I used four different tools to get rid of leaves — here's what worked best

Black & Decker electric leaf blower
(Image credit: Black & Decker)

Over the years, I've used a lot of different tools and methods for raking leaves out of my yard. Starting when I was a kid and my parents set me to work, to now when I have to clean up my own lawn, I've tried a number of gadgets and tools to see which makes the annual chore a little easier. Here's a quick rundown of everything I've used to rake leaves, as well as their pros and cons.

Regardless of which you use, I also recommend picking up a pair of one of the best gardening gloves to save your hands from some wear and tear.

For more gardening tips and tricks, check out our guide on how to rake leaves the easy way, how to use a leaf blower, and five ways to use fallen leaves in your garden.


Fiskars leaf rake

(Image credit: Fiskars)

Least expensive option

Takes the longest to clean up

Ah, the humble rake. I've spent countless hours using plastic, metal, and bamboo rakes to gather up leaves into piles before hauling them to the curb to be picked up by our town. There's a meditative quality to raking, but it's a real pain to lug a tarp full of leaves around the yard, especially if you have a large lawn. But, a rake is the least expensive — and the quietest option — for picking up leaves. This Fiskars 65-inch metal leaf rake ($45, Amazon) looks to be a good, inexpensive option.

Leaf blower/mulcher

Black & Decker electric leaf blower

(Image credit: Black & Decker)

Light, yet powerful
Mulches leaves

Sticks can get caught
A little fussy to switch from blower to vacuum

Nothing says autumn like the dulcet tones of leaf blowers whining away in the suburbs. Personally, I've found handheld leafblowers to be only marginally more effective than raking, but they are helpful in getting leaves out of hard-to-reach spaces. What I like about the Black & Decker leafblower I own — which costs $73 at Amazon — is that you can convert it into a leaf vacuum/mulcher. 

Like Megamaid from Spaceballs, it can go from blow to suck, and grind up leaves and small sticks, which are collected in a bag. It's great if you have your own compost pile. The only quibbles are that it can be a pain to switch the parts from leaf blowing to vacuuming, and that sticks can sometimes get caught in the tube, blocking the airflow. This electric model also requires you to plug it in, so you'll need an extension cord — though there are battery-powered options available.

Lawn sweeper

Agri-Fab leaf sweeper

(Image credit: Agri-Fab)

As quiet as raking
Picks up leaves easily

Doesn't mulch leaves

We had one of these when I was a kid, and it was a game-changer — it cut the time to clean up the yard in half. Basically, this device has four sets of plastic bristles that spin as you push the contraption around the yard. The leaves are swept into a large hopper. And, because the person pushing the sweeper provides all the power, it's as quiet as using a rake, so you won't tick off your neighbors. The only downside is that the leaves aren't mulched, so you'll have to dispose of them yourself. If you're looking for an efficient, human-powered way to pick up leaves, a lawn sweeper may be your best option.

Lawn vacuum

Craftsman Lawn vacuum

(Image credit: Craftsman)

Cleans up everything in one go
Also works as a chipper for small branches


I was gifted a Craftsman lawn vacuum two years ago by my brother-in-law, and it's made raking leaves an incredibly easy task. Instead of raking leaves into a pile, I simply walk the lawn vacuum across the yard — like a lawn mower — and it sucks up everything in its path, mulching leaves and depositing them in a bag. It's so powerful that it will even pick up acorns, which cover my yard thanks to a huge oak. It also has a slot where you can toss in small branches, which it will chip up.

However, this is a gas-powered device, so it is the loudest of all the methods I've used. And, at $800, it's the most expensive, too. If my generous brother-in-law wasn't getting rid of it, it's doubtful I would have bought one on my own.

Mike Prospero
U.S. Editor-in-Chief, Tom's Guide

Michael A. Prospero is the U.S. Editor-in-Chief for Tom’s Guide. He oversees all evergreen content and oversees the Homes, Smart Home, and Fitness/Wearables categories for the site. In his spare time, he also tests out the latest drones, electric scooters, and smart home gadgets, such as video doorbells. Before his tenure at Tom's Guide, he was the Reviews Editor for Laptop Magazine, a reporter at Fast Company, the Times of Trenton, and, many eons back, an intern at George magazine. He received his undergraduate degree from Boston College, where he worked on the campus newspaper The Heights, and then attended the Columbia University school of Journalism. When he’s not testing out the latest running watch, electric scooter, or skiing or training for a marathon, he’s probably using the latest sous vide machine, smoker, or pizza oven, to the delight — or chagrin — of his family.

  • shakyone

    I have 3/4 of an acre, mostly grass, with many large trees. When I used bags, I averaged around 200 large leaf bags each year. I would strongly suggest ditching the leaf vacuum, and consider one more solution, although much more expensive overall. This was something a friend recommended to me, after I struggled for an endless number of years dedicating over 200 hours on weekends solving the problem. I told him I was thinking of getting a leaf vacuum. He laughed at me and said I already had the riding mower, and it was much more efficient. He said he tried the leaf vacuum, but the bag is so large and unweildy when full. The bag also filled up with about the same amount of leaves as a bagging attachment for my mower could handle.

    I perform this task completely by myself, and I expect that to continue for the next 10+ years.

    Items needed:
    Riding mower with bagging attachment and high-lift blades. At least a 42 inch mower deck.
    Backpack leaf blower
    Somewhere to dump the leaves, or a device that will hold the bag while you dump the contents of the bagger into the bag.

    This is not a joke. My contractor was working on my house last fall. I told him I was going to mow up the leaves, and it should take me 1.5 to 2 hours. When I walked away, he told his employees that I was a moron. 90 minutes later I finished both the front and back yard. He stopped me at the end of his day, and told me that was the most amazing thing he had ever seen, and he apologized for what he admitted that he said behind my back. We got a good laugh.

    The method:
    Step 1 - Lower the blade deck to about 2.75 inches, at least that it was works for my mower. Mow the main part of the lawn. Keep an eye on the bags and immediately turn off the blades just as the bags are about full. You do not want to clog the tube, especially if the leaves are damp, and they always seem to be damp where I live. It took me a while to learn that I get about one trip down and back in my yard, and my bags are full. This sounds tedious, but it is incredibly efficient. I then dump the contents of the bags, and go another round. I do this over an over until the main part of the yard is empty.
    Step 2 - Is to don the backpack blower, and blow all the leaves on the perimeter of the yard into the part you can mow. I have a fenced in back yard that I cannot mow the perimeter. Some people do not need to do this. The idea is to push the leaves from areas of the yard that they cannot ride the mower, into the open parts of the yard. Yo do not want to do this first. It is better to have low flat distribution instead of large piles. The mower struggles with large piles.
    Step 3 - Resume mowing and dumping the bags until finished.

    My biggest upgrade was getting my fence gates to be wide enough for my mower to pass through with the bagging attachments connected.

    Every year I thank my friend that suggested this method. I have to do it three times a year, 6 hours versus 200 hours.

    Of note, I do not bag my grass, I mulch it. I only use the bagger for leaf removal. There are also bagging attachment wagons that can be found online, that use the ducting and high lift blades, but are easily dumped versus the typical bagging attachment. I think Silver Cymbal on Youtube has demonstrated this method. I did not buy one, mostly because they are rather large. The cost of the bagger and the blower is about equal to having yard pros come 4 times where I live. That would last me two seasons.

    Take care.