy; the leaf sweeper is on view at the sales sites and is not a thing of beauty. Chrysanthemums like these are easy to grow, about which more next spring when it's time to order rooted cuttings.
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