Suprisingly good lawn sweeper
Oct 18, 2010 (Updated Oct 24, 2010)
Review by kthoennes
Rated a Very Helpful Review
Pros:Does an excellent job, exceeded our expectations, very easy to use.
Cons:Bag is taller than it needs to be, release handle awkward.
The Bottom Line: Highly recommended, especially for the price. Excellent product, very happy.
We have a yard of about two-thirds of an acre packed with huge trees. Every fall we spent whole weekends raking, raking, it seemed to never end. Couldn't take it any more. Our parents generously gave us a John Deere X320 lawn tractor (riding mower) when we first bought the house and so we first went shopping for a bagger/collector attachment for it. The John Deere dealer quoted $1400 for that bagger attachment, which eliminated that idea. Instead we decided to try this Agrifab sweeper for $267 at Home Depot. Last one they had for the season, they knocked $20 off the price on the spot. I was very skeptical it would do a decent job, but okay, we decided to try it.
Recommend this product?
Assembly was easy enough, took about an hour. You just have to follow the directions and pictures carefully. It really wasn't a problem if you're at all mechanical; just take it step by step. Threading the bag or hopper holder rods through the bag took some careful review of the directions, just study the diagrams.
It tows very easily behind the John Deere, or any riding mower. It's relatively light for the size so an average person can easily move it around by hand. Some tips and notes to get good performance:
First, the leaves and the lawn have to be dry. The lawn was wet when I first tested it, the wheels spun on the wet grass very easily, and it didn't pick up a single leaf or twig. I was completely disgusted and thought I'd try to take it back to Home Depot. However, I gave it another try the next day when the lawn and leaves had dried, worked great. If you have the brushes set just right for the lawn height, this sweeper will throw an impressive stream of leaves into the hopper and leave the lawn golf-course clean.
Second, you have to have the brushes set just right for a highly effective job. Be patient and experiment. Adjustment is easy, one knob, but you have to try different settings until you hit the "sweet spot." Once you get it right, you can tell immediately, it starts throwing a heavy stream of leaves no matter how big the pile of leaves might be. We use two settings now, one for pavement (lower) and one for the lawn. It's really not designed for pavement, but we have a long driveway and sidewalks and it works well there too. That probably wears out the brushes faster so we don't do much pavement sweeping.
Third, notes on what I consider to be a few design flaws. First there are two bend-y metal rods that pop into the rails inside the hopper that are supposed to hold the top of the collection bag upward. The springy metal rods are useless. They're made of kind of bendable metal like clothes hanger wire, but they don't give you a strong spring action and they constantly fall out. I replaced them with ¼" threaded rod, worked better - although I'm not sure you really need them at all. The hopper stays up pretty well by itself. Next, the unloading handle/arm is a good try I suppose - it's designed to let the operator tip and empty the hopper without leaving the seat of the riding mower. Good thought maybe, but it doesn't really work well. We found it awkward and eventually removed the release arm entirely, just got in the way. The hopper bag clips on and off so easily we just lift the two spring clips, remove it from the sweeper entirely, shake all the leaves out of the hopper, and then clip it back on. We found that works much better. Finally, the top of the hopper is far higher or taller than it needs to be because you can never fill it to the top anyway - the brush/roller will just never throw leaves that high. When the hopper is full the hopper is full, and the brushes can't shove any more leaves to the very top of the bag. That might be just as well though because as it is, the hopper is so big and fills so fast that if it held any more, it would probably be too awkward and heavy to handle and empty easily. The hopper is plenty big as it is.
We've now used the sweeper to fill a 4 x 8 utility trailer, with 4' high side panels, four times with leaves - that's a huge amount of leaves. Our lawn looks like a golf course, when this time of year it's usually a constant leafy, twiggy mess. I was very skeptical about this sweeper and frankly didn't expect it to work. Exceeded all our expectations, we should have bought one of these years ago. We can sweep the whole lawn in half an hour and now we almost never touch a rake and 100 lawn & leaf bags like we did in the past.
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