Helpful Tips

Leaf Vacuums vs Backpack Leaf Blowers

backpack leaf blower on the back of a man

During the fall, you want a power tool that will make yard maintenance easier and keep your yard looking great. Choosing between leaf vacuums and backpack leaf blowers can be a challenge. Each type of tool has its pros and cons, so choosing one ultimately depends on your yard maintenance needs, budget, and yard size. Both vacuums and leaf blowers serve similar purposes, however, there are a few variations in their features, which can make a huge difference. You should also keep in mind that depending on your experience with either of these yard maintenance tools, each type has its own unique challenges. In this guide, I’ll go over the pros and cons for each tool, to help you determine whether a backpack leaf blower or leaf vacuum is the right choice for your yard.

Leaf Vacuums vs Backpack Leaf Blowers-Yard Maintenance Needs

Leaf blowers and leaf vacuums can be used in different situations. If you have a small yard and your goal is to get rid of the leaves from your garden, then using a vacuum can be the best option. Leaf blowers are a better choice for larger yards where you can push leaves to one side.

Choosing between these two powerful tools can also depend on specific situations.

Vacuum Usage

man using a leaf vacuum

Most leaf vacuums have a collection bag that will store the suctioned-up leaves. When you use leaf vacuums you will not have to stoop over to pick up leaves from a pile in the yard. These tools come equipped with powerful suction that eliminates the need to manually pick up leaves.

Packing Serious Power

On vacuum mode or turbo mode, these tools are so powerful they can suction up waste wrappers, aluminum cans, and larger yard debris with ease.

With a leaf vacuum, you won’t have to worry about cleaning out narrow spaces. These tools are perfect for cleaning narrow spaces and tasks that involve fitting through alleys, trenches, and narrow gutters.

Vacuums are a Better Choice for More Delicate Jobs

Leaf vacuums are a better choice for more delicate jobs. You wouldn’t want to use a heavy-duty leaf blower to blow leaves out of your flowerbeds because the power of the blower could end up breaking delicate plants. With a leaf vacuum, it can gently and carefully remove dead leaves from your flowerbeds or vegetable garden.

Pest Removal

Pest removal is another great use for a leaf vacuum. When pests invade your flowers or crops you can use a leaf vacuum to suction them off delicate leaves and stems. This is a great alternative to using dangerous insecticides and pesticides.

Mulch Leaves

Inside most vacuums, there’s an impeller. The impeller serves to circulate air inside the tool to create suction power. The fans of an impeller are sharp enough to shred leaves and debris into very tiny pieces. By shredding leaves to mulch, using a vacuum speeds up the decomposition of leaves collected from your lawn. Because of this, vacuums simplify the process of creating mulch which gives them a big advantage over leaf blowers. For homeowners that practice composting, these tools are much handier to have around.


When you use yard vacuums to clean your lawn, you shouldn’t have to worry about damaging it. Fortunately, a leaf vacuum is considered one of the strongest lawn tools on the market. A powerful vacuum can pick up wet debris and large sticks without the risk of damage. This also means you won’t have to spend a lot of money on maintaining this type of tool.


Most handheld models use electricity as their energy source, so they’re much quieter than a leaf blower.

More Convenient to Use

Because lawn vacuums come equipped with a collection bag it makes them a better choice for the buyer who is looking for a power tool that’s more convenient to use. Everything that gets suctioned into the collection bag gets shredded into very tiny pieces of mulch so it can be reused or easily tossed. With a leaf blower, you’ll have to grab a rake and make tidy piles then scoop up the piles into the garbage can. A leaf vacuum eliminates this extra step.

Leaf Vacuum Cons

Just like a leaf blower, some leaf vacuums can be really noisy, which can also limit you in terms of how early in the morning or late at night you can use them.

A leaf vacuum is designed to suction up leaves easily, but the second stage of turning the leaves into mulch can produce dust. Because of this, you should always wear a mask when using one.

Summing Up Leaf Vacuum Benefits

man working with a leaf vacuum

  • Variable air speed
  • handheld models are lightweight
  • Long battery life and more power
  • Mulched leaves
  • Vacuum bag
  • Can pick up some types of wet yard debris
  • Can remove debris from flowerbeds without damaging flower petals

Backpack Leaf Blower Usage

Backpack leaf blowers are powerful tools but they may not be the best choice if you need something that can clean your backyard with precision. However, they can clear leaves quickly.

Works on Wet Leaves

Leaf vacuums are not commonly used to suction up wet leaves since this can clog the vacuum. While a vacuum is designed to pick up leaves and dense debris, leaf blowers are a better option for these tasks. Leaf blowers forcefully eject air through the nozzle, which is enough to clear wet leaves, freshly cut grass, or debris on your lawn.

Better for Bigger Yards

Another reason you might want to choose a backpack leaf blower over a vacuum is that it does a better job when it comes to clearing leaves in wide and open spaces. However, the biggest drawback to using leaf blowers is the fact that you’ll have to clean up the leaves at some point. A leaf vacuum offers more of a one-step cleaning process. With a leaf blower, you’ll have to corral the leaves into a large pile, then use a rake to gather the leaves and dispose of them.

Leaf Blower Pros

The biggest disadvantage of cleaning a yard manually is that you have to spend hours on end picking up the leaves. Even if you have a rake handy, you still end up wasting time. However, with a good leaf blower, you can finish yard maintenance faster than if you worked without one. Regardless of how much work needs to be done and leaves that must be collected and bagged, all you have to do is switch on the machine and begin blowing leaves to the desired collection point to streamline the process and get rid of old and rotting debris.

Another pro of using a leaf blower is its ease of use. Once you have the hang of using a leaf blower you can gather up all the leaves in a fraction of the time it would take using a rake alone.

Backpack Blower Versatility

sweeping leaves

Another pro is the many options available. While choosing the right leaf blower can be a matter of personal preference, there are many different types of leaf blowers on the market that pack the type of power you need to clean up your yard in under an hour.

Some models come with additional accessories and attachments. While it’s possible to find one that also mulches leaves, it’s not a common feature. Most people think leaf blowers are only meant for leaf use but these tools are actually pretty versatile. You can use the leaf blower to blow grass clippings after you’ve moved the lawn. You can also use one to remove snow from your sidewalk and driveway during the winter.

Summing Up Leaf Blower Benefits

With backpack blowers, you can choose from a variety of designs and power options, including a cordless leaf blower, the average handheld blower, backpack blowers, and larger models that are equipped with a powerful brushless motor.

spring cleaning

Other benefits of using a leaf blower include:

  • Very high speed options available
  • Cruise control
  • Can access narrow spaces
  • Brushed and brushless motors available
  • Quickly gathers fallen leaves
  • Can handle wet debris
  • Handheld leaf blower available
  • Longer battery life
  • Narrow blower tube
  • Lightweight backpack model
  • Can be used for removing snow
  • Perfect for larger debris and other debris you can’t remove with a vacuum

Leaf Blower Cons

While blowers come with plenty of advantages, there are some disadvantages that every potential buyer should know about:


The biggest disadvantage of using a leaf blower is that leaves can fly back onto your lawn. This often occurs if you don’t collect and dispose of them properly. Because of this, when you’re shopping for a leaf blower keep in mind that most of them do not have a collection bag. However, all leaf vacuums will come equipped with a bag that collects and mulches leaves.


The price of leaf blowers is another disadvantage. While low-priced models can cost around $50 to $60, a top-of-the-line leaf blower can cost hundreds.

Leaf blowers are very loud, although there are some models that are quieter than others. For example, an electric blower is much quieter than a gas-powered leaf blower. Gas-powered models are by far the loudest and can be very disruptive, limiting you from using them early in the morning or late at night.

If you plan to upgrade from your basic rake to a leaf blower, be prepared to spend quite a bit of cash on regular maintenance costs. Maintenance is necessary to ensure the optimal performance of your leaf blower. On occasion, you may need to replace the filters and spark plugs in addition to fuel costs.

Respiratory Problems

People who suffer from respiratory issues should avoid using leaf blowers. When using one of these tools, they tend to blow dust and dirt, something that’s a trigger for people with asthma.

Because a leaf blower doesn’t come with a collection bag you’ll have to collect the leaves at some point. Once you’ve blown all of the leaves into a large pile, you’ll need to use a shovel to scoop them up and dispose of them properly.

Leaf blowers, especially gas-powered models, can weigh up to 50 pounds, which can make them uncomfortable to use for long periods of time.

Comparing Features

The features available for both leaf blowers and leaf vacuums can vary, although there are some similarities.

Noise Levels

Whether you’re shopping for a leaf vacuum or leaf blower, the noise level will always be a big concern. Battery-powered vacuums and blowers do not produce as much noise as gas-powered models. This means if noise is a major concern of yours opt for an electric blower or vacuum. Of course, electric models are nowhere near as powerful as gas-powered blowers and vacuums.

Power Source

The power source is another important consideration when you’re comparing vacuums and blowers. On both sides, homeowners can choose from electric, battery-powered, or gas-powered models.


The weight of a leaf vacuum or blower will also vary depending on the mode of operation and power source. Handheld gadgets are often lighter than a backpack, wheeled, pull, or push variants.

Leaf Disposal

The difference between vacuums and blowers when it comes to the method of leaf disposal is pretty clear cut. Finding a leaf blower that comes equipped with a collection bag is not easy. Unfortunately, there are very few of these models on the market. On the other hand, all models of leaf vacuums will come equipped with a collection bag. Most homeowners argue that the leaf vacuum offers a handier method of leaf disposal compared to leaf blowers. Additionally, they are more efficient in matters of waste management since the blades shred up the leaves to form a very fine mulch. However, with a leaf blower, it can be difficult to get your yard as clean as you want it, especially if you’re dealing with wind.

Final Thoughts

Choosing between a leaf vacuum and a leaf blower can all boil down to personal preference and the situations in which you would use either power tool. If you’re looking for a more powerful tool for leaf collection, then the leaf blower will be the tool of choice. However, if you don’t want to deal with raking up leaves, then a leaf vacuum should be your go-to tool.

As I’ve mentioned here, both the leaf blower and leaf vacuum have their own pros and cons. Using this guide, you can choose which type of power tool offers the most benefits depending on your yard maintenance needs, budget, and yard size.