Why break your back raking leaves or sweeping the driveway? These leaf blowers make light work of a garden tidy
Clearing up fallen leaves or grass cuttings is one of those garden jobs few of us enjoy, especially when the weather is cold and damp. But a leaf blower can make short work of the task, creating big piles of garden detritus that’s ready to be scooped into the garden waste bin or composter.
And if you opt for a garden blower vacuum, not only will you be able to gather leaves, but you can suck them up, too – all with the one tool.
Either way, anyone who’s had to clear wet, mulchy leaves will find a leaf blower an essential bit of garden equipment; but there’s plenty to consider when choosing a leaf blower. Do you want electric, battery or petrol power? How big is the area you’re looking to clear? Do you have timid pets or tricky neighbourly relations that make noise an issue?
To help, we’ve put together the buying guide to help you answer these questions, and more, after which we reveal our top picks of the best leaf blowers to buy right now.
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How to choose the best leaf blower for you
What should I look for in a leaf blower?
Essentially, leaf blowers are a fan in a casing that allows you to blow your leaves into a convenient pile for disposal. Arriving in a range of shapes, sizes and power ratings, from lightweight models perfect for a small garden that you can use one-handed, through to heavy, powerful machines that you will see being used in parks, at the roadside or in school grounds, for example.
These larger leaf blowers are particularly suited to clearing big piles of wet leaves, with their extra oomph delivered by more powerful motors or engines. For the average gardener, though, something more compact should be fine. But don’t choose anything too weedy; the last thing you want to discover is that the model you’ve bought is capable of clearing only half of your leaves.
If you want the ultimate in functionality, look for a garden blower vac. These combine the most useful benefits of a leaf blower with the convenience of a garden vacuum. They can blow leaves into a handy pile, or suck them all up at the flick of a switch – although some are more fiddly to use than others.
Some models even offer a mulching function, meaning you’ll fit more garden waste into your bin or bin bag. With such garden vacuums and convertibles, you need plenty of power to suck the waste in, a solid, leak-proof bag and – ideally – a durable blade that can chomp through your leaves and clippings without taking any damage.
For more on garden vacuums, we have a separate page dedicated to the best garden vacuums.
Which is better – corded or cordless?
Corded blowers tend to be lighter and more powerful since there is no battery to carry and fewer constraints on the motor. However, cordless models have improved dramatically over the past few years, thanks to more efficient motors, lighter batteries and streamlined designs. Naturally they have a huge advantage in that you can take them anywhere without running out of cable. Instead, your biggest worry will be running out of charge, so make sure the battery life covers your needs.
Cordless blowers are also more expensive, particularly if you need to invest in a battery and charger, too. However, there are models that may work with the batteries and chargers of your existing garden or power tools. Models from Bosch, Worx or Ryobi, for example, offer batteries that work across their range of products. What’s more, some manufacturers have joined forces around a battery standard, so that if you buy a leaf blower that uses Bosch’s Power 4 All battery, you can share batteries and chargers with compatible equipment from Gardena and Flymo.
For really big gardens, or areas with lots of heavy, stubborn wet leaves and other debris, your best bet is a petrol-powered blower. These come in handheld or backpack models, but they can be heavy, noisy and expensive – and the engine needs regular maintenance.
What else should I look out for?
Never underestimate the importance of good ergonomics. A heavy blower with poor weight distribution won’t be an issue in a small garden, but if you have a big area to clear then it will become tough on your arms, back and shoulders. Look for straps or grips that ease the burden. Similarly, models that vibrate a lot can be uncomfortable to use, and some leaf blowers can be incredibly noisy; you will need ear defenders and understanding neighbours.
These aren’t the only practical considerations. Is the blower easy to start and use? How easy is it to store? If it’s a vacuum or convertible, how easy is it to empty the bag or collector? Some models have collapsible tubes and detachable nozzles, which can help if you’re short on shed space, but be warned that these can be a nightmare to get on and off.
The best leaf blowers you can buy in 2023
1. Bosch ALB18 Li: Best for smaller gardens
Price when reviewed: From £65 | Check price at AmazonThis is the lightest leaf blower we’ve tried: you can easily use it one-handed, yet it delivers plenty of oomph, with its 12-minute battery life – enough to clear a small garden of all but the most stubborn wet leaves. The long, narrow nozzle is a godsend for hard-to-reach areas, making it easy to direct the leaves towards your pile, “sweep” the patio and clear out cobwebs. The lithium battery, which can also be used with other cordless Bosch tools, takes around three and a half hours to charge. However, to buy the blower with the battery included, the price rises to £78.
For a larger garden you might need a blower with a longer battery life, but if 12 minutes is enough for you then this is a great blower that’s quiet and easy to store – particularly since you can detach the blower tube.
Key specs – Type: Leaf blower; Power source: Battery; Weight including battery: 1.8kg; Blow speed: 210km/h; Battery and charger included: Yes; Battery compatible across manufacturer’s range: Yes; Warranty: 2 years
2. Flymo PowerVac 3000: Best value blower and vacuum
Price when reviewed: From £87 | Check price at AmazonThe Flymo PowerVac 3000 has more than enough power to tackle most gardens, with a 3000W motor that pushes air through at speeds of 310km/h. It has no problems blasting damp leaves off lawns and driveways, even shifting heavier debris. Get it hoovering, meanwhile, and it’s just as effective, shredding garden waste down to tiny fragments, with a compression ratio of 16:1. Combine that with a 45-litre bag and you will be able to gather a big pile of leaves, suck them up and shred the whole lot with just one tool.
It’s heavy at 4kg, and noisy, too, hitting around 83dB at full blast. Still, that isn’t a level that some ear protectors won’t happily block out. In fact, the only thing that really counts against it is that converting it from one form to another is a bit of a pain; you have to detach the blower tube and a fan guard then fit the bag and vacuum tube every time you switch.
Key specs – Type: Blower and vacuum; Power source: Mains; Weight: 4kg; Blow speed: 310km/h; Collection capacity: 45l; Cable length: 10m; Warranty: 1 year
3. Bosch UniversalGardenTidy: Best corded blower and vacuum
Price when reviewed: £80 | Check price at AmazonThis is another blower/vacuum combo where the transformation from one function to the other gets a little tiresome. You attach the slimline nozzle for leaf-blowing duties, or a larger pipe and bag when you want to start vacuuming. The process takes a few minutes and involves attaching or detaching a handle. Nevertheless, it’s worth it, as you get a dual-purpose garden tidying machine that actually does both jobs well.
It’s a class act on both counts, too. It’s surprisingly quiet in leaf blower mode, thanks to Bosch’s ProSilence technology, yet does a great job of blowing leaves around and lifting any damp ones off the lawn or driveway. As a vacuum, it can then mulch the leaves and twigs to pack more into the 45-litre bag, while repelling dirt and moisture to keep the collected debris reasonably dry. It’s light enough to be used without much strain on your shoulder, but is still fantastically well built. It doesn’t quite deliver the convenience of the cordless models, or the raw grunt of the Flymo PowerVac, but the UniversalGardenTidy makes clearing leaves easy, and almost fun.
Key specs – Type: Blower and vacuum; Power source: Mains; Weight: 3.4 to 4.7kg; Blow speed: 165-285km/h; Collection capacity: 45l; Cable length: 10m; Warranty: 1 year
4. Worx WG583E: The most powerful cordless combo
Price when reviewed: From £150 | Check price at AmazonThe Worx WG583E has a similar design to the Flymo PowerVac and the Bosch UniversalGardenTidy, but with two big differences. First, the conversion from blower to vacuum and back feels easier and, second, there’s no trailing cable. It’s a beefy little beast, hurling out huge amounts of air on its highest power setting to send leaves flying across the lawn. Switch to vacuum mode and it will suck up great piles of them in seconds, then neatly shred and compact them so that they barely fill the 35-litre collection bag. Big, damp leaves aren’t a problem, and it even tackled patches of moss thrown down by the local seagulls and conifer clippings from a hedge.
The downside here is battery life. On full power you will practically see the indicator run down, lucky if you get more than 10 minutes of vacuuming. Engage Eco mode, however, and you can double that lifespan and still pick up or blow dry leaves. It’s still worth having a spare set of batteries with this one, and it works best when you have some other Worx gear across which you can share the units.
Key specs – Type: Blower and vacuum; Power source: 2x 20v Max batteries; Weight: 2.9 to 3.8kg; Blow speed: 335km/h; Collection capacity: 35l; Cable length: N/A; Warranty: 1 year
5. Ryobi 18V One+ HP Cordless Brushless Whisper Blower: Best quiet leaf blower
Price when reviewed: From £114 | Check price at RyobiPart of Ryobi’s superlative One+ battery ecosystem, the Whisper-series blower does what it says on the tin. At 80.7db, it’s quiet enough not to upset neighbours or scare nearby pets; in fact, it’s no louder than your average electric lawn mower. That’s useful, because the quieter it is, the more likely you are to use it. Vibrations are minimal, too.
Weighing in at just 2.5kg without a battery, and no more than 3.7kg with the largest battery, it’s light enough to use for extended periods. While there’s no shoulder strap, the ergonomics are first-rate, so you don’t really need one – even if you’re attempting to work the 610m2 maximum coverage Ryobi claims. The only flies in the ointment are a lack of a “cruise control” function, even if the trigger is well placed, and a wide tube that means the airflow isn’t as focused as some.
Still, with its 177km/h blow speed, it made short work of leaves, twigs and sawdust from a recent DIY project, meaning it’s more than up to the job for the average gardener. And when you’re done, the nozzle detaches at the touch of a button for easy storage.
Key specs – Type: Leaf blower; Power source: Battery; Weight: 2.5kg; Blow speed: 177km/h; Battery and charger included in the price: No; Battery compatible across manufacturer’s range: Yes; Warranty: 3 years
6. Worx WG543E: Best compact cordless blower
Price when reviewed: From £180 | Check price at AmazonThis Worx leaf blower is so light and compact that it’s hard to imagine it blowing the skin off a rice pudding. You can easily use it one-handed and, with the nozzle at its least extended, it’s under 80cm long. Yet the clever design uses air amplifier technology to drive more air through the tube than you might expect, at speeds of up to 209km/h. This gives it more than enough puff to separate soggy leaves from a lawn or driveway, and scatter dryer leaves in all directions. In fact, it’s worth switching down to the lower power setting just to give you a better chance of shaping them into some kind of pile. It’s also great for clearing debris off your decking, or even drying off the car post-wash.
Worx sells the WG543E with a 4A PowerShare battery and charger, and this will give you enough charge for a good 20 minutes of blasting, slightly more at the lower power setting. You can also use other Worx PowerShare batteries, although the most common 2A units will only deliver half that lifespan.
It might be small, but don’t underestimate it: this compact, convenient blower gets the job done in style.
Key specs – Type: Blower; Power source: 1 x 20V Max batteries; Weight: 1.79kg; Blow speed: 209km/h; Collection capacity: N/A; Cable length: N/A; Warranty: 1 year
7. Gardena PowerJet 18V P4A: Best cordless blower for smaller gardens
Price when reviewed: From £100 | Check price at AmazonThe PowerJet 18V P4A delivers plenty of power for shifting leaves from a sodden lawn or driveway, but it’s a blower that makes life easy on the arms. With a noise output of just under 75dB at maximum power, it’s also surprisingly quiet.
The Gardena works with Power For All batteries, however in this case with the lighter 18V variety. We tested this model with the 2A battery and although we didn’t expect the greatest stamina, it maintained a solid 25 minutes of blasting leaves around the lawn. The clear LED charge indicator and detachable precision nozzle is also a nice touch, which you can use to persuade adamant leaves or piles of debris to shift from your grass or borders. After use, removing the main nozzle is a pretty simple manoeuvre, making for easy storage. If you don’t have an existing Power For All kit then you’ll need to budget a further £60 to £90 for a battery and charger, but even then this blower is excellent value.
Key specs – Type: Blower; Batteries: 1 x 18V Power For All, 2A or 4A; Dimensions: 92 x 26 x 16cm; Weight: 2.8kg; Blow speed: 100km/h; Collection capacity: N/A; Warranty: 3 year
8. Bosch AdvancedLeafBlower 36V-750: Best cordless blower overall
Price when reviewed: From £144 | Check price at AmazonBosch’s cordless blower is more potent than the specs might propose. At its maximum power setting, even the most unyielding, wettest leaves couldn’t stand strong against its force. Precarious leaves entangled in low-lying plants around the driveway were hurled free into a pile against the wall. Yet, with the help of its easy under-thumb power dial on the handle, you can reign the power in to deal with lighter leaves or gather what you’ve collected into a manageable pile. It’s a remarkably easy tool to work with.
At just under 90dB, it’s a little noisier at its maximum setting than some leaf blowers, and also a little heavier – however the ergonomic handle and well-balanced design still allows you to comfortably operate it single-handed. It works with Bosch’s 36V Power For All batteries in lieu of the more common 18V variety, and the 4A battery we tested it with persisted for around 25 minutes of strenuous garden maintenance before sputtering out. If you’re not overly fussed about vacuuming and mulching, this is the best cordless leaf blower to buy.
Key specs – Type: Blower; Batteries: 1 x 36V Power For All, 2A or 4A; Dimensions: 81 x 25 x 21cm; Weight: 2.8kg; Blow speed: 100-200km/h; Collection capacity: N/A; Warranty: 1 year