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To blow or not to blow.

Byline: Jim Feehan The Register-Guard

The soundtrack of autumn in Eugene features both the metallic clatter of rakes and the loud whir of leaf blowers.

In the lawn maintenance wars played out in neighborhoods, one side brandishes traditional rakes of metal, plastic or wood, while the other wields the high-powered whine of continuous leaf blowers.

Leaf pickup began this week in west Eugene, while the county will begin picking up leaves Monday. Leaves will be collected in Springfield starting Nov. 28.

When autumn leaves must be cleared, Paul Ely of Eugene opts for a leaf blower. "When I can, I prefer to blow," he said during a break in moving fallen leaves from the chestnut tree in front of his home in the south university neighborhood recently.

Leaf blowers offer convenience, and they're great at tackling large projects, he said.

"I have four kids and I can't punish them enough to make them rake leaves," Ely said.

A few blocks away, Danna and Greg Skillman were both raking leaves from a sycamore. The Skillmans agreed that the family that rakes together, aches together. But creating gale-force winds using a leaf blower doesn't sit well with them.

"Raking is also quieter and has no gas motor fumes. Besides, leaf blowers just end up blowing leaves onto someone else's property," said Greg Skillman.

Noise aside, many find blowers invaluable for autumn cleanup. Blowers use a jet of air to thrust leaves and loose debris away and gather it into a pile. Once the domain of commercial landscapers, the handy machines are available at just about any home improvement store for less than $25.

In the raging debate over whether to use leaf blowers or rakes, Jim McWilliams opts for both. Using a Black and Decker Leaf Hog, McWilliams blasts the leaves from his birch, plum and Japanese maples along Spyglass Drive.

"For moving a volume of leaves in a quick amount of time, nothing beats a blower," he said.

After blowing the leaves to the curb, McWilliams uses a rake to scoop the leaves into a bin.

University of Oregon nursing student Jennifer Kay took up raking for the first time last week after finding a cache of lawn implements in the garage of her west university neighborhood rental house.

"My dad will be so proud of me. Raking was always my little brother's job," said Kay, who grew up in Salem.

But even some who rake say they'd rather blow.

"Rakes are 10 times slower and not as effective as a blower. Rakes also get caught in the root structure of trees," said Paul Krueger, who was raking outside his 85-year-old mother's Cal Young neighborhood home on Sunday.

Trying to get an entire yard free of leaves during halftime won't happen using a rake, Krueger said.

"Leaf blowers are quicker and more efficient," he said. "I'd rather be watching football than raking."


With the beauty of fall comes the chore of clearing the lawn. The size of these maple leaves eases cleanup. Leaf blowers or rakes? Richard Burch of Tim's Landscape Maintenance says it's a matter of ground conditions and time. INSIDE Pickup: Leaf collection map / D2
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Title Annotation:General News; When leaf collection is the question, factions wage an auditory war
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Nov 5, 2005
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