How to buy the best leaf blower
The best leaf blowers can clear heavy debris without any hassle, while the worst struggle to pick up damp leaves and are a nightmare to use.
Use our expert advice to help you decide whether you need a blower or a vac, and whether a petrol or cordless model is best for you. Then check our reviews to ensure you don't end up buying a dud.
Video: how to buy the best leaf blower
Should I buy a leaf blower or leaf blower vacuum?
The main difference between leaf blowers and leaf blower vacuums is that the latter can also suck the leaves up into a collection bag. However, there are pros and cons to both versions. We've listed these below:
- Typically quicker and easier to use.
- Don't get blocked and damaged by sucking up stones and debris.
- Can't pick up leaves.
- You don't need to spend time picking up leaves manually.
- Some can't suck up damp or large amounts of leaves.
- Some can be tricky to switch from blow to vacuum mode.
Types of leaf blowers and leaf blower vacuums
Cordless leaf blowers and vacuums
Cordless leaf blowers are typically more expensive, as you're paying for the advantage of not having a power cord.
Perfect for clearing complicated gardens with lots of nooks and crannies, cordless models also tend to be simple to use and easy to store.
The smaller models are great for clearing small patios where you need to blow leaves out from around pots. They're also ideal for borders, as they won't destroy your plants with strong blasts of air, and are excellent at clearing dust from sheds.
However, they aren't super powerful, so if you've got a lot of heavy, damp leaves to clear, they won't be up to the job.
- Simple to use.
- Easy to store.
- Suited to smaller gardens and great for clearing complicated layouts.
- Some lack the power to clear lots of heavy or damp leaves.
Corded electric leaf blowers and vacuums
Corded electric models that you plug into the mains are generally the cheapest option. They're ideal for use in smaller gardens, but a bit of a pain if you need to use your blower remotely or around large obstacles such as trees or ponds.
The budget models tend to have parallel blow and vac tubes, and you can change between them with a flick of a switch. This is is very convenient, not least because it means you can clear some blockages by changing from vac to blow mode.
However, in our tests we've found that they lose power when you switch from blowing to vacuuming. They are also less easy to use in blow mode, as the dual tubes make them a bit bulky and heavy.
More expensive options need to be reconfigured to change between blow and vacuum modes. This can be quite complicated and time-consuming, but it means you won't lose power between modes.
- Budget options.
- Some can switch between blow and vac mode.
- Dual tubes can make them bulky and heavy.
- Needs to be able to reach a plug socket.
Petrol leaf blowers and vacuums
Petrol leaf blowers are the most powerful – and the most heavy and noisy – machines, making them perfect for gardeners with a large outdoor space.
Just like cordless models, petrol leaf blowers are also great for working remotely or getting around larger obstacles such as trees, ponds or garden furniture, because they don't have a cord. All you need is a can of petrol and you can work for hours.
You can choose between handheld and backpack models. Although handheld is normally the cheaper option, backpack versions put much less strain on your arms and are easier to handle.
If you pick a petrol model, you'll need to remember to have it serviced regularly to keep it running smoothly.
- Powerful - great for larger gardens.
- Great if you need to work remotely.
- Backpack models available.
- Needs to be serviced regularly.
- Heavy and noisy.
How much do I need to pay for a good leaf blower?
- Corded electric leaf blowers are the cheapest leaf blowers. You can buy a good one for not much more than £50.
- Cordless leaf blowers are more expensive because of the convenience. The cheapest Best Buy model costs more than £100, but the battery life isn't mind-blowing. For better battery life and more features, you can expect to pay more than £130.
- Petrol leaf blowers are more powerful machines, so you can expect to pay anywhere between £100 and £500, depending on the features, brand and type.
Save money on the leaf blower battery
Manufacturers often have one or two standard batteries and chargers that are compatible with a wide range of tools. Before you buy, check to see if any of your existing tools has a battery and charger that can be used with the one you're planning to buy, as this could save you a considerable amount of money.
Alternatively, you may see it as a good chance to buy a second battery for your tools. Batteries are sometimes cheaper when bought with a tool, and it’s often useful to have a second one charged and ready to go when you’re carrying out jobs that will take some time to finish.
Using a good leaf blower or vacuum will make dealing with autumn leaves a breeze, but a bad model will struggle to clear them at all. The following features can make all the difference.
- Narrow nozzle for blowing - look for a machine that has a narrow nozzle to direct the blast, and the ability to control the speed of the air jet.
- Easy access to the mulching blades - check you can get to the mulching blades to clear blockages easily and safely.
- Metal mulching blades - look for a machine that has metal, rather than plastic, mulching blades, as these are less likely to chip or break if you inadvertently suck up a stone.
- Waterproof collection bag - we've found that collection bags that aren't waterproof often leak and leave you with a wet leg.
- Comfortable handles and shoulder straps - look for a soft-grip handle and a padded shoulder strap.
- Storage space - leaf blowers will need to be stored undercover for most of the year. If you have limited storage, look for one with a telescopic nozzle or one that you can take apart easily.
Leaf blowers compared
Below we've listed the key specs and features for some of the most popular leaf blowers.
Mitox 280BVX review, £199
- Type: Leaf blower vacuum
- Power type: Petrol
- Weight: 4.7kg (blow mode), 5.8kg (vac mode)
This petrol leaf blower vacuum from Mitox is on the pricey side. In fact, there are only four we've tested that are more expensive.
Mitox claims that the 280BVX is 'changing the rules in garden tools'. So will the petrol-powered leaf blower vac be a revelation and prove that it's worth the high price?
Stihl Compact Cordless Blower BGA 56 Set, £178
- Type: Leaf blower
- Power type: Cordless battery
- Weight: 3.3kg
This model from Stihl is lighter than some we've tested, which is what you'd hope for in a compact cordless. Stihl claims that the rechargeable battery can provide a generous 20 minutes of blowing power – but does it live up to the claims when it came to testing?
Video: top tips for using your leaf blower
How to use your leaf blower or leaf blower vacuum
- Blow leaves in a sweeping motion - this will help to clear large areas. Blow the leaves together to form big piles, then either use a lawn mower to collect them or switch to vacuum mode to suck them up.
- Clear leaves from gravel or flower borders - blow them on to a hard surface where you can collect them easily or on to you grass and use the to pick them up.
- Use the nozzle - don't just rely just on the jet of air to free up leaves – most blowers are designed for you to use the end of the nozzle to give stubborn stuck-down leaves a little scrape.
- Don't just use them for leaves - blowers are great for clearing snow from your path and sweeping your drive. You can even blast dust and dirt from your car boot.