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How Lawn and Garden Vacuums Work

Lawn and Garden Vacuum Equipment
You'll need something to store all of the leaves you vacuum up.
You'll need something to store all of the leaves you vacuum up.

You wouldn't hop into a canoe without a life jacket and paddle -- similarly, there are a few pieces of equipment you'll want to have handy before you fire up your lawn and garden vacuum.

All debris is not created equal, and that's why most portable lawn and garden vacuums come with a range of nozzles and attachments to help you move into tight spaces. If you're working in precise or delicate areas like a garden, you may want to avoid using a large intake nozzle that could end up doing damage. Or, if you're picking up heavier debris, such as pine cones, you may want a smaller nozzle to give you more suction. Chances are your lawn and garden vacuum will come with all of the necessary equipment included. If not, specialty attachments should also be available through the manufacturer or your local home and garden center. If you're using a push-variety lawn and garden vacuum, you may also be able to attach a large "wander" hose, giving you the flexibility to suck up stray bits of rubbish while makings the rounds of your backyard.

Lawn vacuums can sometimes be quieter than leaf blowers -- but the fact remains that you're usually dealing with a gasoline engine without a muffler. To avoid damaging your ears, pick up a pair of industrial earmuffs. In a pinch, foam or paper earplugs will do just as well. Ear protection won't be necessary if you have the quieter (and cheaper) option of an electric vacuum, but you'll want to make sure you have enough extension cords to move through the yard. Or, if you only have to use the device for about an hour at a time, you can also do away with the cord altogether and find yourself a cordless, battery powered machine.

Many larger varieties of lawn and garden vacuum will mulch waste as well as collect it. The result is that your yard waste will end up being much denser when you scoop it out of the machine's collector bag. When you used a rake or a leaf blower, you may have filled six bags full of loose leaves. Now, you might find that you're filling only two or three bags with mulch. Of course, the bags of mulch will be much heavier than the bags of leaves, which is why you'll want to make sure you have extra-strong garbage bags if you're planning on taking the mulch to the dump or leaving it on the curb for municipal pickup. Or, if you're looking to reuse the mulch in your garden, make sure you have a large plastic garbage can to store it in.

For lots more information on lawn and garden care, see the links on the next page.