We take a look at some of the best garden vacuum / blowers currently on the UK market today.
If you’re lucky enough to have a garden or some outdoor space it’s important to keep it looking its best. Finding the time to do this isn’t easy if you’re a working family or have other things to keep you busy. Being organised and having the right tools and equipment can help to avoid the pleasure of gardening becoming a chore.
A leaf blower or garden vacuum is one of the tools I find makes a huge difference when it comes to keeping my garden tidy. Falling leaves and other debris can build up quickly on paths and patios and in borders and flower beds. Autumn is the worst time of the year for this of course, but garden waste can accumulate throughout the seasons if it’s not kept in check. I can still picture my grandad raking the leaves from his lawn and bending over to clear his beloved flower beds! Fortunately, the development of garden vacuums makes this lighter work now.
I’ve had my leaf blower for a couple of years now, and it’s cut the time I need to clear my garden from half an hour to ten minutes. I use it to gather the leaves and debris into a couple of neat piles ready to bag up for the tip or the compost heap. As well as making the garden look better, it helps to keep the paths and patio safe to walk on as wet leaves can be a real hazard. Mine is a Bosch machine, and although it’s been very reliable I decided a few weeks ago it was time for an upgrade. Bending down to gather the leaves is the worst part of the job, especially when they’re cold and wet! For that reason, I decided to switch to a machine with a vacuum.
As always when I decide to buy a new tool or gadget, I wanted to compare some to make sure I found the best garden vacuum for me. I chose five machines and put them through a series of practical tests.
Reviews of the best garden vacuum / blowers
My Bosch leaf blower never let me down, so a model from this well-respected manufacturer seemed a good place to start. However, a couple of friends suggested I try the VonHaus machine and a quick bit of online research picked up many positive reviews. I must admit I’d never heard of VonHaus before, but the recommendations and low price made this a good machine to start my garden vacuum review exercise with.
They say great things come in small packages, and this was my first impression of the Vonhaus garden vacuum. I honestly thought the postman had delivered the wrong parcel when it arrived as I couldn’t understand how a machine like this would fit into such a compact box! Other manufacturers could learn from this, as the amount of waste packaging with some items can be ridiculous. I was a little worried it was going to be like putting together a giant puzzle, but I had it assembled in under ten minutes. A screwdriver was the only tool needed, and the instructions were very easy to follow.
Key Features and Specifications
I don’t have a large garden, but weight and handling were quite important to me when it came to finding the best garden vacuum. The VonHaus scores very well here, and its ergonomic design and lightweight body made it comfortable to hold and use. It also feels like it’s built to last. The soft-grip handle and wheels make a big difference if you need to spend a lot of time on garden chores.
The 3-in-1 feature of this garden tool was one of the features that really appealed. As well as being a garden vacuum the blower function allows you to gather leaves into a pile and the mulcher makes light work of compacting them ready for composting or disposal. It took me a couple of sessions to get used to this whole process but it was well worth the effort.
The 3000W motor is key to the power and effectiveness of the VonHaus leaf blower and garden vacuum. Gathering leaves and debris together is easy when it’s dry, but after heavy rainfall leaves stick together and become heavy so you need a powerful motor to move them. I used the tool the day after a heavy storm as a test and it was perfect for collecting leaves into a couple of piles and then vacuuming them away. This would’ve been heavy, dirty work with a rake and wheelbarrow!
I was a little sceptical about the mulching feature of garden vacuum devices and thought I might be constantly emptying the bag. A twist of the dial on the VonHaus switched it from vacuum to mulching mode, and the results were impressive. The 10:1 shredding ratio means that a full bag condenses in a few seconds allowing you to carry on and collect more leaves. When it is full it’s easy to unzip and empty the bag into your garden waste or compost heap.
- Three tools in one, makes light work of keeping your garden tidy.
- Powerful motor copes with wet leaves and larger debris.
- Lightweight and well designed so you can work for longer without becoming tired.
- Mulching feature speeds up the process and reduces waste.
- Excellent value of money.
- 10m power cable too short for larger gardens.
My garden vacuum review wouldn’t be complete without the inclusion of a Bosch. The ALS 2500 is the current model in the standard range, and at nearly twice the price of the VonHaus my expectations were high. I was disappointed with the excessive packaging when it arrived. The cardboard nearly filled my recycling bin! I want items like this to be protected for transit and delivery, but manufacturers need to come up with smarter packaging ideas.
Once the machine was unpacked and ready to use I was impressed with the build quality. Like my previous Bosch, I could see this lasting a few years. The ALS 2500 feels solid without being excessively heavy. The padded shoulder strap makes it very comfortable to hold, and you could certainly spend an hour using it without getting too tired.
Key Features and Specifications
The product description for this garden blower boasts of speeds of up to 300 km per hour, and that sounds impressive. In practice I found the power inadequate for anything other than moving small patches of dry leaves around. What sounds like a small difference between a 3000W and 2500W motor has a real impact on the performance. When it comes to clearing the leaves with the vacuum mode I found it frustrating having to sweep around and pick up small patches at a time. On the plus side, the Bosch garden blower is very quiet, so if you’re worried about bothering neighbours it may be worth considering. Having experienced the power and efficiency of the VonHaus before trying this I was really disappointed.
Switching between garden blower mode and vacuum is very easy, making this a versatile tool for garden maintenance. If you have the time to clear away leaves and other debris regularly the relative lack of power may not be an issue. The variable power feature sounds useful, but I didn’t find the need to use it.
Like the Vonhaus, the Bosch machine has a 10:1 shredding ratio to prevent the collection bag filling too quickly. This works well and the waste material comes out in neat lumps ready for bagging up or adding to the compost heap. Some garden vacuum reviews I read mentioned problems with the mulching process cutting out, but I didn’t experience this in my tests. A second handle on the collection bag is a nice design feature making it easier to empty.
- Well-built garden vacuum, feels like it will stand regular use for several years.
- Comfortable, lightweight, easy to use.
- Quiet motor and low vibration.
- Expensive compared to other garden vacuums.
- Lacks power and wouldn’t be suitable for heavy garden clearance in winter months.
- Garden jobs take longer due to the 2500W motor.
Flymo has to be one of the most well-known and trusted brands in the UK when it comes to garden tools and equipment. It’s also a brand I associate with innovation. I’ll never forget the time my parents bought their first Flymo hovering lawnmower! The PowerVac 3000 is instantly recognisable as a Flymo product with its orange and grey finish. As I would expect, it had a quality feel to it and the parts fit together well.
The price of the Flymo PowerVac 3000 is at the top end of the machines selected for my review, but I expect to pay a little more for established brand products like this. The weather was wet and windy over the period I tested and reviewed it for, so I had plenty of opportunities to sweep and collect everything from wet leaves to hedge trimmings. Unfortunately, it didn’t perform as I’d hoped.
Key Features and Specifications
Within minutes of starting to use the PowerVac 3000 two features really stood and made me think I’d found the best garden vacuum tool. Firstly, the power of the 3000W motor. Having experienced the 2500w motor of the Bosch machine I could really notice the difference. The Flymo made light work of several piles of wet leaves and grass cuttings, and I had them in the collection bag within minutes. No need to resort to raking or sweeping, the blower and vacuum were very capable. The other outstanding feature is the 16:1 shredding ratio. Waste material is compacted efficiently and the texture feels different than that produced by other garden vacuums in my review.
The downside and a real disappointment is the process of switching the PowerVac 300 from blower to vacuum mode. Rather than flicking a switch, it involves a fiddly and cumbersome operation to attach or remove a pipe. With cold, wet hands I found this to real chore, and it slowed down the process of clearing away the leaves from my garden path. This may not be a problem if you sweep your garden every few days, but if you have a large outside space or can only clear up at weekends you may need to switch several times.
- Powerful motor, very effective as a garden vacuum.
- Efficient mulching means more compact waste.
- Quality machine from a trusted manufacturer.
- Price is high for the specification. Replacements parts also expensive.
- Switching between garden blower and vacuum very awkward.
- Motor noisy compared to other garden blowers.
This is a brand I’d not heard of when I started my garden vacuum review, but it’s talked about in a lot of gardening forums I follow. At the price, I felt I needed to include it in my test even though the reviews are mixed. The QGBV2500 is around half the price of some other models, so it’s very much at the budget end of the market.
When I unpacked the QGBV2500 it reminded me of one of the old East German Praktica SLR cameras I used to own. The design is functional and reflects a bygone era. In the age of Apple products, I expect things to look and feel good as well as be fit for purpose, and this garden vacuum falls short here. Putting my disappointment aside I offered to sweep the paths and gardens of a few neighbours over a weekend to put it to the test.
Key Features and Specifications
This is another 2500W garden vacuum, and that lack of power influenced my final decision in the one to buy. The motor in the QGBV2500 I tested made an odd noise and seemed to struggle in vacuum mode in particular. Gathering leaves with the blower needed more effort than other models and meant every gardening job took longer.
There’s nothing outstanding about the QGBV2500 and going by the technical specification it’s average or below average on key features. The price is very good, but as the old saying goes, ‘buy cheap, buy twice.’ The mulching feature worked well, and dry leaves were turned into a fine dust which was easy to bag up. Unfortunately, the poor quality of the collection bag meant that the zip was constantly sticking. After just a couple of days, it appeared as if the fabric of the bag was becoming worn in places.
The shoulder strap and lightweight design made this garden vacuum easy to old and carry, but using it felt like more effort than other models in my tests. Heavy rain overnight meant that the QGBV2500 was really put to the test with some wet leaves and piles of damp grass cuttings. After about twenty minutes of use, I noticed a burning smell coming from the device’s motor. It could have been dust as it was still new, but I was concerned that I was working the motor too hard so stopped for a break. This echoes some of the reviews of the QGBV2500 I read online. Some people claimed the motor stopped working within a week of purchase.
- Very cheap. Worth a look for light garden chores if you’re on a budget.
- Lack of power. Noisy motor, seemed to struggle.
- Poor build quality. The collection bag in particular doesn’t feel as if it will last.
- Concerns over reliability.
This was another brand I hadn’t heard of before I started researching and comparing garden vacuums. A friend recommended this model and he was very pleased with how it had performed so I added it to my list.
The lack of clear instructions was my first disappointment. I find it annoying when manufacturers expect you to go online and carry out research rather than provide good instructions. The diagrams were quite hard to follow and I made a couple of mistake in the process of putting the device together. Once I had the Handy THEV 3000 set up, I instantly liked it. It has the look and feel of a tool a professional gardener might use.
Key Features and Specifications
This is probably the most powerful of the garden vacuums in my test exercise. The 3000W motor shouldn’t technically deliver more power than any of the others, so I assume it’s more efficient due to the design. If anything it was a little too powerful! Fortunately, it’s possible to control the speed of the motor, and once you get used to this you can be quite precise. For example, I was able to vacuum leaves from a gravel path without causing too much disturbance. I found the best technique was to have it set to medium power and adjust up and down as necessary for the job.
Other features compare well to similar garden vacuums but there’s nothing outstanding. The 45 litre collection bag is large enough without being cumbersome. The shredding ratio of 10:1 means you can work for quite a while without having to stop to empty the bag.
Unfortunately, the collection bag is the weak spot for this product, and frustrations with it completely changed my initial thought that this might be the best garden vacuum. The clips you have to press to remove the bag are incredibly stiff. I struggled to do it, and the mechanism feels as if it will snap due to the force required. The zip opening of the bag is very narrow, and this means you have to put your hand inside to scoop out the leaves and debris.
The powerful motor and the option to adjust it are great features of a garden vacuum. The Handy THEV 3000 would’ve made it to the top spot in my review based on this. However, frustrations with the collection bag make it difficult to use in my opinion. As your hands become tired, changing and emptying the bag makes a garden clear up a real chore.
- Mid-price garden vacuum.
- Powerful, efficient motor. Option to control the speed for precise operation.
- Lack of clear instructions.
- Collection bag changing and emptying is difficult.
I was already sold on the value of a garden blower and vacuum before I started my review, but I now realise how much easier life can be if you choose the right one. Having a single tool that can gather, pick up and compress the leaves and debris makes keeping your garden looking its best so much easier. Even if you only have a small outside space a garden vacuum is a worthwhile investment.
The following are some of the key features to consider and compare if you’re thinking of buying a garden vacuum.
A 3000W motor is efficient for gathering damp leaves and other garden waste, but I wouldn’t recommend anything less powerful. A 2500W motor struggles in my experience and the process of gathering leaves becomes more manual.
Weight and handling
The garden vacuums in my review weren’t heavy when empty, but they can become difficult to manage as the collection bags fill. A carrying strap and wheels can make them easier to manage. Design can make a big difference to the handling.
Ease of function switching
The job of clearing leaves involves gathering them into manageable piles with a blower and then using the tool’s vacuum function to collect them in the bag. Switching between these functions needs to be as quick and simple as possible.
Quality of build and reliability
A garden blower should last a few years if you have an average-sized garden and don’t use it excessively. A good quality motor is essential, but the quality of the collection bag is equally important. Replacement parts can be expensive.
Conclusion and final verdict
I had expected the Bosch or Flymo machines to be the best, but the VonHaus 3 in 1 Leaf Blower stood out as the best garden vacuum for me. It’s powerful, easy to handle and easy to switch between functions. Based on those features alone it beats the rest, but as one of the cheapest garden vacuums in my review it’s a highly recommended best buy.