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The changing leaves of the fall season might be beautiful, but they can make a big mess in your yard. Unfortunately, someone has to clean it up. Luckily, you won't have to do everything by hand (and rake) the way your grandpa did. Autumn cleanup can be made significantly easier with the help of modern power tools. But which ones should you get?
Those with a Home Depot nearby might consider picking up a few Ryobi products. These lime green tools made by Techtronic Industries (TTI) aren't typically the most powerful ones on the market, but they tend to be much less expensive than most of the other name brands and regularly receive excellent reviews. This price-to-performance ratio is why Ryobi is ranked as one of the absolute best major power tool brands on the market.
The company doesn't just make drills and table saws either. It also has a whole lineup of tools geared toward making fall cleanup a little easier. As a homeowner responsible for his own landscaping and someone who has worked with his fair share of Ryobi products, here are the top tools I would recommend you pick up to help tame the changing season's effects on your yard.
18V One+ HP Brushless Whisper Series 450 CFM Blower Kit
Whether it's leaves or fresh-cut grass, few tools can help keep your lawn in order more than a good leaf blower. You can even pair it with a gutter cleaning kit to blast the buildup out of your gutters without spending long, dangerous hours teetering on the edge of your roof.
An ideal blower for most people is the 18V One+ HP Brushless Whisper Series 450 CFM Blower Kit. At 450 CFM, this blower pushes air at 130MPH, which is more than adequate for most small to medium-sized properties. Ryobi also makes a couple of more expensive 40V 600 CFM and 730 CFM models, but only those with large properties, professional landscapers, or people dealing with exceptionally wet conditions are likely to need that much horsepower.
The kit comes with an 18V 4.0Ah One+ lithium battery and charger. The biggest downside to this battery is that Ryobi only promises up to 16 minutes of runtime on a single charge. On the plus side, this tool is part of Ryobi's new Whisper Series, meaning that it's engineered to run 86% quieter than other similar blowers. The blower has a variable speed trigger for controlling the air's output, a turbo button to give it a boost of power, and a cruise control feature to help reduce fatigue. It also comes with a blower tube and speed tip for fine control.
40V HP Brushless Power Cleaner Kit
Another great tool for fall cleanup is Ryobi's 40V HP Brushless Power Cleaner Kit. Power cleaners can be beneficial for blasting away the dirt and gunk that builds up on your house's walls, windows, driveways, walkways, patio furniture, decks, and skirting. They can also be great for washing off the sticky residue from fruit trees. Anyone who has ever had the misfortune of leaving their car parked under a cherry or berry-producing tree knows what a pain it can be to scrape that pulp off by hand.
The 40V HP Brushless Power Cleaner has an adjustable output, allowing it to shoot water anywhere from 100-600 PSI and 0.2-0.7 GPM. This power output is on the lower end of consumer-grade pressure washers, which is fairly typical of a battery-powered washer. Gas-powered units are almost always stronger, so you might want a more powerful washer for serious renovations involving a lot of hard or sticky build-up. That said, the 600 PSI 0.7 GPM output is perfectly sufficient for most seasonal cleanups. It's also good to have for cleaning vehicles where you don't want to worry about accidentally stripping the paint.
The kit comes with a 2.0Ah lithium battery, which gives the washer up to 16 minutes of runtime. The cleaner also comes with a siphon hose and a bottle adapter, so you can use it even in locations where a garden hose isn't readily available.
18V One+ HP Pruning Shear Kit
Not all tasks require massive power tools. Sometimes, you need something with a little more precision. You might need to trim back small tree branches without felling the entire limb. You also might want to cut back blackberry bushes whose thorny vines have wormed their way into your perennials without destroying the entire garden. Shears are an excellent solution in these situations, but it can be difficult to cut through some of these plants with grip strength alone.
The 8V One+ HP Pruning Shear is a battery-operated shear that takes the labor out of pruning. According to Ryobi's product description, the tool "is ideal for light pruning and limbing, and the bypass blades make clean, complete cuts up to 1" in diameter." So it's actually strong enough to prune small tree limbs in addition to delicate vines and brambles. The pruning shear has a soft grip handle and a built-in LED work light to make it easier to see what you're cutting. The kit also includes a Ryobi One+ Battery and charger.
It's an excellent tool. The only problem is the $200 price point. This seems uncharacteristically expensive for Ryobi, and there are several similar shears available from other brands for cheaper. Still, it might be worthwhile if you're committed to the One+ battery system.
40V HP Brushless 20 Chainsaw Kit
Pruning is good for smaller projects, but sometimes you need to cut down something a little bigger. Few tools compare to a good chainsaw when it's time to cut down a dangerously low-hanging limb or even fell an entire tree. Ryobi has a few different chainsaws in its catalog, including a one-handed 18V brushless pruning chainsaw for smaller projects, but one of the best tools it sells for bigger projects is the 40V HP Brushless 20" Chainsaw Kit.
Ryobi claims that it "delivers more power than a 50cc gas chainsaw, making this chainsaw a true gas replacement." The company also states it "gets over 100 cuts per charge and is equipped with a premium full complement chain." It achieves this power and efficiency with both its brushless motor and its high-performance 40V lithium-ion battery. The brushless motor allows for more power with less energy consumption and less heat generation, while the high-voltage battery gives the chainsaw the juice it needs. It has a 20" bar and chain with built-in tension adjustment, which allows it to cut objects up to 36". It also has a built-in automatic oiler to keep the chain clean and rust-free and a mechanical brake to help protect you from any kickback that might occur while using it. The kit comes with a 40V 8Ah battery and a charger.
40V HP Brushless Kinetic Log Splitter Kit
Anyone with a fireplace or wood-burning stove knows that it's always good to have a little extra firewood lying around. Chopping it by hand is cheap and satisfying, but you can make the chore much easier on yourself by getting a kinetic log splitter. These tools use a powered piston and a steel wedge to simplify and expedite the grueling task of splitting logs.
The Ryobi 40V HP Brushless Kinetic Log Splitter Kit is an excellent option. It can apply up to "12 tons of splitting force," according to the product description, "with more power than an 80cc gas log splitter." Ryobi claims that it can even split famously dense woods like oak and hickory. It operates on a two-second cycle time, making it easy to go through a pile of wood very quickly.
There are two drawbacks to the Ryobi kinetic log splitter. The first is that you are mostly restricted to splitting wood that is the same size as the wedge or smaller, so you'll probably have to split larger rounds of trunk wood before turning them into firewood and kindling on the kinetic splitter. The second is the price. At just under a grand, it's certainly not worth buying just for a single project. This is a large investment that you will want to be sure you will use for years.