With autumn comes a deluge of leaves that not only look untidy but can be dangerous as they become wet and slippery. Any gardener would do well to invest in a leaf blower or garden vacuum for the easiest way to tidy up. We’ve reviewed and listed the best options here.
We’ve reviewed a selection of cordless leaf blowers at Trusted Reviews, and the list here comprises the best. We’ve reviewed both leaf blowers and garden vacuums, and products that do both. Leaf blowers are better for large amounts of debris, letting you blow everything into one pile for easy disposal. Garden vacuums suck everything up and can be handy for getting rid of rubbish, but they take longer to operate on larger jobs as you have to move around to pick up everything. Combination tools do both jobs but can be fiddly to set up and operate.
For convenience, we’ve listed our best buy leaf blowers in the list below, but you can read the full descriptions below.
- Best overall leaf blower: Stihl BGA 85
- Best leaf blower for DIY enthusiasts: Makita DUB183Z review
- Best compact leaf blower: Bosch ALB 36 LI
- Best leaf blower for big jobs: Ego Power+ LB4800E
- Best leaf blower and vacuum: Stihl SHE 71 review
- Best leaf blower and vacuum for large gardens: Black & Decker GW3050
How we test leaf blowers and garden vacs
Each time we test a leaf blower or garden vac, we collect 3kg of damp leaves and scatter them over a 40m2 patch of lawn. We then time how long it takes to blow the leaves into a pile. Along the way we look at how easy the device is to handle, its level of power and how loud it is.
For blowing power, we stand at a fixed point and simply use the blower to create an arc in the patch of fallen leaves. We then measure the distance cleared by the blower. We use damp leaves on a lawn; this is where a blower really shows its mettle. For clearing dry leaves and other detritus off hard surfaces, even weak blowers provide ample range.
As for loudness, we hold a decibel meter at head height while operating the device at its usual position to the side of the body.
For vacs we then suck up the whole pile and assess how well the vac coped, checking for blockages, whether it can take in the whole pile and how easy it is to empty. We also assess how easy it is to switch from blowing to vacuuming modes – some multi-tube combi blowers can prove quite fiddly to switch over.
1. Stihl BGA 85
The finest handheld leaf blower we’ve tested
The Stihl BGA 85 is quite simply the finest handheld leaf blower we’ve ever used. Its combination of sheer power, with accurate controls and battery power portability, makes it effortless in operation. Battery life of 23 minutes means it isn’t quite suitable for super-big gardens, unless you’re happy to either invest in multiple batteries or wait half an hour between sessions for the one battery to charge. However, the power on offers means you’ll get plenty done in those 23 minutes.
The downsides are that it’s quite bulky, plus it’s expensive for a single use tool. Weaker battery-powered units are far more compact and lightweight, while Stihl’s own mains-powered combined leaf blower/garden vacuum is nearly half the price of the BGA 85. Other battery-powered models do come at a premium, but the BGA 85 is around twice the price of most rivals. This is a premium product and you really do pay for it.
If you’re simply after the ultimate handheld leaf blower then this is the one to get. It’s powerful, versatile and effortless to use. However, it’s quite large and very expensive for a device that still requires you to bag up the leaves manually.
- Read our full Stihl BGA 85 review
Leaf blower type: Cordless, Dimensions: 987 x 285 x 167mm, Weight: 3.2kg, Attachments: Round nozzle, Vacuum: No, Max air speed: 125mph
2. Makita DUB183Z
A compact leaf blower that’s handy for anyone with a set of Makita cordless tools
If you’ve got a set of Makita 18V power tools, the Makita DUB183Z is an attractive leaf blower for you, and great value, too. This very small leaf blower is very low noise and isn’t just handy for the garden but for cleaning up the workshop floor after you’ve finished a job.
The downside is that outside, this leaf blower is quite slow at cleaning leaves and doesn’t have the force of other more powerful cleaners. It’s still capable of cleaning up, blowing wet leaves over a 4-inch kerb, but the Makita DUB183Z takes a bit longer than other leaf blowers on this list. As such, this is a leaf blower that’s better suited for smaller areas and you’ll need a bigger blower for larger gardens.
That all said, for those with existing batteries that they can use, the Makita DUB183Z makes for a handy extra tool
- Read our full Makita DUB183Z review
Leaf blower type: Cordless, Length: 845mm, Weight: 1.7kg, Attachments: Flat nozzle, Vacuum: No, Max air speed: 116mph
3. Bosch ALB 36 LI
Simple, light-weight blowing with plenty of power for such a compact machine
The Bosch ALB 36 LI is one of the smallest leaf blowers that you can get, but although it’s compact, it’s comparatively powerful. It was strong enough to shift wet leaves over a 4-inch kerb without too much trouble and moved leaves a metre in front of us.
The thumbwheel controls make it easy to adjust the power of the leaf blower, with the maximum setting producing a strong air current to shift leaves. One of this unit’s main benefits is that it is very compact, so you can use it in more confined spaces without any problems.
The only real downside is that the Bosch ALB 36 LI is quite expensive. Still, if you need something small with a good amount of power, then this is the model to buy.
- Read our full Bosch ALB 36 LI review
Leaf blower type: Cordless, Length: 497mm, Weight: 1.9kg, Attachments: Flat nozzle, Vacuum: No, Max air speed: 155mph
4. Ego Power+ LB4800E
A very powerful leaf blower for the biggest jobs
If you have a large garden and want a powerful leaf blower, the Ego Power+ LB4800E could well be the product for you. It’s so powerful that when you press the boost button, you can feel the leaf blower push back against your hand. While the maximum air speed may be lower than on some products, the total volume of air moved is higher thanks to the large nozzle.
Testing it in our garden, we found that we could move damp and dry leaves from 4 metres and move them when they were piled up to 200mm deep. The Ego Power+ LB4800E will even shift gravel, so be careful where and how you use it.
For those with large gardens, the Ego Power+ LB4800E is a great replacement for a petrol leaf blower.
- Read our full Ego Power+ LB4800E review
Leaf blower type: Cordless, Length: 909, Weight: 2.3kg, Attachments: Round nozzle, Vacuum: No, Max air speed: 91mph
5. Stihl SHE 71
A basic but useful combination garden vacuum and leaf blower
For its type of combi garden vac and blower, the Stihl SHE 71 is excellent. Its powerful output makes short work of both blowing and vacuuming jobs, and its ergonomic design makes it easy to use, particularly in blower mode.
However, its shoulder-mounted collection bag is a little clunky, plus its lack of speed adjustment and modest power output do technically put it a little behind the competition, even if real-world performance remains very good.
Then there’s the fact that we’re still not convinced these multi-tube-style models are better than the true all-in-one designs that only need a switch to change between suck and blow. They’re less convenient to use and you have to find a place to store all the extra pieces.
Overall, though, the Stihl SHE 71 is an excellent combi garden vac and leaf blower, with particularly good ergonomics. It’s pretty basic for the price, but is nonetheless a decent option.
- Read our full Stihl SHE 71 review
Leaf blower type: Cordless, Length: 900mm, Weight: 4.1kg, Attachments: Round nozzle and flat nozzle, Vacuum: Yes, Max air speed: 147mph
6. Black & Decker GW3050
A great mid-range leaf blower and garden vacuum combi
The Black & Decker GW3050 is the company’s mid-range option, offering a step up in build quality and functionality from the cheaper GW2200. This means more power and greater ease of use.
One of the highlights of this combi is its backpack collection bag. This takes the strain off for longer vacuuming sessions and provides a much larger overall capacity. It’s also easy to empty thanks to a roll and clip closing at the end.
Also welcome is a variable speed motor. It doesn’t offer as much control as the best but it features several settings that range nicely in power and noise. At low speed, it will clear 2.4 metres of leaves while hitting only 79dB. At full whack, it will clear a whopping 3.1 metres of leaves at 86dB.
The GW3050 benefits from a simple changeover system, thanks to well-engineered clips that hold each component in place. Press the button and the pieces come away easily, unlike some. However, said button is hidden in a small hole, so you’ll have to find a screwdriver or similar to poke it to make the changeover.
Overall performance is excellent, with a great blower range and effortless vacuuming. It’s particularly impressive to find an all-metal blower/shredding fan too. The little rake attachment does come in useful, although equally, can get in the way sometimes; it isn’t a must-have.
All told, there’s just about enough here to justify this combi’s slightly higher price.
Leaf blower type: Cordless, Length: 634mm, Weight: 4.1kg, Attachments: Round nozzle, flat nozzle and rake, Vacuum: Yes, Max air speed: 259mph
That was our pick of the best leaf blowers and garden vacuums. For more information on choosing the right model keep reading.
Leaf blower buying guide
Best leaf blower – How many leaves will you be clearing up?
This sounds obvious (and it is), but it’s important. If you have a small garden then a smaller, lower-power blower or vac should suffice. Most people will be better off with a blower or combi blower and vac, but if you have a large amount of leaves then you’ll need a more powerful, longer-lasting machine to get the job done. If you have a large area to cover, don’t skimp on the machinery, as you’ll regret it later.
Best leaf blower – Do you want to pick up litter too?
If so, a straight garden vac without shredding is what you need. They’re not as good at picking up and storing wet leaves, but they’re a hugely versatile time-saver.
Best leaf blower – Mains, battery or petrol, which is best?
Most battery-powered models will last inside 30 minutes. The powerful models will clear quite a lot in that time, but if your garden is large, and you’re looking to work for several hours, a mains or petrol powered model will be required. Petrol models gives you range, but they tend to be more expensive and are generally something we’d only recommend if absolutely needed. For most households, a mains-powered combi and a long extension cord are your best bet.