It’s that time of year again. The days are beautiful but feeling slightly shorter with each sunset. Summer plants are slipping just past their prime, and the leaves look ready to give one final burst of glory before falling to the ground in their millions. Yes, it’s almost leaf season, and as every hockey fan knows, managing those Leafs can be a major hassle even with the right tools!

We have spoken of the mighty leaf blower before, but as the annual ritual of fall begins anew, perhaps a quick review about decision basics is in order. According to the experts, there are four important questions to ask before you go out and purchase a leaf blower:

1. How large is the property I need to clean up?
2. What material am I going to be blowing?
3. How do my neighbours feel about noise pollution?
4. Do I have any special needs or ambitions for my blower?

The size thing is pretty simple. If you have a big yard, consider a powerful gas-powered blower, preferably one that comes mounted on a backpack. For smaller yards, your options include both gas and electric blowers or—heaven forbid—a rake!

For materials, consider the year-round expectations you might have for the new blower. Dry leaves don’t require much horsepower or effort, but large clumps of wet leaves or mixed debris take more juice. I wonder how much power it takes to clear two feet of packed snow off the back patio? Hmm.

Noise is an important factor. Blowers can be very loud and the older ones that gave themselves a bad name were known to run north of 100 decibels—that’s about as appealing to the neighbours as revving an old Harley in your driveway every Sunday morning. Fortunately, advances in leaf-blower technology have given us backpack models available in the 70–75 decibel range (about as loud as a dishwasher) and the quietest machines run at a respectable—and comfortable—60 decibels.

Finally, there are other considerations. Do you want a blower that is also a vacuum/shredder? (Mulching can be a blast.) Do you plan to use an extension on the blower to clean your gutters? Are you particularly concerned about vibration control?

Like any tool worth owning, a little research and some helpful advice from a reputable dealer can make a huge difference in finding the right equipment at an affordable price. Enjoy!