Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Lawn Sweeper vs Landscape Rake vs Pine Straw Rake

In 2013 To-Do List Update #1 I mentioned that I am now considering alternatives to purchasing a lawn sweeper. The alternatives I am considering are either a landscape rake or pine straw rake. My primary need is for something that will make it easier to collect grass clippings and leaves that I can use as mulch or in the compost.

Before buying the tractor, a lawn sweeper was clearly my best option. The lawn sweeper could be pulled by either the RTV or four wheeler and would work for collecting either grass clippings or leaves. With the lawn sweeper I would need to empty the collection bag regularly, which could be done without getting off of the four-wheeler, although I'm not sure about the RTV, due to the increased distance between the seat and hitch. I have some concerns about the longevity of the lawn sweeper, specifically the collection bag, and worry that without idea storage conditions it may not last as long as I would like. I also suspect that the sweeper will not work as well in long grass, which could be a problem since I never mow shorter than 3 to 4 inches, and in some areas leave the grass 6" or taller.

Buying the tractor opened up several new options, including the landscape rake. One of the nice features of the landscape rake is that I would not need to exit the tractor until I was completely finished. I also believe that the landscape rake will work much better in the tall grass than the lawn sweeper would. Another benefit of the landscape rake is that there are several other tasks it could be used for, including collecting weeds, briars, and limbs. Of course there are some concerns with choosing a landscape rake. The first is that the spacing of the teeth may not work as well for small debris. I have read that when raking leaves, for example, it is very difficult to completely clear an area. This isn't too big of a deal for me, though, since my focus is collecting organic material to use for composting or mulch, rather than for aesthetic purposes. The other concern is that the rake may dig into the soil, resulting in bare spots. For most people, I can see this as a major concern, especially if the plan is to use it on the lawn. For me, however, it isn't as much of a concern since I should be able to rake a few inches above the ground, and getting into the ground wouldn't be that noticeable anyway in my natural lawn.

The other option I ran across for the tractor is a pine straw rake. The pine straw rake has flexible tines that are spaced closer together than the teeth of a landscape rake. This should solve both of the problems associated with the landscape rake. The flexible tines, however, may not do as well in the tall grass as the rigid teeth of the landscape rake. The pine straw rake does have the advantage, though. of being designed to collect pine needles, which is a feature I would likely make use of.

After doing a great deal of research, I have decided that if I were to go with a lawn sweeper I would most likely choose the 50" Ohio Steel Lawn Sweeper. The best price I have been able to find on this item is $319 from a local store.

If I go with the landscape rake I will most likely choose a 6' King Kutter, which I can get for either $469 locally, or $379 at a store approximately 115 miles away.

Unfortunately the pine straw rake isn't nearly as easy to find as a landscape rake. If I decide to go this route I'll most likely order the 6' Pine Needle Rake from Everything Attachments, which is $444 plus shipping. At this point I am leaning towards going with the landscape rake, and just driving to pick it up, since there are other items we are needing that are also cheaper at that store. I want to reconsider the pine straw rake again, however, before making my final decision.

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