Garden vacuum & leaf blower buying guide
Gather those garden leaves in no time
As autumn arrives, leaves start to turn shades of copper, gold and orange creating a beautiful, colourful display in our gardens. However, it can also signal the start of additional garden maintenance. Keeping lawns and paths clear of leaves can be a difficult task – and if left unattended can result in slippery paths and drives, as well as soggy, waterlogged lawns.
Fortunately, garden vacuums and blowers make it easy to collect lightweight garden debris, such as fallen leaves. Whilst a rake can collect leaves from lawns, and brooms tidy drives and paths, a garden vacuum will help you to do a more thorough job, faster.
Choose a garden blower to make use of just the ‘blow’ function, or a vacuum which allows you to blow leaves or suck them into a handy collection bag.
Also known as leaf blowers, these tools blow leaves and lightweight debris, allowing you to clear paths and driveways and make light work of your lawn. The leaves are collected into a neat pile, ready to be moved elsewhere. They are an ideal choice for smaller gardens where you are likely to be working closer to your compost bin. Keep a tarpaulin, garden sack or wheelbarrow close to hand for transporting the leaves once collected.
Also known as vacs and blower vacuums, these blow leaves or can be used to suck the leaves up into a collection bag, making it easy to move debris to the compost bin. Opt for a model with both of these functions if you have a larger garden with many trees or a deciduous hedge – or if you’d like to work more efficiently.
Top tip: To get the best performance from your blower or vacuum, use when the weather – and leaves – are dry.
IMPORTANT: E10 fuel and how it affects your petrol-powered garden tools
From 1st September 2021, E10 petrol will replace E5 as the most common petrol type in the UK. This change relates to the ethanol content in the fuel where E5 contains 5% ethanol, and E10 contains 10%.
What does this mean?
The greater the ethanol content in the petrol, the greater the chance of moisture building up in the fuel tank of garden power tools over long periods of time. This could pose real problems for you if your equipment is not properly maintained, such as blocking the carburettor or corroding the pipes.
Both fuel types are compatible with existing petrol-powered products. To best ensure the maintenance of your garden power tools we recommend that you;
• Don’t use fuel that is more than 30 days old
• Don't leave any fuel in the tank if the product is to be stored for 30 days or more
Although not essential, you may wish to use a fuel stabiliser to optimise the performance of your garden petrol engines.
If you don’t have access to an outdoor power source or have a larger garden where an extension cable simply is not practical, then a cordless leaf blower could be perfect for you. Cordless models offer many of the benefits of corded models, being lightweight, easy to use and maintain, but offer the freedom of petrol, making them ideal for a variety of garden sizes. They are also the most environmentally friendly power type as you do not generate any emissions and do not need mains power supply.
With advances in technology, cordless models can now run for much longer and can cut larger areas versus older models. Although we state the runtime you can get from your tool where possible, in real world use there are a number of factors that influence the runtime and more information on this can be found here.
The majority of our cordless products are sold as kits, meaning you will get a battery and charger included. Products sold without these are commonly referred to as baretools. The majority also come with interchangeable batteries. This means a number of different garden power tools are part of the same battery platform and will work using the same battery. Depending on the vendor the same battery will also work on indoor power tools, giving you greater convenience and potentially a bigger pool of spare batteries.
Corded electric garden blowers and vacuums are a great choice for regular garden maintenance – just plug in and go. They are often lighter in weight than other models , but are best suited to smaller spaces due the cable reach. Make sure that you’ve got a safe, outdoor power supply and use with an RCD to protect against the risk of electric shock. Check the cable length of different models, go with a longer cable for larger spaces or opt for an outdoor extension lead.
Petrol models are powered by 2-stroke, a petrol/oil mix, and are ideal for larger gardens as well as those with more vegetation. As they are more powerful, they make light work of large volumes of leaves and debris so can be more efficient to use. If you opt for a petrol vac, be aware that they’ll need careful maintenance and there will be an ongoing cost for fuel. You’ll need to drain the fuel tank at the end of the season, and have petrol and oil to hand to fuel your vacuum. Invest in a sturdy fuel can, measuring tools and funnels to make re-fuelling as easy as possible.
If you have a large garden, or will be using your garden vacuum or blower for prolonged periods, consider the engine power. Usually, this ranges from 2500 to 3000 Watts (W). The higher the wattage, the more powerful the tool – and the quicker you’ll be able to work.
If you want to compost your garden waste, consider the mulching ratio. As leaves are sucked into the vacuum, they are shredded. The higher the mulching ratio, the finer the shred. Finely shredded leaves not only take up less space but will also compost quicker.
Collection bags are an essential component of garden vacuums – a larger collection bag will allow you to work for longer before emptying. Be aware that the more debris you collect, the heavier it will be.
Straps and handles
Features such as shoulder straps and adjustable handles will make a vacuum more comfortable to work with – important when working for long periods of time. Wheels at the end of the blower tube can make it easier to move your vacuum around as you work.
Depending on how residential the area is in which you will be using the blower, noise level may be something to consider. Corded and cordless models are typically far more quiet than petrol models and may be better suited to more residential areas with less vegetation, whereas petrol blowers are louder but more powerful so are better suited to less residential areas with more vegetation.
Lastly, think about the overall size of the tool, and make sure that you have space to store it securely in a shed or garage. Some models will allow you to detach the blower tube or separate this into two parts for easy storage.
It’s important to take care and stay safe when using any garden machinery. Always wear sturdy outdoor footwear and gardening gloves to protect against sharp and prickly vegetation.
Consider eye and ear protection when using vacuums and blowers as they can be noisy and send vegetation flying into the air.
There is a range of support available should you encounter an issue with your leaf blower at any stage. If you have bought your product within the last 6 months you may be entitled to a refund if brought back to store, however there is a variety of other support available. We stock a wide range of spare parts both instore and online with matching parts across lawnmower blades, trimmer spools and chainsaw chains to name a few, spare batteries for cordless products and a range of oils and fuel enhancer for petrol products. All our vendors also have aftersales contact support available which can help you troubleshoot any issues and provide any advice on how best to look after your product or in some cases send you spare parts or repair your product. These details can be found here.