12 best leaf blowers that make light work of autumnal gardening duties
Retire the rake and add one of these powerful machines to your kit
Autumn may be the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness, but it’s also the season of not being able to see your lawn thanks to a carpet of dead leaves, fallen fruit and other windblown garden debris.
A leaf blower is going to help you deal with whatever accumulates outside your window and two of the most important metrics you need to understand when buying are the air volume and air speed that the machine is capable of generating.
Air volume is measured in cubic feet per minute (cfm) and will give you an idea of how capable the machine is in breaking up and lifting the heavier materials that have been dumped on your turf, like heaps of wet leaves or piles of dirt.
The other measurement is air speed, measured in mph, which is what allows you to get stubborn or trapped objects moving again – think material in between decking boards or a stubborn apple trapped in a tree root.
The higher these numbers, the easier you’re going to find your clean up. So we took up the season’s challenge with a range of machines to figure out which ones are best to arm yourself with this autumn.
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Ego LB6002E backpack leaf blower: £369, Ego Power Plus
Ego has realised that the combination of backpack and battery appeals not only to homeowners with large plots, but also those with smaller gardens who find handhelds too cumbersome and unwieldy. The ergonomics are faultless on this model with a lightweight rig strapping to your back featuring chest and hip belts, which transfers the weight of the battery evenly and doesn’t leave you with an aching back even after an extended period.
The considered design continues in the actual blower arm, which features a flexible tube that makes the nozzle easy to operate and direct the powerful 145mph airflow, which runs from 320cfm to 600cfm. That meant that we had no problem shifting dry materials with the power dialled down and denser, wetter patches of debris were broken up easily when we turned on the machine’s turbo mode.
Spear & Jackson S30BLV corded leaf blower and vac: £60, Argos
This electric machine packs a heavyweight punch with an unparalleled blast of air (186mph) for its price category. We had no problem getting rid of anything that the season deposited on us with the machine easily clearing 300sqm of lawn and patio in 45 minutes, without us having to worry about losing power. The blower is well designed for a prolonged assault on the garden with vacuum and shredding functions just a flick of a switch away. Added value comes with a three-year guarantee and if you add an extension lead to the already generous 10M long cable, it’s even a solid option for anyone with a larger lawn area.
Worx WG505E triviac garden blower mulcher & vacuum: £74.99, Amazon
This corded machine will take the backache out of your garden duties in the next few weeks with its triple function of blowing, vacuuming and mulching any material you pick up. The 210mph air speed is more than enough to steer debris where you need it and even clear out twigs and leaves that have found their way into gravel paths, while the 350cfm capacity dealt with clumps of wet leaves and tangled twig piles. Interestingly, you carry the bag separately over your shoulder, which helps to distribute the weight and means that it doesn’t drag on the ground as you work. The metal shredding blade also does a very efficient job of slicing and dicing even harder materials like hawthorn twigs.
Stihl BGA100 cordless leaf blower: £274.28, World of Power
You can leave the ear defenders hanging in the garage when you pick up this handheld battery model because even though it will deliver air at an impressive 494cfm and at 167mph, it is an impressively quiet machine. Efficient and well balanced, it has three power modes for delivering the air plus a boost option if you need some extra muscle. Perfect for urban patches and longer clean-ups so you won’t come in from the garden with your ears buzzing, it’s even been awarded a Quiet Mark, which is the internationally recognised award programme for low noise, high performance equipment.
Worx WG547E cordless air turbine garden leaf blower: £99.99, Amazon
The air turbine fan in this battery powered machine delivers 129mph air speed and 430cfm making it a very powerful and affordable product, but the motor eats up the battery life quite quickly, so it’s probably best to buy a spare battery to prolong operating time. The two-speed control makes it easy to switch from clearing out the mulch from delicate flower beds to going all out on the airflow for piling up wet leaves on a front lawn.
Ego LB5800E blower: £169, Ego Power Plus
Handheld and highly portable, this is a real powerhouse of a blower, delivering air at an eye-watering 580cfm. There’s no delay in the airflow when you hit the trigger and the blower feels light and nicely balanced once the battery clicks into place. Due to the hurricane-like blast it delivers there’s very little that it won’t be able to deal with in the garden. We found that its power combined with good direction from the nozzle ensured we weren’t just sending leaf litter up into the air only to have it land back in the same place again.
Black & Decker GW3031BP garden vacuum and leaf blower with backpack: £79.95, Tooled Up
This excellent electric option – which boasts a scarecrow-shredding 260mph of wind speed – is so well-powered that you’re not going to have any trouble rounding up the most stubborn leaves or even ensuring that larger tree twigs, cones and seeds end up exactly where you want them. Once you’ve finished rounding up your garden garbage you can simply switch out the blow tube for a suction fitting and start hoovering it all up into the voluminous 50L collection sack that sits comfortably on your back. There’s even an ingenious rake attachment for the vacuum tube in case you come across a leaf that doesn’t want to play ball. The only thing that you’re going to be limited by is the length of your extension lead.
Husqvarna 525BX leaf blower: £295, Husqvarna
One of the major advantages of this model is that it’s incredibly lightweight for a petrol powered blower, so you can work for hours on end without feeling like your arm’s about to fall off. The spring-loaded handle is separated from the body of the machine, so vibration is minimised which enhances the comfort factor. The 192mph wind speed is more than a match for wet or dry leaf litter while interchangeable tubes, one round and one flat, mean that it can deal with tight channels and gutters that might collect debris as well as larger areas of lawn.
Bosch ALS 2500 electric blower and vacuum: £58.26, Amazon
This electric model is still good value for money if you’ve got a small backyard to keep tidy. It blows with enough power (186mph) to herd damp leaves into a manageable pile and then vacuums them up, without any blockages, into a sizeable 45L detachable bag. Unlike some other vacuums we tested the bag hangs underneath the vacuum tube so it doesn’t get in the way when walking around and is easily emptied.
Ryobi OBL18JB 18V one+ cordless jet blower: £71.50, Amazon
Giving the Bosch a real run for its (value for) money is this battery operated Ryobi that acquitted itself particularly well in the wet as it boasts a narrow focus tube that had no trouble moving soggy leaves and grass cuttings.
A good variable speed throttle is sensitive enough so that you can instantly go from full power, (around 100mph) to a more delicate stream. The machine is powered by a one+ battery, so if you already own any of the one+ tools this adds to the product’s value as the battery is interchangeable. If not, the battery and charger will cost around £110.
Stihl BR350: £328, Green Machinery Direct
This backpack petrol blower is a serious bit of kit if you’re intent on battling with a large garden. It’s a breeze to start, so you won’t have to fight with the engine’s pull chain and once you’re up and running it’s very comfortable to use, with the weight of the blower’s body evenly distributed with adjustable padded straps. The 1L tank will keep you blowing for up to two hours, which is plenty of time to get your plot in line without having to refuel.
Ryobi OBV18 18V one+ cordless brushless blow vac: £148.95, Amazon
This is a powerful blower that makes it easy to direct leaves exactly where you want them, but the standout feature here is that with just a flick of a switch you can turn it into an efficient garden vacuum without having to wrestle with lots of replacement tubes. There is even a set of wheels on the end of the tube so you can use it like a traditional vacuum on flat surfaces like patios or driveways. The machine’s blades will turn the litter into mulch, which you can collect in a 45L sack and recycle back onto your garden or compost heap. Plus, it’s compatible with the Ryobi one+ system. If you don’t already own one you need to add around £110 for the battery and charger.
The verdict: Leaf blowers
It may look like a prop from a Ghostbusters film but the Ego LB6002E has all the advantages of a backpack blower minus the ear defenders, fuel cans and fuss. The powerful air stream is easily controlled and it's so comfortable to use that it will appeal to all kinds of gardeners.
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