Advantage: Lawn Vac vs. Mower?

This time of the year I always get LOTS of leaves on my lawn, as on my street I have more trees than anyone, and usually spend hours gathering up leaves as they fall and completely cover my lawn and driveway.
I always see these 4 in 1 lawn vac machines (chipper, shredder, vac, blower) that claim to clean up lawns. These things appear to look exactly like lawn mowers, except maybe have bigger bags.
I have a Toro lawn mower and can maybe go 1 minute or less before the bag is filled with chopped up leaves, and that makes using the mower impossible to use, unless I just mulch the leaves and not bag it, but that doesn't make for a very nice looking lawn when the spring comes around.
Anyone have any experiences with these Lawn Vacs? Generally around $450-550, are they worth it compared to using a regular lawn mower?
Aside from buying a tractor, would one of these Lawn Vacs make my job easier over using a mower?
Thanks for any advice,
Steve
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...

But come spring when the grass starts to grow, it will grow better because of the leaves.
--
Joseph E. Meehan

26 + 6 = 1 It's Irish Math
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Hi Steve I'm in the same boat you are tons of oak and maple trees on a half acre lot. I have owned a Craftmen Vac Shreader, blower for 27 years. It finally got a little tired and i went a bought the new 6.5 horse Craftman unit. I was a little skeptical as anything new doesnt seem to be as good as the old. Well. I can assure you this new unit is twice as good as the old one. I can do my whole yars in an hour. I do have one advantage though, I don't have to bag the whole yard only the front. The bad holds a ton of shredded leaves and shreds at an 8 - 1 ratio. The vac hose is great for the bushes and shrubs and you can set the main nozzle down so low it will pick up dirt and sand from your driveway. If I had and complaint about the unit at all it would be that the bag is kinda heavy when it is full and the gas tank could be a little bigger, both things that the older unit suffered from also. I would not hesitate to but one of these units. It is way better then raking or mowing with a bag. Good Luck, Rick
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snipped-for-privacy@aol.com (Randd01) wrote:

Rick, I need to do only the front as well. 1 little tree in the backyard, almost no leaves, but plenty in the front.
I appreciate your response, and I'll probably check today's Sunday paper and see what is available.
Other than a good engine and reliable name brand, is there some special feature that I should be looking specifically for? I know that after you own something, you always wish that you bought one with a certain feature that the other one had.
I'd like to do it right the first time.
Steve
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You don't have much choice when it comes to these units. Troy Bilt was the only other company that made a 4-1 combo and they are no longer made by Troybuilt. Troybilt is no mae by MTD which is not the same quality. Troybilt is now sold at Lowes and looks pretty similer to the Craftman one. They are the same price. Craftman is havin a sal eon their unit this week $75 off. Id go fo it if I were you.
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I use a push-style lawn-vac machine to clean out the leaves (and also remove grass clippings after I have mowed the lawn).
Because it cuts the leaves in relatively small pieces before putting the leaves into the bag, it can pack quite some leaves before the bag is full. After saying that, I still need to empty the bags at least 7 times whenever I remove one-week-worth of leaves left on my 1/4 acre property.
This machine is good if you like to compost tree leaves. The leaves that I left in my compost piles 1 week ago has cooked quite hot even in this cold weather -- I can see and feel white-hot stream coming out from the piles when I turn the compost piles.
On the other hand, if you are not into composting, you may not want to use this machine. You may be better off using a leaf blower. The lawn vac costs a lot more than a leaf blower. And I am under the impression that it doesn't vacuum cleaner than a leaf blower can blow either. And I am 100% sure that it doesn't vacuum grass clippings from my driveway better than a leaf blower can blow away the grass clippings. In my opinion, a lawn vac has similar functions as a leaf blower: Both can clean leaves and grass clippings. The differences are: (1) A leaf blower can clean grass clippings from your driveway better. (2) A lawn vac can cut leaves into small pieces. Therefore, if cutting leaves into small pieces is not something that you need, you may be better off using a leaf blower.
If you have decided to get a lawn vac, you may want to get one with high suction and self-propelled unit.
- My lawn vac is something like a 4.5-hp. It is OK with sucking leaves and winged seeds from a hard surface. But it always leaves winged seeds behind if it is on a grassy surface. I am hoping that a high suction unit will get everything. (Correct me if I am wrong if someone has first hand experience with using a high horse power lawn vac).
- A lawn vac with one large bag of mulched leaves can be quite heavy (I know that because the one that I have is NOT self-propelled). Therefore, a self-propelled unit is a good idea.
- The suction head of my lawn vac has one problem: It can easily dig into the lawn and damage the lawn if I lower the lawn vac close to the ground. If I don't get it close to the ground, its suction power will be reduced. It is a catch-22 situation. This problem could have easily avoided if the suction head is flexible and has a wheel in front of it; then I can lower the suction head close to the ground while the head will also has enough clearance from the ground. I don't know if there is such a lawn vac available in the market. You may want to look for one that has this feature.
Hope this helps.
Jay Chan
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