I have been wanting to try the blower option on the shop vac ever since my son showed me how handy it was for fall leaf clean-up last year. For that, he went around through the brick or dirt garden paths to blow the leaves out onto the lawn. Then, it was easy to mow them up. When we recently had a wind storm that deposited dried locust tree flowers all over the back patio, I thought this was my chance.

I don’t normally let debris from the patio go onto the lawn. Most of the time, pieces are too large or there is enough dirt that I am concerned about killing the grass. But this time, the flowers were sooo little. It sounded much easier than sweeping them all up with a broom. Something needed to be done, because the patio gets a lot of foot traffic and a layer of locust flowers was forming on the kitchen floor. The flowers were collecting in the dog’s fur as she lounged in the sun, and I couldn’t seem to communicate to her to shake before she came in the house.

Using a blower to clean the patio

My shop vac skills have improved since I organized the garage last spring. I used permanent marker to make arrows on the top of the lid to point me to where the on/off switch is. Really, I think someone had a good laugh when they chose that location. I can now unwind and wind up the electrical cord without making the suction tube whack me in the knees or the face. I have learned to clean the filter and empty the bucket. I know how to get it to suction effectively from the garage carpet, and have even vacuumed a few moths from the greenhouse windows without breaking anything. But I didn’t want to vacuum the patio.

Even though I know how to get the huge motor-encasing lid off to expose the filter and main cavity, I really don’t like to. The dust in there is ultra fine and a strange grey-green-brown color. It puffs around me no matter how hard I try to be slow in pouring out the contents of it’s belly into a trash bag. It matters not if I carefully test the wind direction. The minute I start shaking the filter, even if doing it inside of the trash bag, the breeze re-calibrates and I breathe who-knows-what. I have washed the filter with hose water as a final step, but initially, there is too much gunk on it. Have you ever seen the mud paste you can make from shop vac dust and water?

Besides, wouldn’t it be organic to blow the crunchy flowers where they could settle between the blades of grass, passing on nutrients that the tree had taken from the nearby soil. It was so poetic. In theory.

As a result of my patio blowing experience, I have come up with a list of rules for future shop vac blower use. If it seems repetitive, it’s only because you are at your leisure reading this. These are all important details when the motor is roaring and the blasting air is barely controlled by one arm.

  • Don’t stand in front of a corner when blowing the air right into it. If you haven’t yet understood how hard the air is blowing, you will then. However, the first thing on your mind will be the cobwebs and tornado of dirt hitting you. You will likely try to step back quickly, which will jerk the shop vac up into a position that you are unprepared for.
  • Don’t point the blower directly into an ostensibly empty pot to get rid of that one leaf. There is more than that one leaf in there. Take my word for it. There is more dust everywhere than you think there is.

Using a blower to clean the patio

  • Don’t try to blow the remnant paper-like elm tree seeds from the top of your pot planted with zonal geraniums. Potting soil is less “solid” than the cement patio.
  • Don’t forget that there was a recent hatching of moths that are lurking under the bottom edges of the patio door frame. They don’t like air blowing that hard, and even though their flying skills will be somewhat hampered by it’s intensity, they will still be able to try to jump down your throat.

Using a blower to clean the patio

  • Don’t neglect to move patio furniture before you begin. It will not only provide the same physics lessons as the wall and the empty pot, but as you try to move it while operating the shop vac, it will make horrible dragging noises that cause you to flinch, which will cause you to ever so slightly redirect air flow, which will ultimately redistribute much of the debris into harder to reach places than it was before, like the window well.

I think that covers the basics. There has been another wind storm since I cleared the patio of the original little flowers. I am thinking I should wear goggles and a dust mask if I try this method again. It’s really too bad that my kids are grown and not available for a science lesson in vector force. You see, I do understand the concepts at play, I just seem to be lacking some skill to quickly anticipate what I am creating. Nothing like a hands-on experiment.


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