Written by Terry Smith

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Best leaf vacuum collectors [UK]: Top petrol, cordless, and electric garden leaf collectors reviewed for value and performance

This article was last updated on October 31st, 2021 at 5:36 pm

I don’t know what scares you, but one of my biggest nightmares every Autumn is the garden full of dead leaves trying to make a pigs ear of my lawn. There’s honestly nothing worse for me than looking out of the window on a cold and windy autumn morning and seeing multi coloured leaves covering the lawn, decking, patio, driveway, and even in my gutters and flower beds.

Due to this irrational hatred of Autumn leaves, I have long since done away with the effective, but oh-so-slow, garden rake method of dealing with them, and have owned my fair share of leaf vacuums over the years and just reviewed my favourite petrol leaf vacuum and recently my favourite electric leaf vacuum and mulcher so thought why not expand and put together an overall best available 🙂

This, I think, puts me in a good position to talk to you about leaf vacuum collectors, so I thought I’d write this article to help inform the uninitiated about these tools. We’ll cover the good things, the bad, and everything in-between, and serve up reviews on the products we deem to be the best leaf vacuum collectors in the UK.

Pro tip: Electric leaf vacuums are by miles the best value, wheeled leaf collectors the easiest to use, and petrol leaf vacuums are the best for heavy duty and commercial use. With that in mind, let’s look at the best overall leaf vacuum collectors:

Picks for the best leaf vacuum collectors in the UK – editor’s choices:

Best electric leaf vacuum: Hyundai 3000W leaf blower vacuum

Best leaf vacuum for gravel: Bosch Universal Garden tidy

Best cordless leaf blower vacuum: Greenworks GD40BV leaf collector

Alternative to the Sherpa wheeled leaf vacuum collector: Garden gear push vacuum

Best heavy duty leaf vacuum: Sherpa wheeled leaf vacuum – must have if you like a wheeled leaf vacuum collector!

Best commercial leaf vacuum easily the best petrol leaf vacuum collector in the UK right now: Husqvarna hand-held leaf vacuum

What is a leaf vacuum collector and how do they work?

It probably won’t surprise you to learn that a product called a leaf vacuum is used to suck up leaves, but there’s couple of things you might not be aware of, so I thought I’d try to clear things up, just in case.

First off, it is actually not that common to see a dedicated leaf vacuum tool online these days. Instead, the majority of products that you see on places like Amazon and Ebay are leaf blower vacuum combined tools.

While the vacuum function on most of these combo tools isn’t as effective as a dedicated leaf vacuum collector, they tend to be cheaper, more readily available, and also have the blower function which, for most people, is more desirable. Having said that, it is still possible to find a decent leaf vacuum collector if you search hard enough, and that’s exactly what we have done, so you don’t have to.

Whether a product is a vacuum only, or a vacuum blower, the basic way in which it functions is pretty much the same. Power will come from either a small petrol engine or an electric motor, and that power will allow the built-in fan/impeller to create suction and pull the leaves up a chute. The leaves are then shredded by the fan and then expelled out of another port and into a collection bag.

The shredding can then either be disposed of in a garden burner, used as mulch, or added to the compost pile/bin. These shredded leaves are actually perfect for making compost as their smaller size means they will break down faster.

Some trusted names associated with these tools are Husqvarna, Makita, Bosch, McCulloch, and Stihl.

Stihl leaf vacuum collector

What problems can you run into with leaf vacuum collectors?

When it comes to leaf vacuums of any kind, the main issue you will come across is the fan getting blocked. This happens more with lower powered products than their ‘beefier’ counterparts, but can still occur with those too.

So, how can you avoid this happening to you? Well, you can start by making sure your product has enough power to suck those leaves through cleanly, and choosing a leaf vacuum that has a metal impeller instead of a plastic one is helpful for shredding wet leaves, and therefore reducing the risk of things getting clogged.

Also, keep an eye on how full the collection bag is getting, and don’t wait for it to get too near the top, as this is another reason blockages occur. The last thing to look out for, in order to prevent your leaf vacuum getting blocked, is twigs. These machines are meant to shred leaves, not twigs and branches. For that, you need a proper garden shredder or chipper.

Apart from blockages, there’s the usual wear and tear on the tools, but a little maintenance can keep them ticking along for years to come, especially petrol leaf vacuums. Electric leaf vacuums require less maintenance, but if they actually do break down, you probably won’t be able to fix it yourself.

Collection bags are usually the first parts of leaf vacuums to show signs of aging, and things like the zips breaking and the fabric tearing will happen eventually. Obviously higher quality products will have stronger and longer lasting collection bags, but you can always buy a replacement if you think the one you have isn’t up to the job.

Most collection bags are around the 40-litre mark in terms of capacity, which may sound like a lot, but actually they fill up pretty quickly, so be prepared with a wheelbarrow or something similar to empty the bag into. Alternatively, you could just empty it out onto your soil as mulch, but you’ll need to spread it out, which is time consuming and better left until later.

Here’s a clip about the kind of maintenance to expect with a leaf blower or vacuum:

What can you expect from your leaf vacuum collector?

Ok, if you look online, you’ll see that while some people are extremely happy with their leaf vacuums, others are more than a little disappointed, but why is this?

Well, I’ve read a lot of these comments and complaints, and I think with at least some of them, it comes down to their expectations being too high. They see the performance of a leaf blower as it moves a ton of leaves across the lawn and think a leaf vacuum will be similar. They’re not.

Leaf vacuums are not some black-hole-like creations that will suck up anything in their path, especially not the smaller electric and cordless ones designed for home use. They are mainly used for clearing up leaves from areas where a blower is not a good idea, such as around delicate flowers and plants. Some of the more heavy-duty, petrol-powered models can deal with larger piles of leaves, but even then, there are limits.

Using a leaf vacuum is a much slower process than using a leaf blower, so you’ll need a bit of patience. Trying to jam the end of the chute into a giant pile of leaves will not get you very far, and will just jam up the chute and/or the impeller. Instead, just hover the nozzle a little above the top of the pile and wave it left and right slowly, and you’ll suck up the leaves a little at a time.

If used correctly, leaf vacuums are very helpful tools to have. I always use my blower first, and then use the vacuum for ‘tidying up’, especially when I’ve got leaves jammed in places like under garden furniture, around my ornaments, or in my gutters. If you want yours to suck up and shred a lot of leaves at once, you need to pay more for a petrol leaf vacuum, maybe even a heavy duty wheeled one. Just don’t expect your 50 quid hand held vacuum to be able to compete with this 😀

Wheeled petrol leaf collector – ridiculous heavy duty and too much for the average home 😀

Should I buy an electric, cordless, or petrol leaf vacuum?

Nobody can really answer this question for someone else, it all comes down to personal needs and preference, but here’s a little leaf vacuum pros and cons for you where we point out the best and worst bits about owning each type. Hopefully, you’ll find it easier to make up your mind after reading about them.

Electric leaf vacuums

If you want the easiest type of leaf vacuum to use, and you only need it for light to medium home-based tasks, you’re probably best suited to a corded electric model.

Electric leaf vacuums are generally very lightweight when compared to petrol models, low in cost, and require very little maintenance from the user. Although, as we already explained, if you do have a problem with the motor, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to fix the problem yourself. I go into way more detail than that on my electric leaf vacuum mulcher page though if you’re interested as these are the real bargains:

When it comes to power, corded electric leaf vacuum models can vary quite a lot, but the more powerful products have electric motors around 3000 watts. This enables them to produce a decent air velocity, but still not up to that of a petrol-powered machine.

Range is limited with electric leaf vacuums because of the power lead and, again, this varies from product to product. While the Hyundai vacuum that we have featured today is attached to a practical 1 metres of cable, some other electric leaf blowers have as little as 4 metres. This means you have to buy a waterproof extension lead if your garden is anything other than small.

Cordless leaf vacuums

The best thing about cordless leaf vacuums is that they are very mobile. There is no reliance on the mains electricity, and therefore no power cable, hence the name- cordless. Instead, they are powered by lithium-ion batteries of various sizes, and the larger the battery, the more power or battery life you will have to play with.

The main drawback of this kind of leaf vacuum are those very batteries. They will not last forever, and so you’ll need to either take a break while the battery charges, or have a spare one ready to go. The thing is, lithium-ion batteries can be quite pricey, although there are cheaper, no-name brands selling them online. The quality of these batteries can’t be assured though.

The actual power of cordless leaf vacuums is also usually limited due to the batteries running out faster on more powerful machines. In fact, although there are plenty of good cordless leaf blowers, there aren’t actually many with a vacuum function, and I couldn’t find any dedicated leaf vacuums that were cordless.

Petrol leaf vacuums

If you want the most powerful leaf vacuums you can buy, you’ll need to be looking for the best petrol models. There are two main types of petrol leaf vacuum: one that you hold in your hands (I reviewed petrol leaf vacuums in detail here if you’re interested), and one that is mounted on wheels like a lawnmower.

The wheeled variants tend to be the more powerful due to their design. As you don’t have to carry them around, the engines can be much larger and heavier. For example, the average engine in a commercial, hand-held, petrol leaf vacuum is around 25cc, give or take a little. On the other hand, wheeled petrol vacuum collectors can house engines that are 150+cc, like the Sherpa model we’ll review later in this article.

Like they say in the superhero movies- with great power comes great responsibility. The responsibility I’m talking about is in the form of maintaining a petrol-powered tool. There’s the simple stuff like mixing fuel and tightening bolts, and then there are more complicated things like giving the leaf vacuum a full service.

Petrol tools are always more expensive, heavier, noisier, and smellier, than their electric and cordless counterparts, but if looked after they will give you outstanding performance for years to come. They do take some time getting used to, but I’ve always thought it’s worth it in the end.

You can see how electric and petrol leaf blower vacuums compare in the following video:

Leaf vacuum collectors reviewed:

Ok, time for the product reviews we spoke about earlier. We’ve chosen a good selection of corded electric, cordless, petrol, and wheeled, leaf vacuums for you as our top picks, and offered you our honest thoughts on them.

To my mind, the best electric leaf vacuum for the money has to be the Hyundai HYBV3000E. With its impressive list of features, and a name you can trust, I still can’t believe you can get your hands on it for the price that you can.

Let’s start off with the performance. The HYBV3000E has a smooth 3000-watt motor capable of producing air velocities of 170mph (in blow mode), but there are multiple speeds to choose from for whatever task you have to deal with.

Unlike most petrol blower vacuums, switching from mode to another with the Hyundai is really easy, and only requires a flick of a switch. One in vacuum mode, the power isn’t what it is when used as a blower, but that is to be expected. Still, it does a good job sucking up leaves, even wet ones, once you find the right technique, but really large leaves can get stuck on the end of the chute at times.

The mulching feature works well, and most of the shredded foliage looked to be around a 10th of the size like Hyundai claims. There are always some leaves that don’t get cut to the claimed ratios with these tools, but the HYBV3000E did well here.

Often with lower cost leaf vacuums, the collection bag is far from great, but again, the Hyundai comes through with a 45 litre bag that is not only durable, but also connects really well to the main unit.

Other features include a telescopic chute with nine different positions and small wheels on the bottom, variable speed controls, anti-vibration technology, and very importantly for a corded machine- a 12 metre long power cable. Oh yeah, and there’s a free shoulder strap thrown in.

Talking of which, this next clip shows you what to expect with the Hyundai’ assembly and controls:

A lightweight, yet solid, machine that performs well and will be fine for the average person who wants something inexpensive and reliable. If you have trees that drop very large and stalky leaves, you might want to pay more for something more powerful, but most folks will be very happy with the Hyundai HYBV3000E.

Pros:

  • Powerful for a corded electric tool, with a 3000W motor.
  • Telescopic chute
  • Guide wheels on the chute can be very helpful
  • 12 metre long power cable is a great feature
  • Easy to change from mode to another

Cons:

  • Doesn’t do well with very large stalky leaves

2. Bosch Home and Garden 06008B1070 UniversalGardenTidy

When you churn out new products like Bosch does, you can be forgiven for missing the mark here and there, but I have to say that this company has a very good track record that is now continued with their excellent Universal Garden Tidy, which I’ll refer to as the UGT for short. Before we really get into this review though, here’s a video on this product from Bosch themselves:

This is a blower vacuum designed for light to medium use, and so is easy to use, relatively lightweight, and low to zero maintenance. I would say that it is easy to assemble, but the instructions included were less than helpful, so it’s a good job there are videos online to guide you through it.

Although on paper, the Bosch’s 1600-watt motor should be a lot less powerful than the 3000-watt Hyundai, the difference isn’t that noticeable under real life conditions, and the Bosch is actually quite impressive as a vacuum. There was a noticeable difference in suction when the end of the nozzle was raised a few more inches, but this actually came in handy for working on gravel without sucking up the stones.

The metal fan inside the Bosch does a decent job of shredding leaves, but I did find that after chopping up wet leaves for a while, the tool needed opening up so I could clean the fan of stuck on bits of foliage. This didn’t happen often, and only with wet leaves, so don’t let it put you off.

Bosch claims that the UGT is the quietest leaf vacuum out there, and although it was one of the quieter ones I’ve used, it wasn’t drastically different from some of the others, if I’m being honest.

There is a safety feature on this leaf vacuum that switches the motor off if the collection bag comes loose. The first time this happens, you might think the tool is broken, but it’s actually fine, and connecting the bag properly will solve the issue. The bag itself is good quality and has moisture repellant dirt deflectors to channel the moisture and grime away from you and down to the ground.

I wasn’t too pleased with the power cable though, for one it isn’t as long as the Hyundai, and secondly it is quite stiff and this makes it hard to wind up or wrap around things. It’s a small gripe, like with the instructions, but things Bosch should address in the future. Other than that, it’s a great little tool.

Pros:

  • Surprisingly powerful for a 1600-watt motor
  • Auto switch off safety feature
  • Runs quietly
  • Lightweight and easy to use for longer periods
  • Good quality collection bag

Cons:

  • Wet leaves can get jammed in the impeller
  • Better options for less money available in my opinion

There aren’t many brands offering cordless leaf vacuums out there, but Greenworks are giving it their best shot with their impressive GD40BV model. If you was unfortunate enough to buy one of their early cordless pressure washers and have the batteries then here’s a damn good effort at putting that wrong, very right!

The first thing you have to understand about the Greenworks GD40BV is that there are two types of batteries available for it, and that as standard, they don’t come with the machine and have to be bought separately. The cheaper 2mah batteries are fine for small gardens and very light work, but you’ll need the larger 2mah batteries for medium sized gardens and up.

Also, the power settings you use will determine how long the battery will last. With the 4mah, I used this tool in vacuum mode on full power for about 20 minutes before it needed to be recharged. This might not sound a lot, but this is a powerful machine and you can clear a lot of leaves in that time. In fact, you could probably get away with using the tool on a lower power setting and increasing the running time.

With the cost of the batteries, this isn’t a cheap tool, but it is very good quality. The casing and attachments are very solid, everything connects well, and the brushless motor is both powerful and reliable.

The mulching ratio of 1:10 holds up under scrutiny, and the 45 litre collection bag that holds the mulch is excellent quality. It is so easy to clip on and detach that emptying the bag isn’t the pain in the backside that it can sometimes be, and I was very happy about that.

As impressive as the power is for a cordless leaf vacuum, don’t expect it to suck up leaves that are wet and have been stuck onto the ground through compression, or to get smaller leaves out of long grass. For general tasks though, it’s a decent choice.

Of course, the lack of power cable means you have a lot more freedom of movement when compared to the Hyundai and Bosch vacuums we reviewed above, and this comes in handy for working at the bottom of larger gardens, and working in areas where a power cable would be a nuisance. The flip side of this is the limited battery life and running time.

Pros:

  • Very powerful Vacuum considering it’s a cordless model
  • Good mulching performance
  • No power cable means it’s very mobile
  • Good quality 45 litre collection bag
  • Brushless motor should last for years

Cons:

  • Battery drains quite quickly so you’ll have to pay more for the larger 4mah one.
  • Lack of power compared to corded electric and petrol

Artificial grass has become very popular in recent years as people are drawn to the idea of not having to bother with lawnmowers and strimmers. Unfortunately, artificial grass isn’t completely zero maintenance, and leaves can get stuck in there just like the real stuff. Before we get going, let’s take a look at this handy video:

To deal with this problem, Garden gear have produced this push vac and blower, a four wheeled leaf vacuum with a 1800W electric motor, and a chunky, modern design. This is a good choice for people who are smaller in frame, or have injuries or disabilities that prevent them from holding a standard leaf vacuum.

Although meant for artificial lawns, it can also be used on natural grass, paving stones, and garden paths. The large plastic wheels are durable and roll easily, making it a pleasure to push the tool along, and you don’t really notice the weight of it.

We found that its vacuuming performance was better on artificial grass than on the real stuff, but along with the leaves and other debris, it also sucked up some of the sand from under the lawn. It’s not a ton of sand, but I think over time it will make a difference and you will have to put some more down.

I did notice that the noise levels with the Garden Gear push vac were higher than the other electric leaf vacuums we tested, and you might get complaints from the neighbours if you decide to use the tool early on a Sunday morning or late at night.

This tool is very easy to assemble and operate, and the controls for switching from vacuum to leaf blower, the height adjustment, and everything else are easy to locate and use. The 45 litre collection bag slips into place and connects without any problems too, but the fabric used for the bag could be better quality for the price.

Pros:

  • Wheeled design makes long sessions much less taxing
  • Can be used on artificial and natural lawns
  • Simple to operate
  • Controls can be located easily
  • Well-constructed from strong plastic

Cons:

  • Runs quite loudly for an electric leaf vacuum

If you’re looking for a really powerful tool that could clear the Amazon, then feast your eyes on the Sherpa petrol wheeled leaf vacuum and yes, this is designed for your average decent sized home garden!

With its 159cc petrol engine running at 3400rpm, and creating an air suction velocity of 26 m/s, you’ll have no problem clearing huge piles of leaves from your home, and you won’t have to worry too much if the odd small twig finds its way in there either. Before we go into detail this is a handy video:

Vibration levels are not problematic, especially as you are not carrying the tool, and its noise levels are about what you’d expect from a large petrol machine. I’d say it wasn’t as loud as the garden Gear electric wheeled vacuum, but there wasn’t much between them.

I like the fact that the Sherpa is fitted with a four-stroke engine instead of the more common two-stroke. This means that emissions and fumes are considerably reduced, there’s no need to mess around mixing the fuel with the oil, and generally speaking, 4-stroke engines tend to last longer due to running at lower rpms.

The body and frame of this wheeled leaf vacuum are solid enough, and the collection bag feels like it will stand the test of time, I would have preferred the front to be made from metal and not plastic, and the wheels to have been pneumatic, considering the price of the machine.

The plastic wheels are probably the biggest flaw with this machine, as they just seem too small. This results in a little bit of instability when you push the vacuum forwards, and it doesn’t roll as smoothly as it should.

On the plus side, cold starts are not a problem and the tool will usually burst into life on the first pull. Warm starts were never an issue either as long as you have the gas lever pointing skywards.

The Sherpa is a powerful and effective leaf vacuum and blower, and great for larger properties. I just wish that they’d put some larger wheels on it and made them pneumatic, and I would have given it 5 stars instead of 4.

Pros:

  • Extremely powerful and good for heavy duty work
  • Not too noisy for a large petrol machine
  • Starts from cold quickly and easily
  • Four stroke engine means less emissions, fumes, and no mixing of fuel and oil
  • Good quality collection bag

Cons:

  • Plastic wheels are a bit small as you can see in the video

6. Husqvarna 125BVx Handheld Blower/Vacuum

I recently wrote an article on the best petrol leaf blower vacuums, but for some reason we missed the Husqvarna 125BVx or it would have definitely featured in our top picks.

Husqvarna is a very well-known name in the world of power tools, and their products are famed for being highly durable, reliable, and powerful. This leaf vacuum blower is yet another product that does the name proud.

The blowing speed of 170mph isn’t the highest out there, but it’s more than enough to blow leaves from your lawn and driveway with ease. In vacuum mode, it works incredibly well and the large opening on the suction chute allows you to attack large piles of leaves, and reduce them into mulch in pretty quick fashion.

Mulching is done at a ratio of 16:1 and it’s very consistent. When I heard that this product had a plastic impeller, I was worried about how good a mulcher it would be, but what I didn’t know was that there is a separate metal cutting blade that spins around to shred the leaves. Still, with the impeller being plastic, you can sometimes get wet leave fragments stuck in there.

Husqvarna 125BVx Handheld Blower:Vacuum

Changing from blower mode to vacuum isn’t as straight forward as it is on electric models where you just flick a switch. Instead, you have to connect a pipe to the outlet and then to a collection bag, and then connect the suction chute to the area that houses the impeller. This is very common on hand-held petrol leaf blower vacuums, and isn’t a difficult process.

This is a solid and well put together home gardening tool. The plastic components are made of heavy-duty stuff, and there’s no rattling or shaking to be seen. The motor starts up really easily from cold and warm, and runs incredibly smoothly, even when you vary the power using the trigger.

I guess the only thing that is likely to put people off with the Husqvarna 125BVx is the price. This isn’t a cheap leaf vacuum by any means, and if you just want something for occasional light work, this probably isn’t the tool for you. However, if you want something that can be used day in and day out and keep on ticking, it’s worth paying for.

Pros:

  • Large suction tube can handle a lot of leaves
  • Metal cutters ensure efficient mulching
  • Very solid and well made
  • Reliable and smooth engine
  • Husqvarna tools are known to be extremely durable

Cons:

  • I would have liked to have seen a metal impeller instead of a plastic one for the price.
  • You only don’t buy this down to money


About Terry Smith

I’m Terry Smith from gardentoolbox.co.uk, a professional landscape designer, hobbyist gardener, and barbecue fanatic with 20 years experience building and restoring. So as you go through my site you'll watch me document some of the professional garden installs I make as well as the major projects I take on at home. While sharing those experiences and guiding you, I'll be recommending some great tools I use to enable this along the way so you can really buy in confidence.

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