If your weekends are spent raking up leaves, grass or other debris in your backyard, you're probably considering buying a leaf blower. These handy gardening tools will not only save you the back-breaking chore of raking leaves, but will ensure your outdoor spaces remain spotless in less time.
Even if you have an understanding of the different types of rakes to tackle your backyard, leaf blowers are a different sort of beast. These tools are designed to propel air out of a nozzle to easily move leaves, grass cuttings and other debris into manageable piles for when you’re ready to dispose or use fallen leaves in your garden. Leaf blowers are especially handy if you have a large property to maintain, and efficient in clearing leaves off decks, gutters or driveways.
But with so many different types of leaf blowers on the market, it can be tricky to know which one is right for your needs. Luckily, we’ve put together a useful checklist of 5 things you need to know before buying a leaf blower. So if you want to save time in banishing those leaves, here’s everything you need to know about these clever gardening tools.
Before you start though, always read the instructions manual of your model, and learn how to use a leaf blower the right way.
1. What are the different types of leaf blower?
Generally, there are three main types of leaf blowers, each designed for a particular space.
Handheld leaf blowers — As the name suggests, these are compact and light to carry. Most of these handheld models will be electric, and will be either corded or battery-powered. The former tend to be the least expensive, but will also require an extension cord so you can use it all around your yard. Handheld blowers are the more popular types for home use, and suitable for smaller spaces like porches and gazebos. It can easily blow away large debris on small-sized lawns, making the task quicker than standard raking. Some handheld blowers offer a vacuum option for light mulching if you prefer to reuse garden waste for compost.
Backpack leaf blowers — If you want a powerful blower with a longer run-time, a backpack leaf blower is ideal. The motor is carried in a comfortable shoulder harness, while you keep the blower tube in your hand. Unlike handheld models, these are typically gas-powered, and more suited for medium to large backyard spaces, garages or fields. In addition to easily blowing leaves and twigs away, they can also remove metal shavings.
Walk-behind leaf blowers — For those with larger backyards and spaces, these types are the least physically demanding. Similar to backpack leaf blowers, these tend to be gas-powered, and can blow away leaves, garbage, cardboard, as well as heavy materials scattered on the ground. Typically used by landscapers, these would need extra care to properly store and maintain walk-behind blowers.
2. What kind of power do you prefer?
Gas-powered leaf blower — Gas blowers are more powerful, blowing air at speeds of around 150-200 mph. This will quickly deal with leaves, trees and heavy, outdoor debris in less time. Since their engines are powered by gasoline, they're much heavier and louder than electric models — something to consider if you’re living in a quiet, residential street. In addition, gas-powered leaf blowers are more expensive to run and require more maintenance. However, they run well and are suitable for large backyards and driveways.
Corded electric blower — Corded electric blowers need to be attached to a power outlet, and can blow between 50-100 mph. These are more lightweight than gas-powered blowers, and require little maintenance. However, the length of the cord can often be limiting for large spaces, so they’re best suited for smaller yards. In fact, electric blowers are ideal for quickly removing leaves in awkward spots or cleaning gutters.
Cordless/ battery-powered leaf blower — If you want the freedom to walk around without the pull of a cord, cordless electric blowers are ideal. Such models are powerful enough to rival low- to mid-range gas models. Cordless models run on battery packs, which can often add to the weight of the blower. And while the run-time for each model varies, it’s always best to have multiple batteries on stand-buy to quickly swap-out when needed during chores.
3. What do you need to look for in a leaf blower?
In addition to knowing the blower’s MPH (miles per hour), another key thing to look out for is the CFM (cubic feet per minute) measurement. Essentially, the higher the CFM, the more area you can cover to blow many leaves at once, while a high MPH output will move heavier debris, materials or wet leaves.
Other features to look out for are speed control, nozzle size, detachable tubes or whether it has a vacuum option for mulching compost. The wider leaf blower nozzles are known to be much better at moving leaves, while rounder nozzles excel at heavier debris. In addition, opt for a leaf blower that feels easy to handle and to maneuver. Finally, consider the noise levels (decibels), as leaf blowers can be incredibly loud. However, you’ll find the gas-powered blowers more noisier than electric counterparts.
4. What is suitable for the size of your yard?
If your yard is fairly large — a half acre or more — a backpack leaf blower will get the job done. It’s more powerful than corded handheld types, and it also has the mobility needed to whizz around the yard without holding (or wheeling) a heavy tool. In addition, this type is suitable for clearing snow and sidewalks.
On the other hand, if you’re only looking to tidy up smaller spaces, patio, porch or driveway, a handheld leaf blower will be adequate.
5. What’s your budget?
Depending on the model, type and features, leaf blowers range in price. Generally, handheld corded models are the least expensive. For example, the Black & Decker 12-Amp Blower & Vacuum is $56 on Amazon, while the Toro PowerJet F700 is $116 on Amazon
If you have a larger yard however, backpack blowers range from $200 to $600 like this Schröder Leaf Blower ($349, Amazon). Walk-behinds can can start from $500, like this Landworks Leaf-Snow Blower Wheeled Walk Behind ($499, Amazon).
As with all things, be sure to do the necessary research into the specifications before buying, and ensure that it will cover your backyard needs.
Find out what happened when our editor used four different tools to get rid of leaves and what worked best. Preparing for the freezing months? Check out when should you stop mowing your lawn for the winter, before learning how to store a lawn mower and protect it through the winter.
Also read about how I've been using this leaf vacuum — and it's a game changer for my yard, 7 lawnmower mistakes you’re probably making right now, 5 ways to prepare your garden tools for spring, how to dethatch a lawn and how much you should water your lawn to keep it green, according to experts.