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Leaf blow/vac/shredder advice please

Posted by rott (My Page) on
Sat, Aug 11, 12 at 17:42

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I saw one of those leaf blower/vacuum/shredder things at Sears for $50.

I've got a small yard with a bunch of avocado leaves to clean up on a regular basis.

How well do these things really work? Anyone had any success or problems using them?

Any advice welcome.

Thanks in advance
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Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Leaf blow/vac/shredder advice please

Really inexpensive toys like that will not last very long, but on the other hand really expensive toys like that are a waste of money. I have a 10 year old blower/vac that I paid around $125.00 for that still works while a friend has had 4 of those like you saw in the same time frame.


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RE: Leaf blow/vac/shredder advice please

I had one (cheaper blower/vac from Sear's) quite a few years ago when I gardened in No. Indiana and had many, many Maple trees with all their leaves. It was simply not up to the job and was continually getting plugged up . . . very frustrating.

Then I bought a larger, more expensive shredder. I worked better, but still took a great deal of time.

Finally, I resorted to chopping the leaves where they lay on the grass with the lawn mower. Occasionally I raked them afterwards and put them in the compost pile, but not always.

That worked the best . . . don't let the leaf layer get too thick . . . run the mower over a few times, and you've got mulch or compost, whichever you prefer.


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RE: Leaf blow/vac/shredder advice please

I used mine the first year once or twice. But the chipper/shredder was way more efficient. After the motor went out on it, I just ran over the leaves two or three times with the lawn mower. Still doing that five years later.

Keep an eye out for used gas powered shredders, they can be a good deal. None of them are perfect, but if you have the need, they are the only way to go.


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RE: Leaf blow/vac/shredder advice please

Save your money. The blower part of the unit works well, not the rest. Clogging, as mentioned - PLASTIC blades! I'll never understand that.


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RE: Leaf blow/vac/shredder advice please

Yeah, I would not buy one of these with plastic impeller blades. Metal only. Also, try to avoid sucking up durable things like twigs, nuts, rocks, bark mulch, etc. because that will wear it out a lot faster.

But they will chop up leaves. If your yard is small and you're doing this regularly, as opposed to a big yard with a huge amount once a year, it may work just fine for you.

My mom bought one last year for a bit more (I'm thinking $60 or so) with a metal impeller.


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RE: Leaf blow/vac/shredder advice please

Mine's a Black and Decker Vortx Supervac/shredder that I was given at a yard sale (yes, GIVEN!) It's electric, and except for coming unplugged from time to time has served me well for about 5 years!
I go to the neighbors and suck up all of their leaves and store them for later when I need more browns.I lost my own lovely Chinese elm 4 years ago to Dutch Elm disease! That tree was the reason I started composting! Way too many leaves! Nancy


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RE: Leaf blow/vac/shredder advice please

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Thanks folks. I'm definitely small time right now. I'm renting a cottage with a mow and blow guy that comes once every other week. I got him raking the leaves onto the grass, such as it is, and then mowing it all up for me but it's once every other week and I'm in this weekly unload the kitchen scraps routine. Keeping kitchen scraps for two weeks doesn't seem plausible in this dinky place. The barrel of putrefying grass clippings and leaves isn't attractive either. The barrels of leaves are fine but hey aren't drying out down here by the beach like I'm used to. Even if they do dry out, crunching dried leaves by hand is still a lot of work.

I haven't got a lot of storage space so I thought I could fit an electric blow/vac thing somewhere. I need the mulching action really. I was looking at gas shredders and saw some good deals on Sears units but I've got no where to put the big bulky thing. I'll correct the space issues in the long run but in the meantime I need to shred those big ol' slow rotting avocado leaves somehow.

I'm looking at a used Kellog Eco 1600 for $100 and I'm thinking I can just rake the leaves weekly and maybe have some grass clipping mulch for the coffee grounds I've been mulching. Grass clippings on coffee grounds is just a beautiful thing.

I guess I could go either way at this moment.

The metal vs plastic business is that key bit of information that makes all the difference.

Thanks so much.
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RE: Leaf blow/vac/shredder advice please

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Sorry to hear about the Chinese Elm. I had one of those. A whole bunch of small leaves the mower seemed to leave largely behind. I always had leaves on the lawn but they never seemed to build up. Wonderful shade tree. A lot of work to maintain.
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RE: Leaf blow/vac/shredder advice please

I have a leaf blower/vacuum that I got from a big box store. Not the smallest, but not the biggest either. And it does have plastic impeller blades. I only use it a few times a year for leaves in the fall, and it works just fine. The only problem I every have is when the chute blocks up with leaves and little branches. Turn it off, bang it a little, it clears right out. I've had it for about 8 years with no problem. If I was going to use one for a living, I'd get a mungo sized blower, but 2-4 times per year would be a waste of money.


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RE: Leaf blow/vac/shredder advice please

We have many large oaks in our yard and the leaf vac is invaluable for clearing fall leaves from the gardens. The mower does a better job of chopping in the lawn but I can't mow inside the gardens. We had to replace our plastic blade assembly because of sucking up twigs though.


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RE: Leaf blow/vac/shredder advice please

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Well I ended up getting the eco shredder - a big 14 amp garbage disposal. The guy in Craigslist got back to me before I went hunting around for a blow/vac with a metal impeller.

The first thing I did was remove the top because the little egress provided there just wasn't going to work with large avocado leaves. I could slowly pour leaves into the now open top but it was a breezy day and between spilling leaves and then stuff rising back up the top, it was a big mess.

To fix that I got a 3 ft length of 8 in duct tubing and managed to collapse that into the 7.5 in top. At the other end I got an 8 in to 10 in adapter and secured it with zip ties. The adapter gave a slightly wider hole to pour into and it also covered up the sharp edges of the duct work. I can pour faster and stuff doesn't rise up through the top.

I works on dry leaves and fresh. It reduces volume by about 10 times near as I can tell.

The four foot rose canes needed to be chopped to 1 ft lengths in order to work.

Now I have a steady supply leaf mulch to cover the beds and kitchen scraps in the compost bin.

When I run the thing into the ground, I'll get a blow/vac thing with a metal impeller then.

Thanks again everyone.
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RE: Leaf blow/vac/shredder advice please

I hope others
understand that as I have no clue what you said. Maybe I am just too slow.


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RE: Leaf blow/vac/shredder advice please

  • Posted by corrine1 7b Pacific Northwest (My Page) on
    Thu, Sep 13, 12 at 12:39

2nd the metal impeller

We bought ours from Amazon last fall. Home depot also had it. Reviews are good. Don't vacuum up a rock though.

Toro 51599 Ultra 12 amp Variable-Speed Electric Blower/Vacuum with Metal Impeller


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RE: Leaf blow/vac/shredder advice please

Interesting Rott! For those who don't know what this thing is, it's a little electric top-feed chipper shredder:

http://chippershredderreview.com/290/eco-shredder-es1600-14-amp-electric-chipper-shredder-mulcher-review

My wife bought one last year very similar to this, and we used it to shred a lot of cedar twigs and branches for a nice mulch. Works fine on lightweight stuff, esp. green branches, since they're softer.

I might try removing the top and putting on a wider shoot for leaf shredding like you did, great idea!


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RE: Leaf blow/vac/shredder advice please

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Sorry my last message was confusing. I had forgotten who I told when and where exactly and I was kind of full of myself for finally getting the thing to work in a decent fashion.

Hopefully the photo below will explain better what I ended up with. The yellow is the eco shredder with the top removed with a 7.5" OD opening. The silver cylinder is a 3 ft length of 8" dia duct crammed into the 7 7/16" ID with an 8" to 10" adaptor on top. One might be able to get away with a 2 ft length. The black line on the top end of the cylinder is just some zip ties to collapse that end around the adapter. The removed cover is sitting on the stoop next to the yellow part. The cover has a slot which is shorter than some of the avocado leaves are long. You can see some avocado leaves on the ground.

Tox is correct in that it's best for soft stuff. I'm just loading leaves and stray twigs that I've raked up.

Thanks again everyone.
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RE: Leaf blow/vac/shredder advice please

  • Posted by RpR_ 3-4 (My Page) on
    Tue, Sep 18, 12 at 14:35

For those with small yards, a large wet/dry vacuum can work well.
I do not have a small yard but I have crushed granite drive-way and before it freezes in winter I often end up blowing a goodly quantity of rocks on the lawn next to the drive-way.
It takes time and may look silly but in the spring I take the just the hose and move along, on my hand and knees vacuuming the lawn.
Much less work than raking and it cleans off all debris including leaves, twigs, dog poop etc.

I have also used it to suck up small leaf piles and leaves that get caught in corners around the house.
No blades to break and as long as you keep the filters clean and working last a long time.

My sig. other got a hair up her butt that we needed white landscaping rocks and this also works very well for simply removing them, or removing them to tubs to be bleached so they are mostly white again.
If you have ever had to pick up these rocks by hand it is a life saver.


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RE: Leaf blow/vac/shredder advice please

I have a 'worx' blower/shredder. Never used the blower 1/2 but have used the shredder for 2 seasons now and it works fine. The only thing is to try and have them as dry as possible. I actually box mine and they sit in the garage (I am 1 year in front of my composting needs)and then in summer I just throw them in a huge cardboard box for a day or two then suck em up and they shred great.


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RE: Leaf blow/vac/shredder advice please

I found a Flowtron leaf shredder at our local ReStore (salvaged building materials and lots of other stuff) for $9.75. These look flimsy, and use a crappy little universal motor (the kind with brushes), but that motor revs very high. Uses heavy trimmer string to chop the leaves. I adjust it to shred as fine as possible. Works even on wet leaves, though slower. Won't take anything larger than very small twigs, for obvious reasons. Because it has a very large opening, you can dump leaves in at a good rate, but not too fast as you can overload the motor, which universals don't like (tends to burn them up). It's surprising how long the trimmer line lasts before needing replacing (which is very easy). I noticed in another thread how someone was using a trimmer in a round wire cage to shred leaves. The Flowtron is the same idea refined to a much more efficient level. Amazon has 2 models, at about $130 and $136. Harbor Freight has a similar one, but a bit smaller and maybe flimsier for about $70. I use mine only for leaves (pine needles too), and have a hammer mill shredder/chipper for everything else.


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RE: Leaf blow/vac/shredder advice please

I found a Flowtron leaf shredder at our local ReStore (salvaged building materials and lots of other stuff) for $9.75. These look flimsy, and use a crappy little universal motor (the kind with brushes), but that motor revs very high. Uses heavy trimmer string to chop the leaves. I adjust it to shred as fine as possible. Works even on wet leaves, though slower. Won't take anything larger than very small twigs, for obvious reasons. Because it has a very large opening, you can dump leaves in at a good rate, but not too fast as you can overload the motor, which universals don't like (tends to burn them up). It's surprising how long the trimmer line lasts before needing replacing (which is very easy). I noticed in another thread how someone was using a trimmer in a round wire cage to shred leaves. The Flowtron is the same idea refined to a much more efficient level. Amazon has 2 models, at about $130 and $136. Harbor Freight has a similar one, but a bit smaller and maybe flimsier for about $70. I use mine only for leaves (pine needles too), and have a hammer mill shredder/chipper for everything else.


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RE: Leaf blow/vac/shredder advice please

I have a flowtron too. I've had it for prolly 10 years now.


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RE: Leaf blow/vac/shredder advice please

I would suggest spending a little extra money to get something that will last for at least a few seasons. There are many quality models that are not too much more expensive, but will last much longer.

Here is a link that might be useful: Lawn Vacuums


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