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What Is a Lawn Sweeper?

Lawn sweepers are used to collect grass clippings and other small debris.
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  • Written By: R. Kayne
  • Edited By: L. S. Wynn
  • Last Modified Date: 21 August 2014
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A lawn sweeper resembles a simple light-framed push mower with catcher, but rather than reel blades, the axle spins brushes contained in a housing. As the lawn sweeper is pushed over the lawn, the brushes rotate and "comb through" the grass, throwing back clippings, leaves, twigs, small stones and other debris into the catcher. The catcher can then be emptied onto a compost pile or into the trash.

Quiet and pollution-free, lawn sweepers are an ecologically friendly alternative to leaf blowers or raking. Blowers have been outlawed in some cities due to the noise they produce, while raking even a relatively small lawn takes considerable time and appreciable work. Pushing a lawn sweeper is relatively easy and only takes as long as it takes to walk the lawn. This makes sweepers especially ideal for yards with small maple trees, oaks, birch or other deciduous leaf-shedders.

Lawn sweepers are lightweight, so almost anyone can use one, and removal of debris helps to keep mower blades sharp. They brush up the turf as they go, which leaves the grass standing tall and helps ensure that grass is mowed to an even height. Lawn sweepers can even be used to clean driveways or walkways after a light snow. To ensure the longevity of a lawn sweeper, it is recommended they be kept clean and dry.

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Aside from the push-style lawn sweeper there are also tow models that can attach to the back of lawn tractors or riding mowers. These trail behind, picking up grass clippings or other debris, making them ideal for commercial landscaping or for very large lawns. The width of these sweepers is greater than the push style and the bags are also larger and made of canvas, heavy nylon or even steel mesh. The catchers also feature small rollers to keep the bag from dragging along the ground, and the brushes are normally height-adjustable.

For larger yards with one or more mature deciduous trees, a lawn vacuum may be desired. These feature a motor that sucks up leaves, and a mulcher. Lawn vacuums require a little more energy to push due to the weight of the engine and they are more expensive. These machines are better suited for heavy duty jobs and they have flexible hose attachments that can be used to clean leaves from flower beds and hard-to-get places. They also come in commercial tow-varieties.

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Discuss this Article

anon357658
Post 9

Right now it's snowing pretty heavily and I'm wondering if anyone has used the sweeper in heavy snow.

OeKc05
Post 8

I have so many trees on my property that I have to use a lawn sweeper. I have pecan trees, magnolia trees, and oak trees, and things are always falling off of them.

I try to gather most of the pecans in the fall, but it is impossible to get them all. In the spring, there will inevitably be some old ones left lying around, and it isn’t good for the mower to hit these over and over.

The magnolia trees throw down little hard cones, and the sweeper lifts these up. I know this has saved my mower blades a lot of strain.

I have found many acorns in my sweeper as well, but I think it gathers more twigs than anything else. It would be impossible to pick all those up by hand.

wavy58
Post 7

@kylee07drg - I use nothing but grass clippings for mulch around my flowers, and I gather it all with a pull behind lawn sweeper. I don’t put them on a compost pile and let them rot first, though. I just put them directly onto the area that needs mulch.

My yard is more than one acre, so I use a riding mower. I don’t have to worry about going around and bagging the clippings by hand now that I have the sweeper. It’s nice to have a yard free of clumps of grass in the morning when the dew is out, because I don’t have to get my shoes wet while walking around out there.

The clippings nourish my flowers, and they block out the sun to keep the weeds from growing up around them. If the sweeper gathers more clippings than I need at one time, I just pile them up in one spot and use them as needed.

kylee07drg
Post 6

I make a little extra money in the summer by mowing yards around the area. After I made a good amount last year, I invested in a lawn tractor and sweeper, and it has allowed me to get the jobs done in much less time than when I used my regular riding lawnmower.

I do one yard that is the size of a big pasture, and you would not believe the amount of grass clippings I gather in the sweeper while doing this yard. Thankfully, it’s got a big bag attached, so I don’t have to stop too often to empty it out.

The owners of the yard have me toss the clippings onto a huge compost pile. They have their own personal gardener who uses this compost in the flower bed.

seag47
Post 5

@kentuckycat - Oh, I disagree about fall leaves in the yard. I think that they are so beautiful! Autumn is my favorite season, and the leaves are one of the best parts about it.

I do have several large trees in my yard, and though I don’t use the lawn sweeper in autumn, I do use it during the late spring and summer before I mow. Before I push the sweeper around, I gather all the large branches that have fallen and all the dog toys and stuff my dog has brought up from who knows where. That way, I don’t place unnecessary strain on the sweeper or risk getting something big caught in the brushes.

stl156
Post 4

@cardsfan27 - Interesting story. I have always seen fields like that and wondered how they got such perfect lines, because I know when I mow my yard I sort of have lines but nothing like what you see in the stadiums.

I remember when I was growing up my grandparents lived in a rural area and had a very large yard. Whenever the fall would come, they would always pay me a couple of dollars to hook up the lawn sweeper to the mower and drive around picking up all the leaves from their yard.

I thought it was neat getting paid to do it, but I mostly liked just driving around on the lawn mower trying to make different designs in the leaves where I had picked them up. I always tried spelling my name out, but it is a lot more difficult than it might seem.

cardsfan27
Post 3

@kentuckycat - I used to work on the ground crew at a minor league baseball stadium while I was in college, and we always used lawn sweepers to get patterns in the grass. Of course, we were mowing over much larger areas, so we always used the tow behind lawn sweepers on the back of the riding mowers. After working at the stadium, I was always amazed how major league baseball stadiums can get such great designs in their grass. I think they usually do the basic pattern with a lawn sweeper but then bring out rakes and brooms to get the finer details into the grass.

I figure it would also be surprising to the average person how many different types of lawn sweepers there actually are. Just at our stadium, we had at least 5 different brushes. They varied in diameter and stiffness and could be used for different effects.

kentuckycat
Post 2

@jcraig - I completely agree. There is really no need for anyone to have a leaf blower. Personally, I would just rather leave grass clippings in the yard after I mow, but my neighborhood kind of has an unspoken rule that you're not supposed to have a bunch of dead grass in your yard. In the fall, though, I do think the yard looks better if you get the leaves out of it, especially since I have several trees that lose their leaves every year.

The other thing I really like about the lawn sweeper is that when it sweeps the lawn, it moves all the grass in one direction, and makes it look much more professional. I don't really care to do anything fancy, really. I just go back and forth through the yard, but some of my neighbors do diagonals and different things.

jcraig
Post 1

I think having a lawn sweeper is a much better alternative to using a leaf blower. In my town, leaf blowers aren't outlawed, but I will agree that they are extremely annoying and should be done away with. Even if you do have a leaf blower, it's not like it makes the job a whole lot easier. You have to stand around with the blower on your back and spend quite a bit of time moving the leaves to wherever you want them.

Like the article says, all you have to do with a lawn sweeper is push it around the yard a couple of times to get all the leaves. Obviously, you will have to stop every now and then to dump out the leaves, but it's not too bad. I have only seen others use leaf blowers, but from my observations, it seems like lawn sweepers are faster anyway. Besides the noise and time improvements, a lawn sweeper costs much less, and you don't have to pay for gas.

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