Whether you’re rustling up leaves in Autumn, or raking blossom petals in spring, clearing up your garden can feel like a never-ending task…
Cue the trusty leaf vacuum. If you have an outdoor area, you’ll need to keep it clear of dead leaves and other garden debris all year round. Left to rot, decomposing garden waste can play host to some pretty nasty diseases and, if its turf it’s covering, the amount of sunlight getting through to the grass will be significantly reduced, resulting in poor lawn quality. Come summer, if you’re hoping for a lush green garden with strong and healthy grass, you need to keep your lawn clear during the cooler months. A leaf vacuum is guaranteed to make the job of clearing leaves and other garden debris quicker and easier.
Leaf vacuums work by sucking up leaves and garden debris, which is then captured in a waterproof bag. Once it’s full, you simply need to detach the bag from the vacuum and, without any mess or hassle, empty the contents into your garden waste bin or onto your compost pile.
This buyer’s guide will provide you with all the information you need to know about leaf vacuums and help you narrow down your search quickly, finding a model which is suited to you and your garden without paying for unnecessary extras or features you don’t want or need.
Best Pick – Flymo PowerVac 3000
- Powerful, easy to use garden blower and vacuum with 16:1 shredding ratio
- Innovative conversion system and 10 m cable
- Ideal for easy clearing or leaves and garden debris
- The distinct tool-less quick-change feature easily converts from blower to Vacuum
Only got 5 minutes
Think of an outdoor version of your domestic house vacuum; the difference being a leaf vacuum is used to clear leaves and other soft garden matter. Just like with a house vacuum, the waste is contained in a bag or casing, which can then be emptied into the bin or used as compost.
Leaf blowers basically do what they say on the tin – they blow all the leaves from your outdoor area together, ideally into a single pile, ready to be disposed of manually or to be cleared using a leaf vacuum.
Leaf vacuum Vs leaf blower
|Leaf vacuum||No need for a shovel and brush – a leaf vacuum ‘sucks up’ garden waste and stores it tidily away in a waste bag, ready for emptying onto your compost pile.||Some electric/cordless models may struggle in less-than-ideal conditions and struggle to shift wet leaves or garden matter caught in those hard to reach places. Changing modes on combi models can be tricky and time consuming.|
|Leaf blower||User friendly – typically quicker and easier to use than a leaf vacuum Less likely to incur mechanical damage as a leaf blower doesn’t internalise/store garden matter||Great at collecting leaves but then doesn’t pick them up! You’ll need to move your garden waste manually.|
Once you’ve decided on a single or multifunctional/combi leaf vacuum, you then need to consider the following factors to narrow down your search when it comes to choosing the brand and model that’s right for you:
- How big is the outdoor area I’ll be using my leaf vacuum to clear?
- Style preference – handheld or backpack
- Fuel/power type
- How much storage space you have
- Desirable additional features/extras
- How much you’re willing to spend
- Length of the manufacturer’s warranty and any exclusions
Even if you only have a small garden and don’t intend on using your leaf vacuum regularly, avoid the temptation to buy a cheap, plastic, entry-level model.
The best leaf vacuums are hard wearing and designed to make garden clearing quicker and easier. Although a basic, single-function leaf vacuum might perform ok when it’s dry, and the leaves are sat out on the lawn, practically waiting to be cleared, this is likely to not be the case once the weather changes and a greater volume of leaves decide to fall. Where this cheaper l, lightweight models struggle is when that postcard picturesque autumn afternoon becomes the typical UK September afternoon we’ve come to expect – cold, wet, windy. In these conditions you need a leaf vacuum powerful enough to suck up heavy, wet leaves and retrieve them from nooks and crannies where they’d rather stay hidden; a decent leaf vacuum will retrieve them no problem whereas a lightweight, less powerful model is likely to struggle.
Just keep in mind that you need a leaf vacuum that’s up to the job – spending that extra £20/£30 is likely to get you that bit of extra power, or that additional feature that makes clearing your garden quicker and stress-free – with the right model making the job so much easier, leaf vacuuming is likely to become your new favourite garden chore!
Best Budget – Bosch ALS 2500 Electric Garden Blower and Vacuum
- Variable blowing speed up to 300 km per hour for light sweeping to remove sticky, wet leaves
- 2500 W motor gives powerful performance with up to 800 cu m per hour volume flow rate; adjustable handle and padded shoulder strap for comfortable use without pain in shoulders or arms
- Long working time thanks to shredding ratio 10:1 - more compact leaves for composting. Variable airflow speed: 280 - 300 km/h
- Lightweight 3.2 kg (blowing function) and 4.4 kg (vacuuming function) for effortless collection of garden foliage
- Collection bag with zip and second handle for easy emptying, 45 litre capacity means less time emptying
Types of leaf vacuums and leaf blower vacuums
If you have a large area of fallen leaves to clear, you want to avoid cordless leaf vacuum models and focus on petrol or corded electric models. Petrol leaf vacuums are the most powerful models meaning they’re ideal for using around large outdoor areas and are also good for gardens that contain obstacles and/or features such as ponds, statues, trees or bedding plant areas as they don’t have a cord and so are easier to manoeuvre around corners and borders. Petrol leaf vacuums are generally available in either a handheld or backpack-style. Handheld vacuums tend to be cheaper, however, backpack-style models are more user-friendly as they put much less strain on your arms and, as a result, are easier to handle.
If you’ve got a small area to clear, with lots of nooks and crannies where pesky leaves can and do keep getting caught, then a cordless, battery-powered vacuum is likely to be what you’re after.
You can expect to pay more for the advantage of being free of a power cord although it’s money well-spent if your garden is difficult to manoeuvre around – whether it be an odd shape; undulating; or contain features, plants or bedding plant areas which all require a tentative clean, then you could do without being restricted by a power cord.
The more compact cordless models are great for clearing smaller outdoor areas such as patios or balconies where leaves may have found their way into nooks and crannies, or in or behind plant pots. These smaller leaf vacuums are also ideal for borders too as it’s unlikely they’ll have the power to accidentally internalise your precious plants, and, without too much of a vigorous suction, there shouldn’t be any damage when using it amongst flowers and buds to fish out dead and rotting garden foliage.
Cordless models are great but bear in mind that a lot of their advantages are because of a lower power mode so if it’s a large volume of heavy, sodden leaves you’re after clearing, it’s likely you’ll find a cordless model won’t be up to the job so consider either a mains powered or petrol leaf vacuum over a cordless model.
Corded electric leaf vacuums
Corded electric models that plug into the mains are generally the cheapest option compared to cordless and petrol leaf vacuums. If you’ve only got a relatively small, relatively uncluttered garden, a corded electric model should be more than sufficient.
At the end of the cooler months when you’re leaf vacuum’s work is done and your lawn is clear ready for BBQ season, it’s worth giving your vacuum a little TLC before storing it away. Then, come Autumn, it’ll be ready to go as soon as the first leaf falls.
- Give your leaf vacuum a good clean, following manufacturer’s guidelines, and make sure that it’s fully dry before storing.
- If your leaf vacuum is a petrol model, drain the fuel tank and then start and idle the motor until it stops; this will ensure that there is no fuel left in the motor.
- If your leaf vacuum has a mulching mode which uses a metal blade, depending on how much you’ve used it, it could be worth sharpening the blades before oiling. Oiling should stop the blade from rusting over winter.
- If you have a cordless model, remove the battery and store indoors. Check the health of your battery and consider investing in a back-up battery if necessary.
- Check any straps or handles for signs of wear and tear
- Give the leaf collection bag a good clean as this is a breeding ground for bacteria. Ensure it’s fully dry before storing away.
- Remove and clean any air/fuel filters* in accordance with manufacturer’s guidelines.
*You’ll have a fuel filter to maintain if you’ve gone for a petrol leaf vacuum. Like any motor that burns fossil fuels, fumes and potentially harmful emissions will be produced. However, in recent years, manufacturers have acknowledged that making their leaf blowers environmentally-friendly is a key priority and the majority of petrol models now come fitted with specialist filters, which result in significantly fewer emissions being released into the atmosphere, reducing the negative impact on the environment.
Carry straps/shoulder strap
The best leaf vacuums will come with cushioned, adjustable shoulder straps allowing you to vacuum in comfort.
Some combi models are fitted with wheels making them easier to manoeuvre.
If your leaf vacuum has a mulching mode, go for a model that has metal mulching blades – they’ll last longer and are more robust than plastic blades. It’s also worth checking that you can access the blades relatively easily. If the blades become blocked or need cleaning/removing, you need to be able to do this safely.
When it comes to the vacuum bag, bigger is definitely better! Particularly if your vacuum doesn’t have a mulching function. A larger bag means you can work for longer and keep trips to your garden bin or compost pile to a minimum.
Your leaf vacuum should be stored inside when not in use – ideally in a dry garage, shed or outbuilding. If your leaf vacuum does have to remain outdoors for any period of time, make sure it’s protected from the elements with a waterproof cover. Keeping your leaf vacuum dry and insulated against extreme cold will keep the mechanics in working order ready for next time you go to use it.
Staying safe when using a leaf vacuum
Leaf vacuums are perfectly safe providing you follow the manufacturer’s guidelines and take the following general safety precautions:
- Clear your garden of tripping hazards and wear sensible footwear.
- Use your leaf vacuum on a calm day. Avoid wet or windy conditions.
- Tie back long hair and avoid wearing loose, flowing clothing and accessories which could get caught in the blower.
- Wear goggles to protect your eyes from flying debris.
- Wear ear protection if you’re using a petrol leaf vacuum or you intend on using your vacuum for a long period of time.
- Take note of your surroundings – pay particular attention to young children and animals
- Regardless of which power source your leaf vacuum uses, be sure to shut off the power completely before attempting to attach/detach parts or accessories, or before cleaning/servicing the internal mechanism.
Best of the Rest
- Powerful 3000W motor, tackle tough jobs fast and efficiently.
- Portable and easy to move around the garden using the handy padded shoulder strap and two front wheels.
- 62 -186mph controllable variable airspeed. No assembly required.
- 9 position telescopic chute to suit all heights (70cm - 100cm). 12m cable.
- Large 45 Litre detachable collection bag, empty your waste less often.
- Versatile; Can be used for blowing, vacuuming and mulching
- Large capacity; The 35-litre bag means no mess to sweep up
- 10:1 mulching ratio; The bag can hold up to 45-litres of mulch and the leaves are ready for composting straight from the bag
- Mains powered; No more petrol fumes, creating a greener more pleasant gardening experience, extra-long 10-metre cable
- Warranty; 2-year warranty
- High Performance 3500W AC Electric Motor with Fully Adjustable Power Settings Gives up to 270km/h Air Blast
- 3-in-1 Functions - Simply Switch Between Blow and Suck with Automatic Mulching
- Large Capacity 45 Litre Leaf Collection Bag and 10:1 Mulching Ratio Means Less Trips to the Bin or Compost Heap
- Lightweight Construction, Nose Wheels and a Shoulder Strap Make Working For Long Periods Easy, While the 5 Metre Extension Cable Means You Can Work Further From the Power Supply
- 3 Year Blaupunkt Blue Dot Warranty
Frequently Asked Questions
How will I know when to refuel my petrol leaf vacuum or replace the battery in my cordless vacuum?
Most leaf vacuum models will come with a petrol light, similar to a car, which warns you when the petrol is nearing empty. Alternatively, some models have a see-through petrol tank which will allow you to see for yourself when the fuel level is low.
With a cordless model, a battery warning light will indicate when the power drops below a certain level, which often begins to flash repeatedly the closer you get to using the battery up completely.
How important is a mulching mode?
A mulching mode not only allows you to fit more waste into the vacuum bag but shredding the leaves into smaller pieces also speeds up the decomposition process – perfect if you’re planning on emptying the bag into your compost bin or onto your compost pile once it’s full.
What does air volume and air speed mean?
The best leaf vacuums will be powerful enough to do a good job in a short space of time with minimum effort from you! When deciding on the leaf vacuum that’s right for you, compare the air volume and airspeed levels of several different models. The higher these numbers, the easier you’re going to find your garden clear-up.
Last update on 2019-12-15 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API