I am a garden and landscape maintenance contractor, and I would like to know if it is worth buying a handheld blower.

 Most outdoor power-product manufacturers offer at least one model of handheld blower. Whether it is worth spending £200 to £250 on such an item entirely depends on the amount and type of work you do.

Blowers are useful tools. In autumn they can respond to leaf fall but they are also handy at other times of the year.

If you want to start mowing early, blowers will help disperse dew from the grass blades and make the grass-cutting operation cleaner while reducing the risk of disease infection and spread. High-powered blowers can also be used to push gravel and grit off the grass before mowing.

After mowing, a quick whiz-round with the blower will see any clippings cleared from paths and driveways. Hedgecuttings can be sent scurrying back into the hedge bottom or soil returned to beds after cultivation and weeding. The blower is really handy for tidying up after maintenance work. It's certainly less effort than sweeping or raking and I would argue the finished results are neater.

But only opt to buy a handheld blower if you know your work is only going to require short spells of blowing - otherwise opt for a backpack model. Manufacturers have reduced the weight and vibrations associated with handheld blowers, but they can still be a strain to use. If you buy one, make sure it is well-balanced and easy to use both left- and right-handed because most operations will want you to change hands.

Putting the weight of the engine on your back makes blowing operations more comfortable. Echo offers an entry-level backpack blower for £259 ex VAT. Other manufacturers offer a good selection in the £300 to £400 bracket.

- Sally Drury has reported for HW and its forerunner GC&HTJ for 25 years, and has spent more than four years testing machinery for HW and What Kit? The advice in this helpline is independent.


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