Comparing a leaf blower with a leaf blower vacuum when cleaning up your garden

Last Saturday I was sprawled out in my hammock, a cool bag full of cold ones on the table by my side, and the wife whipping up some burgers on the BBQ.

A big smile spread across my face as I looked up and saw the sunbeams breaking through the gaps in the leaves on the trees above me, and then it dawned on me- it won’t be too long in the future when all those lovely green leaves change colour and then fall onto the lovely lawn that I’ve spent endless hours taking care of.

Dealing with leaves in Autumn is just a fact of life for myself and many other gardeners in the UK, and so to make the unenviable job of clearing all those leaves less of a hassle, you need the right tools.

As well as a good wheelbarrow, it is always good to be armed with something else such as leaf grabbers, a leaf blower, or leaf vacuum, as they will help you get the garden looking neat and tidy again in a fraction of the time it would take without them.

For a lot of new gardeners, it can be difficult to know whether they should buy a leaf blower or a leaf vacuum to deal with their garden debris problems. So, this article is intended to compare and point out the differences between them.

If you are the type f person that dreads all those leaves in Autumn, just spare a thought to our cousins in Oz, who are just coming to the end of theirs. Probably a bit warmer over there though to be fair.

Comparing a leaf blower and leaf vacuum for clearing larger gardens

If I had to choose between the two tools for dealing with a large, open, garden, I would have to go with the leaf blower. My reason for this is that leaf vacuums, as good as they are, only really do their job optimally at certain speeds, so you are forced to walk along at a certain pace in order to suck up the debris. Obviously, this is not ideal with a large property as it would take a very long time to get the job done.

Leaf blowers are great for wide-open spaces as you can move along quite quickly and have the leaves collected into piles at the sides of the garden in no time. Of course, you will still need to use something like a shovel or leaf grabbers to get those piles into a wheelbarrow, but I would still say it’s faster than using a leaf vacuum.

The task of clearing fallen leaves doesn’t always have to be a chore. Just look at how much fun this guy is having on his ride-along leaf blower-

Comparing a leaf blower and vacuum for smaller gardens

A leaf vacuum would be my choice of clearing tool with small gardens. Unlike with a blower, you don’t have to do things in multiple stages, and instead, just walk around and suck up the leaves into the collection bag. The contents of this bag can then be emptied onto your compost pile or used to fuel a garden burner.

A leaf blower can still do a good job of shifting leaves in a smaller space, but you might end up blowing them into your flower beds and other places that you don’t want by accident. When you also consider that you’re still going to have to pick up those leaves to dispose of them, a vacuum seems like the better choice, in this instance anyway. Here’s a clip of a Stihl leaf vacuum in action-

Comparing a leaf blower and leaf vacuum for dealing with wet leaves

Wet leaves are the nemeses of both leaf blowers and vacuums, but I would say that a very powerful petrol leaf blower is the better tool for dealing with them. Petrol leaf blowers are the most powerful type you can get, and they create a jet of air that can unpeel those wet leaves from your patio and path. I have had an electric leaf blower in the past that did well with wet leaves, but all the cordless ones that I’ve personally tested out weren’t anywhere near as good as a petrol machine.

Some petrol-powered leaf vacuums can suck up wet leaves, but there is always the risk that they will get stuck inside and jam the machine, leaving you to take it apart and clear it. This will be time-consuming, not to say extremely annoying after a while, and as I don’t feel like throwing a tantrum and breaking my slightly expensive leaf vacuum, I tend to use a blower for these jobs.

I have to say, that as annoying wet leaves can be when they’re stuck on your path or steps, they can look really colourful and calming-

Comparing a leaf blower and leaf vacuum for more accurate cleaning jobs

Not everyone has open gardens, and many of us have flower beds, garden furniture, gazebos, water features, and many other things occupying space. Using a leaf blower around these things isn’t my number one choice as the leaves can be blown all over and get caught in, on, between, and under, things. You can also damage your plants and flowers with the powerful jet if you’re not careful.

Leaf vacuums are ideal for clearing leaves from around permanent or semi-permanent structures in your garden as they will just suck the debris up and there’s not a chance of the leaves being blown into awkward places and getting stuck. There is still a chance of damaging your plants with a vacuum if it is too powerful, but as most of them have different power settings, you can dial it down and lower the risk to your prize roses. Well, apart from if you’re using one of these mosters haha-


Comparing a leaf blower and leaf vacuum for safety

When you think of either of these tools, danger or injury isn’t exactly the first thing that springs to mind, especially when compared to things like chainsaws and hedge trimmers that have sharp blades.
However, there is still the risk of injury when using a leaf blower as the blast of air will kick up a lot of dust and small debris up into the air and even create dust clouds. These clouds of dust and debris that are kicked up by the blower can affect and even damage your eyes, so it’s really important to wear safety glasses.

Another thing you should know is that both blower and vacuums are quite noisy, and will give you a blinding headache if used for a long time. So, it is my advice that you should pair your safety glasses with some good ear defenders too, and while you’re at it, don’t forget to wear gloves.

This video talks about the possible dangers of using a leaf blower and gives soe safety tips-

Comparing a leaf blower and leaf vacuum for creating mulch

With a leaf blower, you will not get good material for making mulch and will have to shovel those piles of leaves that you create into a garden shredder or something similar. This is more time consuming than using a vacuum.

Due to their design, leaf vacuums actually shred the leaves as they pass through the impeller inside the machine. This results in you having a collection bag full of ready to use shredded leaves that you can either add to the compost pile or use in a number of different ways to help your plants grow, such as dealing with weeds.

Final thoughts

My final thoughts on this subject are that you really need more than one tool to deal with leaves in Autumn and winter. Personally, I go into battle armed with both a petrol leaf blower and leaf vacuum, as well as a rake, shovel, and leaf grabbers. I find that it always helps to have a variety of tools to handle specific tasks.

Now, I realise that not everyone wants to have a garden shed full of tools, so I will eave you with this- If you have a small garden or one that has plenty of obstructions, then a leaf vacuum will probably suit you best. For people with large, open areas, a leaf blower is going to make your garden look tidier in far less time, but you will have to collect those leaves and dispose of them somehow.

These days, you can also get leaf blower vacuum combo tools that do both jobs, but I’ve found that with many of these products one feature is better than the other, so you either get a good blower with a poor vacuum function or vice versa. I have to say that I haven’t tried them all though, so there could be good ones out there.

Whichever tool you decide to go with in the end, try not to think TOO much about it, like this guy🤣

And that’s all from me on comparing leaf blowers and leaf vacuums. I hope you found this article of some use, and hopefully, you’ll want to check out our other informative articles on a wide range of subjects. Ta-ra for now.

About Terry Smith

I’m Terry Smith from, 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. Always feel free to pop me a message:

View all posts by Terry Smith

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.