Leaf blowing techniques/strategy
Everything I find on the net is in relation to buying the blower or just a basic rundown of
Start at the edges
Use a tarp
Use ear protection
I am looking more for something more along the lines of
Should the angled tip be facing down or up?
Does shaking the blower left or right or up and down help?
Is there any sort of technique for moving larger piles, IE start at the top, walk backwards first, etc, etc.....
I have 24K sqft backed up to woods. I typically blow from the edges to the center of the yard in to one huge pile, then blow sections of the pile off onto a tarp, drag to the edge of the woods and blow them into the woods to compost.
Angling the tip varies depending on the goal and wind direction. Tip down tends to remove stubborn debris (including mulch), but sends it into the air higher, succeptible to wind. It also tends to move less volume. Keeping the tip pointed parallel to the ground tends to move more volume and be more able to fight the forces of wind.
For large piles, I find the rake to often be the best solution. Use the rake only for the bulk of the pile. Use a blower for final cleanup. Better yet, don't wait for the pile to get so big before moving it to disposal location.
Don't worry about perfect. Good enough is good enough. Perfection only lasts a few minutes, anyway.
Wind can be your friend. Make sure that it is.
I find that moving a handheld blower left and right to be useful.
Moving big piles of leaves into the woods can be bad (depends on leaf quantity and area of woods). Deep piles of leaves can hold moisture around the base of trees, causing rot and, worst case, killing them. Besides wind tends to scatter piles of leaves back into the yard.
Mulching is a great technique. A mulching vacuum is money well spent. Blow leaves into piles. Vacuum/mulch the piles. Compost the mulched leaves. No sheets. No tarps. Wind does not tend to blow shredded leaves around. I have found a mulching vacuum to save time over the tarp method and I like the results better.
Get mulching blades for your mowers. Much of the early and late cleanup is best accomplished this way. Besides, it is good for your lawn. Use blowers and vacuums only when quantity exceeds mower capacity.
Thanks! Excellent info. I will heed all advice. I actually have mulching blades for my ride-on mower... I have been told by my gardening neighbor that the particular leaves that fall in our yards are terrible for the soil - too acidic I think - and he has taken to cleaning rather than mulching for the passed few years. It's probably a misnomer to call the area I put the leaves the "woods" it is actually a large area after the stones that line the back of my property and before the lines of trees begin.
I think one thing you said really resonates... I'm obsessed with blowing every last leave into the pile.. I really need to work on just good enough as you say, I've probably spent an aggregate of an hour or better on the isolated leaves.
I am not familiar with the kinds of tree that grow in your part of the country and your soil conditions. I understand that oaks and walnut leaves can be a bit acidic. In ohio, soil tends to be a little alkaline, so I find a bit of acid treatment from the leaves to be beneficial for my azalea, hydrangea, dogwood, and holly.
I acutally enjoy the fall season and living in the woods for many reasons. A few leaves on the ground is part of the charm for me. The smells and sounds are nice.
Cut your grass short for the winter and do not be too aggressive on the early clean-up. When you get a nice late November or September clean up with real tools (rake, broom and bags) to get everything that has not blown away. Your climate may be different, but fall clean up is nice as long as a toy blower is not running too close.
At my lake home (150 x 350' lot) with a lot of trees (white pine, oaks, maples, etc.) I just did not bother to upset nature and left the wild area go wild. On the clean area to the lake, I just let nature do its thing late, but felt guilty by upsetting the natural process, but I did for cosmetic purposes and applied chemicals the next spring.
It all depends on where you are and what you want. When you have a snow cover, everything is better and looks clean.
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