Should I get a leaf blower or vacuum?
Leaf blowers and leaf vacuums both are powerful tools that can make yard cleanup easy. Either type of equipment will help you remove leaves and other kinds of debris from your property far more quickly than a rake would.
But how do you know which one is better for you to buy? How do you know whether a lawn vacuum or a leaf blower will help you clean your yard or lot more effectively?
Read on to learn when it’s better to use a leaf vacuum and when it’s better to choose a leaf blower!
When to Use a Leaf Vacuum
For all the power they offer, leaf vacuums are usually the better choice for detailed work and for producing a finished look on your lawn.
Leaf Vacuums for Convenient Cleanup
Leaf Vacuum with Collection BagOne of the biggest advantages of using a vacuum over a leaf blower is the debris collection bag. When you vacuum your yard debris, the waste gets pulled into a vacuum bag. No shepherding stray leaves into piles, no need to bend over and scoop leaves—the leaves you wanted to clear are right there in a bag that you empty whenever it gets full.
Additionally, if you choose a push or a tow-behind yard vacuum, you’ll find that some models also can serve as litter vacuums, allowing you to pick up items like cans and food wrappers with almost no hassle.
Easy leaf (and litter) collection can be a major boon for people with limited mobility.
Leaf Vacuums for Making Mulch
Lawn Vacuum ImpellerInside of almost every lawn vacuum, whether it’s handheld or wheeled, is a component called an impeller. The impeller looks like a fan, but it does more than circulate air inside your blower. Its blades also chop up leaves and other debris into small pieces.
If you want to turn fallen leaves into mulch that you can spread over your soil for protection, a leaf blower is an excellent tool. Not only will it tear the leaves into tiny pieces that will decompose quickly and nourish your soil; its collection bag will also make gathering and distributing your new mulch material a simple task.
Similarly, vacuums are wonderful for breaking down and collecting leaves to add to a compost pile.
Leaf Vacuums for Careful Landscaping
Landscaping with FlowersIf you have roses and delicate flowers in your landscaping, you probably don’t want to expose them to the strong bursts of air that a leaf blower can produce. Doing so can risk damaging flower petals and thin stems.
To clean up the ground around your garden crops or landscaping showcase plants, use a leaf vacuum instead of a blower. Either a handheld vacuum or a push or tow-behind model with a small nozzle and vacuum hose attachment will provide you with the control you need in tight spaces.
Leaf Vacuums for Cleaning Other Narrow Spaces
Clear GutterThe spaces between plants aren’t the only spots that can benefit from cleanup with a leaf vacuum. Thanks to their nozzles, vacuums also are excellent for picking up dust and debris from gutters, window wells, and other narrow channels where a broad blast of air might scatter the debris too far.
(You can use a leaf blower to clean gutters as well, but be prepared for a few flying leaves!)
Leaf Vacuums for Pest Removal
Should I get a leaf blower or vacuum?
Japanese BeetleInsects happen. Whether you find Japanese beetles on your rose bushes or Colorado potato beetles on your backyard crops, you’ll need a way to get rid of plant-devouring insects before they multiply and decimate your annual growth. Catching them with a leaf vacuum is a pesticide-free way of getting them off your plants before too many appear.
Some horticultural professionals suggest using a wide nozzle to reduce the risk of the suction damaging your plants. And if you don’t want to harm any insect (or don’t want insects clogging the inside of your vacuum), you can fashion your own pest collection bag by securing a nylon knee-high stocking or other nylon cloth over the nozzle’s open end with a thick, strong rubber band.
When to Use a Leaf Blower
Yard vacuums are great for precision work. However, there might be situations in which you need to clear out a lot of debris. In these situations, a leaf blower will be the better choice.
Leaf Blowers for Quick Cleanup
Leaf Blower Pushing Large Pile of LeavesThere’s a reason why so many landscaping professionals can be seen carrying leaf blowers every autumn. Vacuuming leaves into a bag is convenient, but a vacuum’s suction force requires users to move more slowly than they would if they were pushing leaves ahead of them with a blower.
Thanks to both the volume of air that a leaf blower can expel through its nozzle and the speed of that air, leaf blowers are the tool of choice for people who need to clear leaves off a broad surface and into a pile quickly, which is often true for anyone cleaning up a large lot.
Leaf Blowers for Use with Other Equipment
Debris Loader Picking Up Large Pile of LeavesAnother detail that’s usually true for landscapers (or anyone who owns a large parcel of property) is that a leaf blower is only one type of tool at their disposal. Frequently, people responsible for enormous lots have an extensive collection of equipment that they regularly use.
A leaf blower is a great complement to other tools like debris loaders. Use the leaf blower to gather leaves into large piles, and then use the debris loader to remove the leaves from the property without having to stop to empty a bag.
Leaf Blowers for Wet Debris
Damp Leaves on the GroundThe power of a leaf blower’s airflow also helps when you need to clean up a lot of wet leaves and other kinds of damp yard waste. Vacuums can struggle to produce enough suction to pick up the heaviest pieces of wet debris; wet leaves inside your vacuum also risk clogging the machine, at least temporarily.
However, the force of air from a blower can be just what you need to get the mess on your lawn out of your way.
Leaf Blowers for Cleaning Open Spaces
Bed of Pickup TruckJust as leaf vacuums are great for cleaning narrow spaces like gutters and window wells, leaf blowers are great for cleaning open spaces other than your backyard or driveway:
Garages and workshops
Pickup truck beds
Insides of other vehicles (SUVs, vans, boats)
And yes, as mentioned before, as long as you don’t mind a little mess, they’re excellent for clearing gutters. No matter what you’re doing, be sure to be considerate to those around you!
Whether it’s a leaf blower or lawn vacuum, whatever the task you have ahead of you, having the right tool in your hands will spare you some strain and help you be more efficient when it’s time to clean up.