If you’re like most of us, you still have a few leftover leaves in your yard that took the winter months settling into place. If they’re left there too long after the last frost, the once-pretty grass underneath will die and will soon be replaced by weeds. There are several nifty tools to help get rid of them including my personal favorite (Yeah, right!), the yard rake. However, if you’re looking for a higher-octane, less-painful alternative, a turf vacuum might be right up your alley. Turf vacuums come in push or tow-behind varieties. They operate much like a household vacuum cleaner, sucking up leaves, pine needles, grass clippings, and other small lawn debris. Push vacs are made much smaller for maneuverability while their towable cousins are designed for larger spaces. That said, the basic principles are the same for both types. Functional Performance Engine horsepower is of course the first thing you should check when comparing models, but this is not the only factor that will determine how well the vacuum performs. The other key performance consideration is the impeller or fan blade inside the unit. The surface area of the impeller and the speed at which it turns significantly influence the volume of air and debris that can be pulled through. The video below shows a comparison of two different impellers’ surface areas. Also take note of the diameter of the hose, as narrower hoses tend to clog more easily. Ease of Use In order to minimize your time spent unloading, evaluate the capacity of the turf vacuum relative to the size of your lawn. Unless you have a very small lawn, bigger is better with respect to capacity. And when you do have to unload, it should be as simple and efficient as possible. Evaluate the dumping function closely, because what may seem like a simple flap or zipper initially can become an irritatingly repetitive chore if you have to unfasten and refasten several times. The turf vacuum is an incredibly time and labor-saving piece of equipment that would make Tim “The Toolman” Taylor grunt with excitement. It makes the most feared chore of the year more like a ride in the park.