Best leaf vacuums: Keep your garden tidy with these alternatives to the leaf blower

·6-min read
 (Kaercher)
(Kaercher)

The Mammas and Papas may have famously crooned “All the leaves are brown” but unfortunately pretty soon they drop all over the lawn, deck, patio, furniture, plants and everywhere else.

Now, leaf blowers have been around for a while but, if simply pushing the leaves next door is not making you any friends with your neighbours, then the new range of leaf hoovers or vacuums are what you need.

Most of the devices below double up as blowers so you still have that option, but the modern leaf vacuum will collect all those leaves in a handy bag that can easily then dispose of. For all you keen gardeners out there, they also shred or mulch the leaves at the same time to make them ideal for your compost bin.

The models tested were a mixture of electric plug-in or cordless with a battery pack. They are designed to be used like your regular home hoover albeit with a bigger nozzle to suck up all leaves of all sizes. They have a bag which goes over the shoulder to collect the leaves or a collection box built into the machine.

Prices range from around £50 to over £200 and all are available from the major high gardening/DIY stores as well as online.

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Bosch universal garden tidy 2300

Power: 3 power settings, Max 2.300W, Min 1.600W

Cordless: Available

Weight: Leaf Blower 3.4kg. Garden Vacuum 4.7kg

Collection Bag Capacity: 45L

Debris Shredding: Yes

Storage: Again main machine parts fit back into box W30cm x L40cm x D30cm, except the vacuum tube which we would not fully dismantle, W12cm, H50cm. Would fit on a shelf in the shed.

This combination Leaf Blower and Hoover from Bosch boasts three different speeds of operation, and can handle wet and dry debris.

Out of the box, attachments click on/press off straightforwardly and only require a single screw to secure. The only difficulty that we found was the hoover tube comes in three parts which are meant to slide into each other and this took quite a bit of force to fully connect. Swapping between blower and hoover is another simple click off/press on.

The variable speeds on both blowing and hoovering allows you go easy on your plants but gives you extra oomph for stubborn areas. The machine is noisy at the highest setting - less than the other brands we tried, but we wouldn’t call it “quiet” as the brand suggests.

Similar to the Stihl model below, everything goes back into the box to store except the leaf hoover tube. Since this was so difficult to assemble, it is equally difficult to pull apart again so we left it intact.

It has a three year guarantee.

Buy now £82.49, Robert Dyas

Stihl SHE 71 Blower/Vacuum

Power:1100W

Cordless Available: Yes

Weight: 4.1kg

Collection Bag Capacity: 45L

Debris Shredding: Yes

Storage: Main machine fits back into box W30cm x L55cm x D30cm. Except the vacuum tube which we would not dismantle, W12cm, H95cm. Main machine and parts would fit on a shelf in the shed.

The Stihl SHE 71 Blower Vacuum arrives out of the box in “blower” mode and the attachments were easy to assemble. It was a little tricky when changing the attachments to/from leaf blower to leaf hoover mode the first time around but becomes easier as you get the hang of it.

The machine is lightweight enough to carry around and operate and the collection bag fits over your shoulder. However, we did find that it slipped off frequently. It shreds as it goes and the bag holds a good amount so we didn’t need to empty it often.

Its powerful enough to handle large leaves and debris. This version is for dry leaves only but it did lift some wet leaves at the bottom of the pile. It worked well on decks, grass and in between plants in flower beds.

When it came to putting the machine away, most parts went back in the box with ease. Yet it was too difficult to disconnect the two parts of the vacuum tube so you would probably leave this connected and store separately.

The model we tested was a corded version but cordless models are also available.

Buy now £148.78, Amazon

MACALLISTER MBVP3000M

Power: Variable power settings, Max 3000W

Cordless: No

Weight: approx. 5.75Kg

Collection Bag Capacity: 50L

Debris Shredding: Yes

Storage: This machine does not dismantle into many parts and so would be bulky to store. Parts fit back into box W20cm x L85cm x D45cm. Comes with two handy hooks so it could be hung up to store.

Unlike the other models tested, this leaf blower and hoover is almost fully assembled out of the box and doesn’t need any changing of parts to switch between modes. As a word of warning, this is a large unit. The main tube is telescopic and slides in and out easily. You need to attach a handle and the collection bag and that’s about it. It has a detachable hoover head (click on, click off) but we found the machine easier to use without this part attached.

This was the heaviest hoover/vacuum we tried out, however still perfectly usable. It only does dry leaves and debris.

There is a “min-max” power control dial which is useful for changing from hard to softer surfaces like patios to flower beds. Switching from blower to hoover was a simple turn of a dial.

Buy now £48.00, B&Q

Karcher S4 TWIN Sweeper

Power: Manual

Weight: 10.2Kg

Storage: Dimensions when folded, 27.5cm x 68cm x128cm. Handles fold down and it stands upright.

For the technophobes, this may not be as hi-tech as some of the other models in this list but harks back to simpler time for a manual option that is good for pesky leaves.

The Karcher Leaf Sweeper looks like much smaller version of those road sweeper vehicles you see cleaning the streets only manually powered – you push it like a lawn mower.

It requires minimum assembly upon opening and folds up neatly to store. The leaves and debris are collected in a box at the front of the machine which very easily clicks on and off to empty.

We tested this model on a deck, patio, grass and on hard surfaces. While it does pick up leaves when pushing it forward, disaster strikes when you pull the machine backwards to turn round a corner for instance: it spits out about half the leaves it just picked up. Don’t try it on grass, it made a right mess of our tester’s lawn.

You could not use this sweeper in flower beds but that really isn’t what it was designed for.

Kärcher do also make leaf blower and hoovers.

Buy now £139.99, Kaercher

Verdict

The Bosch Universal Garden Tidy 2300 is the leader in the clubhouse. It was the lightest machine we tried, has easy to click on/off attachments, and a simple button to change from blower to hoover. There’s different speeds and it can handle wet leaves too. The device is also mid-range in terms of price and that three year guarantee gives peace of mind.

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