Super-Sizing Leaf Collection; Hackers Doing Yardwork

For many parts of the world, the great raking has begun as deciduous trees in temperate zones drop their leaves. Of course not everyone can abide the simple yet laborious process of manual raking and so they look to technology. You can buy a handheld leaf vacuum, a pull-behind leaf sweeper, or a mower attachment that lifts leaves into hoppers. [Lou] has the latter, but it’s way too small for his taste so he super-sized his leaf collecting hardware.

The hard part of leaf collection has already been solved for [Lou]. The riding lawnmower lifts the leaves and propels them through an angled pipe into three hopper bags which we think total 9 bushels (roughly 80 gallons or 300 liters). That sounds like a lot, but anyone who has recently cleared leaves will attest that they will fill up in no time.

[Lou] builds a light-weigh 4-foot cube covered in deer netting to super-size his hopper to a whopping 51 bushels (475 gallons or 1800 liters)! His first attempt uses a pipe that falls too short to fill leaves to the top, but his final product adds longer ductwork and hits the mark perfectly.

Gardeners everywhere should be salivating right now. Leaf mulch is one of the best things you can put on your garden in the spring. Although [Lou] designed his hopper to be emptied by leaf-blower, adapting this to set the full hopper in an out-of-the-way space would help them breakdown over the winter — turning them into planter’s gold by springtime.

33 thoughts on “Super-Sizing Leaf Collection; Hackers Doing Yardwork

  1. A more worthy hack would involve an Arduino powered robot that used the collected material in a gasifier to power itself and then sprinkled the ash and carbon power on the lawn to fertilise it, while making sheep like noises via pulse width modulation of the engine’s throttle.

      1. LOL though would an Arduino be enough computing power as that looks like a job for a Raspberry pi?
        Though an Arduino still would be useful for low level control think like a reptile brain to go with the pi acting as the cortex.

    1. Ash is alkaline, you can’t really use it as a fertiliser… Some would probably help with the minerals, but doing this with all those leaves would probably shift the pH os the soil too much…

      1. In our case we’re dealing with maple leaves. We generally rake the majority and the city picks them up for composting. But I do one mowing session where I bag them and we overtop the garden beds for winter. By the time we plant it’s somewhat broken down and we just till it under for healthier soil.

  2. One of the most annoying things about driving ride-on lawnmowers is that ever-tightening circle you end up driving.

    You’d think you can plan ahead and cut the grass in long strips, but you stilll end up doing that silly pirouette every damn time, especially at the turning points at the end.

    1. If the space is large enough you could do it in overlapping loops. Start along the left edge and go to half way across the yard. Then the loops can move progressively across the yard until they go from centre to the right hand edge. If you overlap along the top and bottom you can do it without pirouetting or decreasing the turning radius.

      1. Assume you have a rectangular area of lawn that is several times wider than the turn radius of the mower.

        The trick is to cut sideways to make turning space at both ends, and then cut a corridor through the middle to pre-emptively remove the thin bit you end up with last, and then start circling around the whole lawn, taking long cuts from the outside in but not cutting the ends any shorter. That way you don’t end up with that annoying figure-8 in the end where you’re left with two 4-5 ft circular patches and a thin sliver of grass in between.

        But the downside is that the ends of the lawn wear out because you’re turning around over the same patch over and over every time you mow the lawn. Maybe a better way would be to cut the perimeter and then move to the middle and spiral outwards, assuming the area is roughly a square, but if it isn’t a square then you’re eventually left with two disconnected ends that have to be cut separately.

      2. Then there’s the method where when you reach the end of the side of your uncut area, instead of turning into the cut, you turn away from the cut and spin back around, which makes for square corners.

        But it also tears up the lawn because the tractor wheels plow the ground when you’re making a tight turn, and it makes you dizzy after a while so it’s really annoying.

  3. Who else here tried to watch the stop-motion GIF and started imagining F1 race car noises? I feel left out.

    However back on topic:
    Fairly well constructed collection box. Though I’d go overkill and support the supporting beams in the cage area and use metal-box steel struts to hold the box up, slide some wood into the boxed beams for redundancy and spring when the metal breaks. Ya kno, just in case.

  4. I want to see someone make a leaf blower out of the giant squirrel cage fan from a forced-hot-air furnace. Depending on the size you’d probably get enough air moving to make a tarp duct and blow the leaves right to their destination, like the machines they use to install blown insulation.

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