The best lawn sweepers quickly and efficiently gather leaves, grass clippings, and even pine needles, giving your yard a pristine look. The clever machines use cylindrical brushes that reach into the grass to pull out debris, which it then collects in a hopper, making it easy to add the waste to a burn pile or to load into eco-friendly lawn bags.
To choose the right lawn sweeper for your needs, investigate the sweeping path and the hopper capacity as well as the style, features, and durability of models you’re considering. Read this primer to learn what to look for, and review a variety of products considered to be among the best lawn sweepers on the market.
- BEST OVERALL: Agri-Fab 44-Inch Lawn Sweeper
- BEST HEAVY-DUTY: Ohio Steel 50-Inch Pro Sweeper
- BEST COMBO KIT: Agri-Fab 45-0299 48-Inch Tow Plug Aerator and Sweeper
Before You Buy a Lawn Sweeper
Lawn sweepers, also known as leaf sweepers, tend to be best suited to lawns that demand a manicured appearance. But these devices fill up with grass clippings and leaves quickly, particularly in yards with dense foliage. This will require frequent stops to empty the hopper, which is a sturdy bag attached to a metal frame that captures debris, before fully clearing the yard.
What’s more, you’ll also need a place to dump the debris, whether beyond a tree line or near a burn pile. Emptying the hopper bag onto the ground and then scooping debris into a lawn waste bag is another option, though it’s far less convenient.
For larger properties that don’t require perfectly manicured yards or properties that have a garden along with a lawn, a riding mower that mulches the leaves and grass to fertilize the land may be the better option.
Types of Lawn Sweepers
There are a few different styles of lawn sweepers available. Knowing which one best suits a lawn’s size and cleaning needs is important. Whether you have a tiny yard that requires an occasional cleanup or a larger property heavily covered in fallen leaves, there’s a sweeper style that’s right for the job.
Tow-behind lawn sweepers offer the most convenience of all styles. These sweepers hook to a riding lawn mower, ATV, or side-by-side to pull across a property. These models are designed with capacity in mind, as they’re able to hold a large amount of debris before emptying.
When it comes time to empty the hopper, users will appreciate the convenient dump feature of many tow-behind models. With a simple lift of a handle or a pull of a rope, the hopper dumps its entire contents. Once the handle latches again, users can immediately return to tidying the yard.
While tow-behind sweepers are good for large properties, they might not be a wise choice for property sections that hold water. The tow vehicle can get stuck or cause ruts, and the sweeper can clog with mud.
Push-style lawn sweepers are great for cleaning small properties without a lot of trees. They’ll do a reasonably good job of picking up grass clippings and leaves, but they typically take more effort to operate than tow-behind models. As the name implies, these sweepers require you to push the unit, requiring some legwork to complete a yard cleanup. Push-style lawn sweepers also don’t hold as much as tow-behind models, so frequent stops to empty the hopper may be necessary.
For large properties or homeowners who want to get the job done as fast as possible, a power lawn sweeper can fill the bill. Power sweepers come in both push-style models and sweepers designed to be trailered behind a mower or tractor (just like tow-behind models); the main difference is power sweepers run on gasoline engines.
Power sweepers are usually about the size of a push mower but can come in large tow-behind versions. Like push-style sweepers and tow-behinds, they use brushes, but the brushes spin at a much faster rate. This allows them to accomplish more thorough grooming in one pass than the other styles. Some also have huge hoppers, making short work of the job on big properties.
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Lawn Sweeper
Lawn sweepers can save time cleaning up a property and are available at a fairly broad price range. Familiarizing yourself with their important features will ensure you make an informed decision. Here are some key shopping considerations to keep in mind.
Manufacturers categorize lawn sweepers by the size of their sweeping path; this refers to the amount of ground the brushes can cover in one pass. Typical paths for both powered and push-style sweepers measure between 21 and 26 inches. Smaller path models will be easier to push but require more passes to finish the job compared to models with a larger sweeping width.
Tow-behind sweepers have much wider sweeping paths—some upward of 50 inches in width, meaning they’ll take far fewer passes than a push sweeper. A wide sweeping width is often combined with a larger hopper, enabling them to hold more debris. This means fewer stops to dump collected waste.
The size of the turf matters when it comes to choosing a sweeper style. For a small patch of front yard grass that must be kept tidy for curb appeal, a push-style sweeper will be more than adequate. By the time the hopper bag fills, you’re likely to be done with the yard.
Those with lots of land may be best off investing in a tow-behind sweeper. They’re far less taxing on the user and can make quick work of cleaning an entire field. When the hopper fills, the user can dump it quickly and get back to finishing the job.
Hopper capacity depends somewhat on the size of the machine, but it’s still worth considering when shopping for a sweeper. Those who don’t enjoy making repeated stops to dump the hopper may choose a larger model, even for a smaller property.
Large-capacity hoppers measure upward of 25 cubic feet, and that amount of damp grass clippings can be mighty hefty. If purchasing a model with a large hopper, make sure it has an easy-dump feature to save on back and arm strain.
Lawn sweepers use cylindrical brushes to sweep debris up from the lawn and into the hopper. The wheels drive the brushes, which spin even faster than the wheels turn. They accomplish this through a transmission that multiplies the number of times the brushes spin in relation to the wheels. The higher this brush-to-wheel ratio, the more times the brushes will rotate per spin of the wheels.
As with any tool, buy the best quality option you can afford, within reason. Most users won’t need a top-of-the-line industrial model, but it might be worth spending a little extra for a sturdy, well-made unit that won’t jam or break after minimal use. The higher-end models often cause far less frustration during both setup and use.
High-quality lawn sweepers feature components made of durable materials, providing for a much longer usable lifespan. Though plastic parts are commonplace, the best lawn sweepers are strong where it matters most, like the drive gear that spins the brush. Also, the highest-quality lawn sweepers have built-in, adjustable brush heights, allowing users to select how aggressively they want their sweeper to operate.
Reasons to Use a Lawn Sweeper
Equipping your yard care kit with a lawn sweeper (leaf sweeper) will save quite a bit of time when it comes to cleanup. It can also offer a great level of detail beyond simply raking or blowing debris across the lawn. The following lawn debris will benefit from a lawn sweeper:
- Grass clippings can be a real hassle to collect. Even when they’re raked into small piles across the lawn, getting clippings from the ground and into a bag is usually pretty messy. With a yard sweeper, raking is unnecessary. The sweeper will dig down to the surface and lift the clippings into the hopper.
- Acorns can be tough to collect—and easy to roll an ankle on, causing injury. A lawn sweeper can handle acorns more quickly, safely, and efficiently than a rake.
- When pine needles collect in a thick blanket on the lawn, they can kill grass and detract from landscaping. Dragging a lawn sweeper over a blanket of needles may take several passes, but sweeping regularly will keep a pine thatch to a minimum.
- Pine cones can wreck the look of a lawn and cause tripping hazards. They’re also incredibly difficult to rake, and leaf blowers have a hard time budging them. Lawn sweepers can help remove them, though it might take a few passes to clear these bulky bits of debris.
Our Top Picks
Cleaning up your yard can be easier with the best lawn sweeper. The following models were chosen according to the considerations detailed above, and there’s an option for almost any yard.
Agri-Fab’s top-of-the-line model cleans up lawns quickly and efficiently. This sweeper uses a 5.1:1 brush-to-wheel ratio, rotating the brushes faster than many other models and putting more bristles to work grooming the grass. It also boasts a massive 25-cubic-foot hopper, which empties easily from the back with a lever accessible from the tractor seat.
Another nice feature is the ability to adjust the position of the trailer tongue, changing how the sweeper trails. Setting the sweeper off-center using this option makes it possible to mow and sweep at the same time. When evaluating this model, however, do consider that it has plastic wheels instead of semi-pneumatic or fully pneumatic rubber tires, which are more heavy-duty.
This 50-inch sweeper from Ohio Steel is a solid choice for pros who need to quickly clean up grass on large properties, for instance, before a sporting event or family party. The extra-large path can make much less work of neatening up a field, while the patented spiralized brushes rotate at a 4.5:1 brush-to-wheel ratio.
The hopper holds up to 26 cubic feet of grass clippings and leaves, so finishing the job requires fewer dump stops. A handy rope, reachable from the tractor seat, makes emptying the hopper a breeze. This large sweeper is heavy, weighing more than 100 pounds, and it can be a bit cumbersome. Anyone who needs a sweeper that can fold up and store away easily might find this model difficult to manipulate around a garage when working alone.
For a double-duty lawn tool, consider this combo kit from Agri-Fab that offers both cleanup and aeration. Users can clean their lawn with the sweeper and then run behind with the aerator to remove 3-inch plugs from the soil. Aerating soil allows as much oxygen as possible to reach the roots of the grass, improving growth and health. Follow aeration with a final pass of the lawn sweeper to pick up the plugs.
The lawn sweeper itself features a 44-inch-wide path and semi-pneumatic wheels that drive the brushes at a 5.6:1 ratio. The hopper has a 25-cubic-foot capacity, giving it enough onboard clipping storage for most medium-size yards. There’s a dump lever to empty the hopper and a height adjustment lever for comfort, both of which can be accessed from the seat of a lawn tractor.
The Advantages of Owning a Lawn Sweeper
Owning a lawn sweeper can make yard cleanup quicker and easier, giving your lawn a tidy look you can be proud of. Depending on your situation, collecting yard debris and keeping your grass clean has its advantages.
While grass clippings can be excellent fertilizer, if you miss a mowing and let the grass grow too long, the next time you cut it, the clippings may be substantial enough to smother your turf. A lawn sweeper can quickly clear up clippings so air and sunlight can flow to the growing grass beneath. The same solution applies to fallen leaves, since letting a dense layer accumulate on top of your lawn can kill the grass.
Hiring a pro to perform debris removal can get expensive. With your own lawn sweeper, you can clean up your yard on your schedule and even make several smaller sweeps throughout the fall, keeping up with the leaves a little at a time.
Owning a lawn sweeper lets you:
- Keep your turf from being smothered by leaves and clippings.
- Save money over hiring a pro.
- Make several smaller cleanups rather than face an overwhelming effort when leaves fall in autumn.
Tips on Using a Lawn Sweeper
Make the most of a lawn sweeper with these helpful tips:
- Wait for your lawn to dry. Waiting for grass, pine needles, and other debris to dry will make them much lighter and easier for the lawn sweeper to pick up.
- Find the best speed. Adjusting the speed of the tow vehicle will affect how well the sweeper operates. While sweepers do have drive wheels, going too fast might not increase their efficiency, and going too slow might not work well either. Experiment with speed until you find what’s right for your lawn condition.
- Sweep your lawn regularly. Lawn sweepers are easy to use, but waiting until grass clippings and lawn debris pile up is not the best strategy. Using the machine after every mow, or weekly during the fall, will make managing debris easier.
Lawn Sweeper Maintenance Checklist
Even a budget-friendly lawn sweeper is an investment, and keeping it in tip-top shape is a great way to make it last as long as possible. This checklist can help.
- Empty the bag after every use. Leaving damp grass clippings in the hopper will lead to mold and cause the hopper bag material to wear down faster. After dumping, check the nooks and crannies of the metal components for clumps of grass.
- Lubricate the drive wheel and sweeper. Dust, dirt, and grime can build up in the drive wheel and the components that drive the sweeper, which can lead to built-up moisture and rust. Keep those components moving freely and smoothly with a spray lubricant like WD-40. Spraying once a season should be sufficient, but also spray any time the unit feels rough or starts squeaking.
- Check the chute for debris. Sticky substances, like pine sap, can cause debris to pile up inside the chute. Such debris will trap moisture that can lead to rust, obstruct flow, and cause other issues. Ensuring the chute is clear is helpful, but you can also wash the chute and treat it with a bit of automotive wax to keep it as smooth as possible.
FAQs About Lawn Sweepers
Lawn sweepers don’t fall into the common lawn tool category, so not everyone has a good idea of what they do and how they work. If you’re looking for more info, consider the answers to these common questions. If you can’t find what you want here, reach out to the machine’s manufacturer and speak to a customer service representative.
Q. How does a lawn sweeper work?
Lawn sweepers use a transmission driven by one of the wheels to turn cylindrical brushes. These brushes grab debris and propel them down a chute and into a hopper.
Q. How do you empty a lawn sweeper?
Most lawn sweepers have dump functions. The hoppers empty by either lifting a handle or pulling an attached rope. The hopper will open up and release its contents onto the ground.
Q. Do lawn sweepers work on grass clippings?
Lawn sweepers work very well on grass clippings, but some models perform better than others.
Q. Do lawn sweepers work on a wet lawn?
Wet lawns are a challenge for lawn sweepers. Wet clippings tend to clump together, getting stuck in the brushes and the collection chute, so you’re better off letting them dry before sweeping.
This guide supplied a foundation of information needed to make an informed decision on what lawn sweeper is right for you. Now that you know how a lawn sweeper can gather up debris as small as pine needles and as large as pine cones, you may be ready to add one to your lawn care equipment collection.