I bought a leaf-blower and the world is still with us.
I know this will consequently make me fall out of favor with some. I have avoided blowers for eight years, doing the work largely with a rake any by hand, but now that a large portion of my garden is a gravelly, dry-land garden, located under a crabapple and between two Norway Maple trees, it was the only way. That much humus would be death to the many cactuses and agaves that now reside there. Raking was not only unlikely but impossible. The tines would have uprooted the shallowly anchored plants, and removing leaves embedded in the long white-spined cholla by hand would have been fruitless and painful.
The blower isn’t a miraculous solution. I didn’t get the bag for the vacuum feature, so I still had to rake up what detritus I blew out of the desert sage. I also gained the insight that desert plants have evolved to catch and hold onto what ever piece of organic matter blows their way, so encouraging them to let go of their treasures was more difficult than I anticipated. I believe the mature Dorr’s sages still clutch a few prized Norway Maple leaves in their bosoms. Gardening by hand still very much applies here.
On the upside, it is amazing how much time the new blower saves. In the back garden, I turned its wind onto the leaves hiding under the dining set and the concrete bench, and cleared off the piles burying the Lewisias. All this work was done in about 3 minutes when it normally would have taken 15 or 20. And, it was nice to blow all of those lovely leaves straight into the beds.
Ironically, it didn’t work as well with blowing leaves off the lawn. I want to get them into the beds, but since they blow away erratically, it’s usually easier for me to do a few sweeps with the rake than to herding stray leaves around interminably.
So my verdict: Leaf-blowers are good for patio, gravel areas, troughs, new rock garden. Use a rake for everything else.