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Leaf vacuum guidance

Posted by abelman z7NY (My Page) on
Mon, Nov 6, 06 at 23:06

It seems that this topic has been discussed already, but having read all the previous discussions, I'm still a bit short of the guidance that I need.

My yard is only about 4,000 square feet, but I get a huge amount of leaves every year since my property is on a dead end and there are a lot of trees around it. I've tried a powerful (Echo) backpack blower and vacuum, and a good 'ole rake, both of which I've found to be very tedious and tiring. I bag all my leaves, which makes the effort even more tedious.

I am considering a push (or self-propelled) leaf vacuum, which I assume would clear my property faster and without as much effort. I would be willing to spend in the $400 - $700 range for new or used, and I would appreciate any recommendations. I have been looking at the local Home Depot and Lowes and I've noticed they carry a couple of Troy-Bilt models and a Cub Cadet model. (I've also seen the Craftsman models at Sears.) I've also seen models from DR, Merry Mac, BillyGoat and Little Wonder online, which are consderably more expensive and are hard to find used.

I would appreciate any reviews of the more affordable models (or any leads as to where I could purchase a more commercial model for less).

- In what ways are the more expensive models superior?
- Which models have sufficient suction?
- Which models constantly clog with leaves or branches?
- What kind of engines are recommended?
- How much HP is necessary to get the job done?
- Is the bag large enough?
- Is the bag easy to empty into a garbage bag?
- Can the bag be lined with a garbage bag?
- Is the self-propelled function necessary?
- Any recommended retailers that ship?
- How do the Troy-Bilt, Cub Cadet and Craftsman compare (since they are the most readily available in my area)?

Thank you for your help.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Leaf vacuum guidance

I've owned a Troy-Bilt (pre-MTD buyout, and different from the current versions) and a very old (nothing like the huge current model) Billy Goat. Both clog alot (I carry a big stick in my back pocket while I vacuum) - and, in the case of a lot of trigs/branches- even more often and they don't like very wet leaves. Neither did a good job with pine needles (vacuum up OK, but not much shredding or reduction) or acorns (makes a racket, tho').

The hose on the Troy-Bilt worked just "OK" and I can't imagine the annoyance of having to drag the hose around with the new design(s) on the 3 you're considering- all of which, to me, look to be the same mfg. (Troy-Bilt and Cub Cadet are both MTD brands, and the Sears does sell MTD-made Craftsman items and the photo linked below sure looks the same as the Troy-Bilt model CSV065 on their webpage at Troybilt.com ).

I much preferred the bag on the old Troy-Bilt- easy to install/remove/carry, a bit sloppy to dump (mine go into compost piles, so "neatness" isn't an issue). The new MTD T-B bag is different, however.

The Billy Goat bag is a pain- belted on, ackward to install/remove and it's made out of some Velcro-like material, so it always has a ton of leaves stuck to the inside AND outside. Plus, the narrow, cloth section of the entryway clogs up easily (T-B had a curved plastic shoot).

I can't imagine being able to put a bag INSIDE the bags, since they need to allow air (and dust- have a good hankerchief) to pass through them, otherwise I'd imagine they'd blow up). And, if the bags were much bigger, they'd just be too heavy to push around (indeed, both my machines tend to "tilt" backwards, lifting the front wheels right off the ground, when full).

I'd think the self-propelled models would be an annoyance, since the leaves tend to gather in piles after a few days of wind- they're not nice and evenly spread out to picked up as if you were mowing a lawn in perfect rows.

Still, these low-end models I have, while not perfect, are a whole lot better than raking. My T-B engine blew up this spring and I'm in the market for a replacement, so, despite it all, I think they're worth it.

I'm guessing the higher end units, at around $1,000, are "better" (altho' they look HUGE) but I'd have a hard time spending that kind of money (I'd use it for a pull-behind unit like CycloneRake on my garden tractor, tho').

Here is a link that might be useful: Craftsman Chipper/Shredder/Vac


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RE: Leaf vacuum guidance

I don't have anything to add on the vacuum side, but I can state that it is alot less work to make a compost pile rather than to bag. You can get quite a few bags worth of leaves into a pile especially if you shred the leaves. The shredding also speeds composting. Makes some great stuff for you garden if you are into that sort of thing.


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RE: Leaf vacuum guidance

Can anyone make recommendations from these three models? How do they compare? Which engines are better?

Troy-Bilt: http://www.troybilt.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/product_10001_14102_13809_17690_-1
Cub Cadet: http://www.cubcadet.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/product_10051_14101_145105_42263_-1#
Craftsman: http://www.sears.com/sr/javasr/product.do?cat=Power+Lawn+Equipment&pid=07177099000&vertical=LAWN&subcat=Chippers+%26+Shredders&BV_UseBVCookie=Yes

Is the more expensive Troy-Bilt good value? It seems to have the same HP as the one above. http://www.troybilt.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/product_10001_14102_10109_17690_-1

Thanks for your help.


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RE: Leaf vacuum guidance

I've been pondering the same question lately - whether to buy a vacuum for my 1/2 acre yard. Snapper also makes one. But jesskidden's experience doesn't sound too encouraging. I have been considering as an alternative a Snapper HiVac mower, which also has a leaf shredder attachment.

It would be good to hear anyone else's experience.


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RE: Leaf vacuum guidance

I basically have a home in the middle of a forest with hilly terrain so leaf management has been an ongoing challenge. First, I clear leaves from flower beds and drainage areas with my handheld Stihl gas blower on low speeds along with a small rake. Next, I use a Honda self propelled mower with a leaf shredder attachment for the lawn. It does a fantastic job of shredding leaves as long as I don't let deep "leaf drifts" accumulate. Otherwise, the mower deck, even fully raised, tends to "plow" the leaves. Some leaf debris will remain behind so then I use a Redmax backpack blower to perform the final cleanup.

I find the flower beds and drainage areas to be the most unpleasant task. I've also looked at the Troy-Bilt and Craftsman models but I'm not impressed. I'm considering the CycloneRake but it seems like expensive overkill and would be diffult to use on slopes....there does not appear to be a good compromise. I'll probably go for the CycloneRake with the long hose but it will take me a while to justify the cost in my mind.


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RE: Leaf vacuum guidance

I use a Snapper 21" with a 6.5hp & a Ninja blade with a bag. I drop the deck and mow slow until the bag is about 1/2 to 3/4 of the way full. Then I empty the bag into an empty trash barrel that I have close by. I will continue to mow and empty till the barrel is full, and then I stop what I am doing and go to empty the trash can of fine mulched grass clippings and leaves into my compost bin. (This method works best if you do not apply pesticides or chemical fertilizers to your lawn.)

As long as you do not have branches to chip, and garden or other yard waste to mulch. The mower is all I have ever used.

One of the most cost effective methods for buying a yard mulcher on a budget is craigslist finding a nice used mower that you can cut a hole in the front deck to stuff sticks and other large mulchable stuff.


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RE: Leaf vacuum guidance

I think you are best off going with the Toro 51609 or one of the previous Toro models. Every year, this is the top seller on Amazon and it receives great reviews from almost everyone who uses it. I have one at home and I am also pleased with the results. It has plenty of blowing power and it's easy to use. And, maybe best of all, you can get it for under $100, which is much less expensive than most of the gas models available.

Here is a link that might be useful: leaf vacuum reviews


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