Leaf blowers have fallen out of favor. It seems people have come to realize blowing a giant pile of dead flora onto your neighbor’s yard is rude, and causes more problems than it solves. Many a suburban war has been begun over loose leaves being blown willy-nilly around a neighborhood. That’s why the smart yardwork hero knows to reach for a leaf vacuum, sucking up and removing the leaves, rather than blasting them around like a jerk.
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The leaf vacuum comes in a pair of builds. There’s the mower-style body, that has a traditional push construction. You run it around the yard, hitting the leaf piles, and it will snap up any fallen soldiers and give them a quick mulch. The backpack or portable style looks more like a standard leaf-blower, but comes outfitted with a bag or hose that connects to a receptacle. Leaves are sucked up via the hollow wand, torn up through a quick pass into a small mulcher, and spit into the container. These are better for smaller yards, as it can be tiresome to get large leaf quantities up into a backpack model. Whichever way you swing, one of the 9 best leaf vacuums will give you all the sweet suction you demand.
As is the case with most lawn and garden gear, you’re going to be facing the choice of gas or electric models. Gas-powered choices are more modular, but louder, and require periodic refueling. Electric models won’t generally have the same amount of power, but are quieter, smaller, and don’t need fuel. You will be dealing with a cord, potentially with extensions depending on the size of your grounds. Most users will be happiest with an electric, as only those who will be far from a power outlet need to go with gas.
Black + Decker BV5600
There’s bigger, fancier models around, but little that is made for small to middling jobs. Admittedly, if you’re working with a lot of detritus, or have a huge yard, this is going to tire you out. The small sack wasn’t meant to do more than handle a couple hours worth of labor, which can have you running back and forth between your garbage can and the actual job. Despite the size, power is not an issue, so a larger bag or a smart collection system will make this work wonders. Purchase: $68
Lawn Tractor Leaf Bag
You may already have the best possible leaf vacuum in your riding mower. Anyone who has already purchased a quality grass cutter might well wonder why spend the money on a new piece of gear when they have something that can do the job. The answer to that is: It’s always fun to buy more stuff. But, if you’ve got a cluttered garage or tool shed as it is, maybe save some space with just this conversion bag. It works with most riding mowers and small tractors, giving you a way to clean up the mean streets without a bunch of space-sucking new stuff. Purchase: $68
Yard Wise Sweep It!
Maybe you like to thumb your nose at authority and save energy. For you, there’s the Sweep It! This isn’t a gas or electric model, but rather a leaf-grabbing satchel that you Swiffer around your lawn. It grabs up larger piles, which will still require raking, but offers a powerless alternative for those who want to save the environment as they clean up. Purchase: $70
Toro 51609 Ultra
Toro has a few leaf blower/vac choices, and none are a true disappointment. The Ultra is a little more special, since it brings a lot of variable settings to the field of play. Able to go from 112 mph to 235 mph, you can get the dainty little aspen leaves to dance about, or you can suck up and churn out those big honking wet maple leaves that are trying to clog up every gutter from here to Vermont. In addition to the variance in speed, the magnesium-coated blade and heavy-duty mulching hardware built into the Ultra is above and beyond what most lawn jockeys have on hand. Purchase: $75
GreenWorks Pro GBL80300
GreenWorks is attempting to prove that a brand can make mobile gear that works as well as gas, but only operates on battery power. While this choice isn’t as powerful as a comparable gas choice, it does get up to 125 mph with its suck/blow speed. Running entirely on battery packs, it’s only a little over 8 lbs. and the batteries can reach a full charge in about 30 minutes. If you want to go wireless, but avoid the headaches of gas, this should be on your wishlist. Purchase: $219
Husqvarna 125BVX Handheld
A hard-core handheld gas hog, you can get 175 mph worth of wind running here, with the decibel level to match. Though created to make short work of smaller yards, you can use this on larger plots of land without too much trouble. It goes a lot bigger than electric models, and even tries to impress its gas-breathing brothers at quickly handling huge projects without tiring out the wearer. Purchase: $230
Cub Cadet Chipper and Shredder Vacuum
Here’s your all-in-one solution for those with highly variegated lawn, garden, and landscape arrangements. The push style allows it to roll over most standard terrain, covering big swatches of ground. Should you need to get up close, the hose attachment allows you to pick exact points, get around corners, or slide into tight spots. It works around plant and flower beds as easily as mowing along, mulching your acres clean at speed. Purchase: $500
A chipper/shredder/mulcher, the CSV60 tends to try to be too many things, and doesn’t blow anyone away with any particular one. For handling leaves alone, it’s an excessive amount of power, bordering on the obscene. For handling heavier yard work, such as clearing brush or slash, it’s woefully under done. If you have the cash to waste on an powerhouse intended to tackle whatever leaves they grow in hell, then go right ahead. Otherwise, you’re spending a lot to get a modest wood chipper. Purchase: $706
Agri-Fab 26-Bushel Lawn Vacuum
Requiring a whole other vehicle to tow it, the Agri-Fab is intended for the lawn and garden pro who will be doing a lot of landscaping for a living. While this probably doesn’t describe you, if you’ve got too much acreage to keep clean, and standard stuff isn’t doing it, then here’s where you go to roll out the big guns. It mulches, grinds, and mauls nearly everything that falls off a tree. Purchase: $1,300