Leaves falling in the autumn might look pretty, but they can be a nightmare to clear up. On this page, we review the best garden vacuums and leaf blowers that make cleaning leaves quick and painless.
If you want your garden to look its best throughout the winter, cleaning up autumn leaves is a necessary task.
Traditionally, this has been done with a variety of hand tools or rakes - which can take a lot of time and effort.
In recent years, however, garden vacuums and leaf blowers have become increasingly common as they make this yearly job much faster and easier.
But what does a garden vacuum actually do? This depends on the type of machine.
A typical garden vacuum is great for picking up leaves and other objects. They are useful for small gardens but lack a blowing function. Leaf blowers, on the other hand, can blow leaves into a pile but you need to pick them up by hand.
Some of the best models, however, have both functions: leaf blowing and vacuuming. This allows you to blow the leaves into a smaller area before vacuuming them into a bag. For most people, we think the combination of leaf blowing and vacuuming is the best option.
In the past, many gardeners have considered leaf blowers to be a luxury or only needed for professional gardens. We don't think this is true though - as many of the best garden leaf vacuums for small gardens are available for less than £100.
That's why we've reviewed our top five garden vacs and leaf blowers below. Each has been highly rated by buyers, provides excellent value for money and, most importantly, makes getting rid of autumn leaves quick and easy.
Our Garden & Leaf Vacuum Selection Process
There are a number of factors that affect the quality of a garden leaf blower or vacuum, but three of the most important are power, ease-of-use and value for money.
The best garden vacuum cleaners provide ample power for almost any garden cleaning job. They are also easy to use and available for a reasonable price.
We believe each of the five models on our list below excels in all these categories. They have also been highly rated by buyers, which is an important metric when judging the quality and value of any household appliance or tool.
We've tried to select tools for a range of different jobs and budgets. For this reason, the list includes leaf blowers, combination machines and even a sweeper.
Which Are the Best Garden Vacs and Leaf Blowers of 2017?
1. Bosch ALS 2500 Electric Leaf Blower and Vacuum
The first model on our list is the excellent Bosch ALS 2500. It's a versatile electric garden vacuum and blower with powerful output. Reviewers on shopping sites have also rated it highly, which is one of the main reasons it's made our top 5 list.
As you would expect, the ALS 2500 has strong blowing speed due to the 2500W motor - up to 300 km/hour when required. This is powerful enough to remove stubborn wet leaves that less powerful machines would struggle with. There's also a variable speed function when you need less power, although this doesn't have the option to reduce speed as low as we would like.
Switching between the blower and vacuum modes is quick and easy, as it only requires you to change tubes. When vacuuming leaves the machine has a shredder function. This allows it to fit much more debris into the already large 45 litre bag, allowing you to vacuum for up to ten times longer before needing to empty it.
Considering this is a blower, garden vacuum and shredder in one, the relatively low price tag is surprising. The RRP is £80, which we think provides outstanding value, but the machine is often available for even less than this from online shopping sites.
In summary, the ALS 2500 is a powerful electric garden leaf blower that provides great value. It's perfect for quickly getting rid of leaves and other debris in small gardens. While it isn't as convenient as cordless models, and it's relatively heavy when in vacuum mode, it makes up for this in power and effectiveness.
- Versatile machine
- Outstanding value for money
- Blower, vacuum and shredder in one
- Weight: 4.4kg (3.2kg with leaf blower)
- Max Speed: 300 km/hour
- Price Range: £
- Bag Size: 45 litres
2. Worx WG501E Blower, Mulcher and Vacuum
The Worx WG501E is another 3-in-1 garden tool. It can blow, mulch and vacuum leaves while remaining relatively compact. It also has a unique design for a corded leaf blower - namely an angled nozzle (see picture to the right). The manufacturer claims this helps when cleaning under garden furniture.
With features for blowing and vacuuming, the WG501E is great for keeping your garden tidy. Unlike many other models, you can switch modes with a single switch - you don't need to worry about changing nozzles - due to the parallel blowing and vacuuming nozzles.
Like the Bosch ALS 2500, the mulching ratio reduces leaves by a ratio of 10:1. This means you can fit ten times as much into the provided bag, making it perfect for cleaning larger areas of garden.
Most importantly, the Worx WG501E does a great job of blowing and vacuuming leaves. The large 54 litre bag is a welcome feature, as it reduces the number of times you'll need to empty it, and it has enough suction power to pick up both wet and dry leaves.
Other features include a 12 metre cable, seven speed settings and a shoulder strap. This latter inclusion is important, as the 3.8kg weight means that it's difficult to hold the model in one hand for any length of time.
We think the Worx WG501E provides exceptional value for money. It's powerful, has a variety of speed settings and comes with a 10:1 mulching ratio, making it suitable for damp leaves on almost any surface. The only downside is that it can be quite cumbersome due to the one-handle design and relatively heavy weight, although this is offset by the shoulder strap.
- Corded garden vacuum
- Very reasonable price
- Mulching at 10:1 ratio
- Weight: 3.8kg
- Max Speed: 210 km/hour
- Price Range: ££
- Bag Size: 54 litres
3. Black + Decker GW2500 Corded Vacuum & Leaf Blower
Another machine that combines leaf blowing and vacuuming is the Black + Decker GW2500. It's a corded machine that provides powerful output and blowing speeds of up to 310 km/hour. The machine also has a shredder to help compact any material it sucks up.
Let's start with the GW2500's powerful performance. The motor is 2500W (as the name suggests), which provides ample suction for cleaning up wet leaves. Despite this power, it's a relatively light model at just 3.2kg.
The GW2500's shredder fan is capable of reducing debris in size at a ratio of 10 to 1. This is in-line with the other shredders on this list, but can dramatically reduce the need to empty the machine while in use. The 40 litre capacity isn't as large as the Worx, but still provides enough space for most garden cleaning tasks.
Other features include a carry strap, easy-to-hold design and a sound rating of 105dB. This is loud compared to indoor vacuums, but relatively quiet for such a powerful garden machine.
With an RRP of just over £80, the GW2500 is very reasonably priced. This makes it an excellent option for home gardens, although for larger properties you might want something with a bit more power and size.
If you need a garden blower and vacuum for a small or medium-size garden, then the Black + Decker GW2500 could be an excellent choice. It's powerful, allowing it to deal with almost any task your garden can throw at it, while providing shredding and a large bag.
- Powerful blowing power
- 10:1 shredding debris reduction
- Large bag capacity
- Weight: 3.2kg
- Max Speed: 310 km/hour
- Price Range: ££
- Bag Size: 40 litres
4. Karcher S650 Push Floor Sweeper
The Karcher S650 is completely different to the others on this list. In fact, it's not a garden vacuum at all - it's a garden sweeper - and you certainly wouldn't use it on damp leaves or large debris.
But where the S650 does excel is at cleaning dirt and other small debris from pathways, driveways and other hard surfaces.
It's a push garden sweeper that has a cleaning width of 65cm and side brushes to help with cleaning edges. As it moves, dirt is collected in a bin which means you don't need to worry about sweeping muck into dustpans. It also doesn't require a battery or cord, as the power comes from being pushed.
There are downsides though. Firstly, it can't cope with cleaning wet leaves. In fact, it quickly becomes clogged if used in damp conditions regardless of what you're cleaning. It's also difficult to use on uneven ground, but this is to be expected as it's not really made for this type of terrain.
So it's clear that the S650 isn't the best garden vacuum - but it serves a similar purpose if you have a large driveway or similar area in your garden. Karcher claims that it cleans up to five times faster than a regular broom and the dust container makes it easier to remove debris rather than just pushing it around. The lack of a power cord also makes it simple to use.
In summary, the Karcher S650 is only worth buying for a single specific job: if you have a large, flat outdoor surface that needs to be regularly cleaned of dirt, dust and other small debris. This makes it perfect for regularly cleaning paths and driveways - but if you want to clean leaves or other types of terrain then one of the other options on this list is required.
- Sweeper rather than a vacuum
- Powered by push (no battery or cord)
- Great for cleaning dirt from large driveways (but no good for getting rid of leaves or larger debris)
- Weight: 9.71kg
- Price Range: ££
- Bag Size: 16 litres
5. Bosch ALB 36 LI Cordless Leaf Blower
The Bosch ALB 36 LI is a cordless leaf blower that's designed for speed and convenience. While it can't match corded models for blowing power, the lack of a cord makes it more manoeuvrable. It's also been highly rated by buyers.
One of the great features of this model is the variable speed control, which allows you to adjust output between 170-250 km/hour. It's also a relatively lightweight model.
The ALB 36 is powered by a large 36V battery. This is built with lithium-ion technology, which Bosch claims can power the machine for up to 35 minutes without needing to be recharged.
Other features include an ergonomic design and removable tube for easy storage. The grip handle is also soft to make it more comfortable to use.
Note: The Bosch ALB 36 LI is sometimes sold "baretool" which means it doesn't come with a battery pack or charger. Make sure you check whether a battery is included when you buy, otherwise you'll need to get a separate battery. This can cost over £100 so adds significantly to the cost of buying the machine - although the same battery can be used on other Bosch machines if you own them.
The Bosch ALB 36 LI is a surprisingly effective and powerful leaf blower - despite its lightweight design. It's great for small gardens, although the cordless design makes it unsuitable for larger jobs. It is, however, relatively expensive unless you have other Bosch machines that use the same battery. Even so, we think it's one of the best leaf blowers in its price range.
- Cordless design
- Relatively lightweight
- Adjust output between 170-250 km/hour
- Weight: 2.6kg
- Max Speed: 250 km/hour
- Run-time: Up to 35 minutes
- Price Range: ££
How to Choose Leaf Blowers or Garden Vacuums
If the thought of clearing the leaves in your garden this year has you shuddering, a garden vacuum or leaf blower could be the perfect solution. The models listed above are all excellent, but if you want more information about how to choose here's a brief overview of the most important factors.
- Type. We mentioned this earlier in the article, but the type of garden vacuum is one of the most important decisions. Leaf blowers are great for moving leaves and other debris around, but don't have a vacuum function to pick it up. Traditional garden vacuums are the opposite - they can pick up leaves but can't blow them. The best models often combine the two, but the right option depends on your personal requirements and the size of your garden.
- Power. The power of garden vacuum cleaners is directly related to how effectively they can move leaves or suck them up. Be careful though - a more powerful motor doesn't always equate to better performance. If possible, look for models that allow you to adjust the power output, as this can be useful for controlling leaves.
- Power Supply. There are broadly three types of power supply for a garden vac or leaf collector: petrol, electric (mains-powered) and battery. The models on this list are either corded or battery-powered, as we believe these are the most convenient for small home gardens. But if you need more power with the convenience of cordless - and don't mind paying extra or filling up regularly - then a petrol garden vacuum is probably the best option. In general, however, we only recommend petrol vacuums for heavy-duty jobs or if you have a garden with a large amount of leaves.
- Run-Time (Battery Models Only). If you opt for a battery garden vacuum, it's vital to check the run-time before you buy. Some models last as little as 10 minutes before needing to be recharged, which may not be enough depending on the size of the garden and quantity of leaves.
- Quantity of Leaves. An obvious yet often overlooked question is how many leaves you need to clear. For small gardens, or those that aren't surrounded by many trees, a low-power leaf collector can probably do the job. If you have a large area, a petrol leaf blower or vacuum might be required - or at least a model with more power and capacity.
- Size of Collection Bag. This is another factor that's linked to the size of your garden. If you're going to be clearing up a lot of leaves, it's probably worth buying a larger leaf vacuum so you don't need to empty it as often. How easy the bag is to empty also affects the overall convenience of the machine.
While these factors are all essential considerations when choosing a garden vac or leaf blower, they are far from the only factors. Other things to consider include the reliability of the machine, whether the brand offers a warranty or guarantee, how easy the machine is to hold and its weight.
The best garden vacuum cleaners can make short work of leaves and other debris, making clearing up much faster and less stressful. While there are some excellent models on the market, it's important to consider a variety of factors - such as the type, power, run-time and power supply - before making a final decision on which to buy.
In this article, we reviewed our five top recommendations for garden vacuums. While the type and specialisation of each model varies, they all provide excellent value for money and have proven to be efficient at clearing gardens.
Out of these five models, our favourite is the Bosch ALS 2500. It's a highly versatile model that provides outstanding value along with both vacuuming and blowing functions. It's also powerful and easy to use - which is why it's our top recommendation in this category.
Do you have any questions about garden vacs or leaf blowers? Or do you have feedback about any of the models in the list? Let us know in the comments!