Best Leaf and Lawn Vacuum for Spring and Autumn Cleaning

The best leaf and lawn vacuums for spring and autumn cleaning are the ones that combine time saving, energy efficiency and low decibel levels. In many cases, this means using electric leaf vacuums, but it could also mean using a gas-powered leaf blower with a vacuum attachment to take care of seasonal chores.

Photo credit: Dean Hochman via Foter.com / CC BY

There is a wide range of products available on the market today, and below I have reviewed 5 of the very best options.

**Below, you will find more detailed reviews, but you can also click the links above to see current prices and read customer reviews on Amazon.

Leaf blowers, and by extension, leaf vacuums have gotten a bad reputation in several areas. In fact, many cities have banned or restricted their use. More than one late sleeper has been awakened by the ear-itching, high-decibel whine of a leaf blower that is distributing debris back over their nicely cleaned lawn.

On the flip side of this, leaf blowers and vacuums can break up debris in those-hard-to-reach spaces, such as cracks in sidewalks, or corners of flower beds. A leaf vacuum has the added advantage that most of them include a shredder blade that reduces the leaves to small bits that are ready for composting, and then deposits the bits into a bag for easy disposal.

Different Types of Leaf Vacuums

​Gas powered Leaf Blowers and Vacuums

Gas powered Leaf Blowers and Vacuums are often Two stroke engines, but Electric Motors Offer Alternatives. The other issue is how to power the leaf vacuums. Two-stroke gasoline engines provide good power and portability, but are exceptionally noisy. They also have the same downsides as gas powered lawn mowers in that they contribute to carbon emissions and general air pollution.

Battery powered leaf vacuums

Battery powered leaf vacuums provide portability, and are quiet to operate but the batteries have a limited charge time and are frequently less powerful than the gas powered models. In addition, the batteries create extra weight when used with over-the-shoulder backpack models.

Corded Electric leaf vacuums

Corded Electric leaf vacuums weigh less than either the gas-powered models or the battery-operated models. However, they are tethered to an extension cord which must either be plugged into an outside outlet or be trailed through a door or window. This limits their mobility.

Things to Consider When Buying Leaf Vacuums

Bag Size and Construction

Bag Size and Construction is an consideration when purchasing a leaf vacuum. There is a balance between the size of the bag and the weight the user can reasonably carry. On the one hand, a small bag with less capacity is heavy as a large one, and the user can expect to make more trips to the compost or leaf container in order to empty it, but it is easier to carry. Furthermore, users sometimes complain about bags that are more permeable, saying that they allow leaf debris to blow back on the user.

Safety

Safety is another concern. Leaf vacuums usually use a whirling blade to chop the leaves and small twigs that are sucked up into the bag. If the housing is damaged allowing the blade to come loose, it can cause injury to the user or to bystanders.

Unit Size

Unit Size also comes into play. It is a good idea to size the unit to the area that will be cleaned. For example, a small patio that is placed near the house might be easily cleared of leaves using a corded electric, backpack model. On the other hand, a person who has a large wooded area or park might prefer a walk-behind or tractor-powered leaf vac model.

Walk-Behind

Walk-Behind leaf and lawn vacuum models strongly resemble lawn mowers. Some of them also come with sod removal features, and some are strong enough to act like a wood chipper for small twigs.

Tractor or even truck pulled or powered leaf and lawn vacuum models

Tractor or even truck pulled or powered leaf and lawn vacuum models are probably overkill for most people’s needs. However, they can be quite effective for park maintenance or for people who have a large wooded area. Some of them are used by city maintenance crews.

Using Your Leaf Vacuum

Practice

Use best practices safety precautions. Although it might seem as if your leaf vacuum should work a lot like a canister vacuum, it has some important differences. Some models will work with wet as well as dry materials, others do not. Most models include the precaution not to use your leaf vac to pick up rocks or other hard material. The blades in your leaf vac are made to work on leaves and light wood – rocks can damage them and cause the machine to malfunction. Like all machinery, do not use a leaf vacuum while taking tired, taking medications or otherwise impaired. Wear close fitting clothing that will not get caught in the machine, or snagged on other things – such as tree limbs. When working around large models, do not walk between the leaf vac and the tractor or truck pulling it.

Consider your lawn or patio size

Consider your lawn or patio size when purchasing your leaf vacuum. One way to save money on equipment and on the energy to run it is to purchase the right size tool for the job. Also, verify local regulations before buying. You can save a lot of time and trouble by making sure that your device will be in compliance with local regulations.

Be a considerate user

Even the electric models are somewhat noisy. Avoid running leaf vacuums during times when people in your neighborhood are likely to be trying to sleep. Don’t run your machine in blower mode when near open doors or windows. Never aim a leaf blower at another human, or at an animal or valuable plant.

Not an approved use of a leaf vacuum or blower.
Photo credit: Randy Son Of Robert via Foter.com / CC BY

Product Reviews - The Best Leaf Vacuum

1.Black & Decker BV6000 High Performance Blower/Vac/Mulcher

Via Amazon.com

Black & Decker BV6000 High Performance Blower/Vac/Mulcher:A good, shoulder-carry model for the price. If you have a moderate yard or patio size, and primarily need something for seasonal cleanup, this is a could be a good choice. It is a corded electric, so no worries about the battery running out, but you do need a good, long extension cord.

Pros

  • The noise level is rated at 68 dBA
  • 250 mph air force
  • Steel blade that will shred leave and chop small twigs
  • Vacuum attachment set
  • Low cost

Cons

  • Some user report debris blow-back when vacuuming
  • Small bag size – 1.5 bushel.
  • Tethered to an extension cord

2. Toro 51619 Ultra Blower/Vac, Red

Via Amazon.com

Toro 51609 Ultra 12 amp Variable-Speed (up to 235) Electric Blower/Vacuum with Metal Impelleris another corded model. It is a little more expensive than the Black&Decker model, but comes with a nice attachment package. It seems to work well on dry materials, but might have a low tolerance for wet material.

Pros

  • Large leaf bag
  • Low noise
  • Light weight
  • Generous attachment package

Cons

  • Mobility limited by cord length
  • Low tolerance for wet material

3. GreenWorks 24322 G-MAX 40V 185MPH

Via Amazon.com

GreenWorks 24322 G-MAX 40V 185MPH Variable Speed Cordless Blower/Vac, 4Ah Battery and Charger Included can let you move away from the house. This model should be run only with Greenworks rechargeable batteries, however.

Pros

  • Battery power adds mobility
  • Handles both wet and dry materials
  • Very quiet
  • Can be charged with house current
  • Low carbon footprint

Cons

  • Battery and Charger not included in purchase price
  • ​Battery powered vacuums are typically less powerful than corded or gas powered models
  • More expensive than corded models
  • Can use only Greenworks batteries

4. Troy-Bilt TB2BV EC 27cc 2-Cycle Gas Leaf Blower/Vac

Via Amazon.com

Troy-Bilt TB2BV EC 27cc 2-Cycle Gas Leaf Blower/Vac with JumpStart Technology and Vacuum Accessorytwelve pounds as opposed to around ten – but is still well within manageable over-the-shoulder carrying range for most folks. An engine starter can be purchased separately to eliminate the need to mess around with a pull cord. If you don’t want to deal with that, it does have spring assist pull starting for easier start up. It is essentially a leaf blower, but it does come with a vacuum kit. With the two-stroke gas engine, it is a bit more noisy than the corded electric models, so don’t forget your noise dampening ear phones while operating it. Like the two corded electric leaf vacs, this is still intended for relatively small spaces, but it will let you get away from the house to clear out those flower bed corners and that area back behind the garage that always collects leaves.

Pros

  • Excellent mobility – no cords
  • Engine starter available

Cons

  • Pull start
  • Heavier than electric models
  • Gas powered
  • High noise level

5. Merry Mac Walk-Behind Chipper/Vacuum

Via Amazon.com

Merry Mac Walk-Behind Chipper/Vacuum - 249cc Briggs & Stratton Powerbuilt Engine, Model# VCB1100M brings us into the bigger machines. This is a gas-powered model that closely resembles a lawn mower at first glance. As the name indicates, you walk behind it as it collects twigs, leaves, lawn clippings and more to shred up and collect in the bag.

Pros

  • Can handle a larger area than the backpack models
  • Reasonable mobility – goes anywhere a lawnmower can go
  • Self-propelled, no carrying needed

Cons

  • Difficult to start
  • Less mobile in small spaces than backpack models
  • Gasoline powered
  • High noise level

Choosing the Best Backpack Sprayer for Your Yard and Garden

The strong favorite here, in spite of the dedicated batteries, is the Greenworks Variable Speed Cordless. It might be a little less powerful than its corded counterparts, but being able to walk away from the electrical source is a distinct advantage. In the urban setting, it is less likely to disturb the neighbors than a gas-powered leaf vacuum, will produce less air pollution, and is more likely to be compliant with urban regulations. It can handle both wet and dry materials – a distinct advantage since deciduous leaf clean up season often comes with rain. Since it is electric, it will start with the push of a button – no time or energy wasted cranking on a pull-rope. It is more mobile than the walk-behind unit because it is a backpack style vacuum, which means that it is easier to take into those hard-to-access areas such as a space behind a garage or out-building, or a niche near the foundation of your house.

The bottom line is that leaf vacuums can help make those autumn and spring clean-up jobs a lot easier, but it is thoughtful to consider the environment, local regulations and your real needs when selecting one to use around your home. I hope this article has revealed some of the issues that have to do with leaf vacuums, and that you have enjoyed reading it, and that it will help you when considering the purchase of a leaf vacuum.

James G. Craig
 

James G. Craig is a gardening enthusiast who splits his spare time between growing vegetables, preening his flower gardens, and blogging about his experiences at the Gardener Corner.

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