Buyer’s Guide: Leaf Vacuums
To rid your yard of autumn leaves without picking up a rake, take a stroll through this guide to find the right machine for you.
While turning leaves are lovely, once they start to drop, the task of clearing walkways and readying your yard for winter begins. So now’s a good time to consider adding a leaf vacuum to your gardening gear. Unlike familiar leaf blowers, which disperse organic debris, leaf vacuums suck fallen foliage through a tube and into a bag attached to the end for manual disposal. These devices, ranging anywhere from $50 to several hundred dollars, are handy for tidying up small yards as well as banishing leaf buildup beneath hedges and flowerbeds. Check out some important shopping considerations here—as well as three top-rated picks—to choose the best leaf vacuum that best suits your property and purposes.
Pick a power source.
Like lawnmowers, leaf vacuums are available in gas- and electric-powered versions; plus, there are also rechargeable battery models on the market. Gas may offer greater power and the ability to cover lots of ground in one go, but these models can run loud, emit fumes, and require you to maintain the right gas to oil ratio. While electric leaf vacuums are quieter and easier to maintain, they’re best suited to modest-sized outdoor spaces, require plugging into an electrical outlet, and often require an extension cord to allow enough room to roam. Rechargeable leaf vacuums are compact enough to be easily stored, but they cover the least amount of ground and must be recharged between uses.
Consider suction speed and power.
Check a leaf vacuum’s product descriptions for two numbers: the MPH and the CFM. MPH stands for miles per hour—in this case referring to the how quickly air is suctioned into the unit and through the tube. Most run between 110 and 180 MPH, although some may reach extremes of 250 MPH or so.
Somewhat more important than airspeed, however, is CFM, or cubic feet per minute. This tells how much air moves through the vacuum in the span of 60 seconds, indicating how powerful the unit is. While MPH gives you an idea of how quickly leaves can go through the tube, CFM tells you how much can go through at once. CFM rankings for leaf vacuums range from around 150 to 600. A less expensive unit with a CFM under 200 may be all you need to clean up an apartment balcony or a small yard, but, for larger areas, you may wish to invest in a higher-CFM unit.
Factor in the extras.
Some leaf vacuums offer bells and whistles beyond simple suction. In fact, most vacuums these days are actually leaf blowers with a vacuum function, which gives you the choice of, say, simply clearing a walkway with a blower or completely removing leaves from your patio area with a vacuum. Vacuums are best suited for smaller outdoor spaces, like those surrounding apartments and duplexes. Some models also offer a mulching option, great for repurposing those leaves into healthy plant beds.
After thoroughly comparing leaf vacuum reviews from consumers and publishers alike, we’ve rounded up three of the most highly rated models available today to help you find one that fits your yard and garden’s needs and your family’s budget. Check out the best leaf vacuum options below!
Toro 51619 Ultra Blower/Vac ($70)
This Toro unit topped the 2017 list of best leaf blowers and vacuums compiled by expert product reviewers at The Spruce. It offers a cool combo of speed (250 MPH) and power (410 CFM) for its budget-friendly price. Packing a triple punch with vacuuming, blowing, and mulching capabilities, it’s a multi-purpose electric model noted for its durability and ease of use. Available on Amazon.
Husqvarna 125BVX Handheld Gas Leaf Blower with Vacuum Kit ($199)
This multi-purpose, gas-powered blower/vacuum earned more than 400 4-star reviews from satisfied Lowe’s customers. The high-powered (170 MPH, 470 CFM) model covers larger areas more quickly than many corded and battery-powered counterparts, and as one fan puts it, “It has outstanding power and the vacuum portion is amazing.” A mulching function is also available while the unit is in vacuum mode. Available at Lowe’s.
Greenworks 24322 Cordless Blower/Vac ($177)
The Greenworks 24322 is a convenient device thanks to an easily rechargeable battery that happens to be compatible with all Greenworks tools. Clocking in at 185 MPH with 340 CFM, what it lacks in power it makes up for with its modest size and extremely light weight—under 6 pounds. Ideal for patios and porches, this apartment-friendly tool earns praise for ease of use and reliable performance. Available on Amazon.