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19 best leaf blowers to make autumnal garden duties a breeze

As soon as that first leaf fell, we were ready and waiting with the latest machines

Jon Axworthy
Friday 13 October 2023 11:42 BST
We tested these gardening tools on both dry and wet litter for all-round results
We tested these gardening tools on both dry and wet litter for all-round results (The Independent )
Our Top Picks

When it comes to naming the most fun garden appliance, the outright winner has to be the leaf blower. This is closely followed by pressure washers, with their ability to allow you to write swear words on dirty decking. However, grimy graffiti is nothing compared to the entertainment potential of a blower, whether that’s keeping a tennis ball aloft for the longest time or drying the dog.

Of course, we realise blowers are actually there to help tackle everything that autumn throws at us and our gardens, which is why after much amusement with tennis balls and soggy hounds, we turned our attention to how well each machine performed.

We were looking for a good balance of power, control and a focussed jet of air with good ergonomics, so you can spend an autumnal Saturday afternoon clearing your grounds and generally tidying up without complaining of aching arms the next morning.

All the blowers we included in the final edit have variable speed controls, which we think is essential as you move through your garden from an area of wet lawn with sodden matter, to a flower bed or wood-chip path where you want to clear the area without blowing everything else away too.

After a few days of testing, we were more than happy with the following round-up of machines that will be able to cope with all kinds of clean-ups, from urban backyards to suburban gardens and country piles.

How we tested

We tested the leaf blowers on lawns, driveways, decking, gravel and wood-chip paths. Power was our main concern and the machine’s ability to lift the natural litter that falls in any garden and get it moving. Next, we were interested in the ability to direct that litter where we wanted it to go without having to chase rogue leaves and AWOL apples around the garden, wasting time, charge or fuel. In fact, the aforementioned tennis ball test was used here as an indication of exactly how focussed the jet of air from each machine was.

We also tested on very different autumnal days – one that was dry and crisp, and another that was soggy and miserable – noting how each blower performed at low speed and low volume airflow for delicate areas, to high-speed and high-volume for the stubborn stuff.

We docked batteries and filled petrol tanks, and operated each machine for over an hour so we could truly test the operational ergonomics.

The best leaf blowers for 2023 are:

  • Best leaf blower overall – WORX compact brushless cordless leaf blower WG543E.9: £99.99, Worx.com
  • Best budget leaf blower – Q Garden leaf blower and vacuum: £49.95, Amazon.co.uk
  • Best cordless leaf blower – Stihl BGA 60 cordless blower: £185, Stihl.co.uk
  • Best leaf blower for big gardens – Milwaukee M18F2BL-802 fuel leaf blower kit: £557.40, Sgs-engineering.com

WORX compact brushless cordless leaf blower WG543E.9

Worx-Indybest-leaf-blower-review.jpg
  • Best: Leaf blower overall
  • Power source: Battery
  • Air speed: 130mph
  • Weight: 1.1kg
  • Why we love it
    • Good at breaking up piles of wet leaves
    • Lightweight

The very distinctive design of the leafjet is all about the optimisation of air volume, which means the tool is particularly adept at breaking up and lifting piles of wet leaves, so it doesn’t matter what the weather’s up to – you can always get out in the garden and work. Having said that, once it’s got things moving, an innovative adjusting nozzle then turns the machine into a masterful mover of any detritus that has ended up on the deck.

The light-touch trigger means that you can easily harness the airflow, and the well-designed nozzle is suited to broad sweeps of the lawn or patio and hard-to-reach areas, like cobwebbed corners of the shed.

A lightweight leaf blower, the excellent ergonomics add to the overall appeal of this machine, with the battery placement counterbalancing the front-heavy nozzle design.

  1. £99 from Screwfix.com
Prices may vary
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Q Garden leaf blower and vacuum

Qgarden-Indybest-leaf-blower-review.jpg
  • Best: Budget leaf blower
  • Power source: Electric
  • Air speed: 167mph
  • Weight: 3.75kg
  • Why we love it
    • No nozzle change required for vacuuming
    • Large 45l bag
  • Take note
    • 10m cord might be restrictive for larger garden

Increasing in popularity, blower vacuums make a total garden clearance even easier. We like this particular model because rather than interrupting your work to change out the blower nozzle and replace it with vacuuming tubes, you can simply switch from one function to another with a simple lever pull.

We found blower mode to be efficient and powerful, with a targeted air flow that was easy to direct, allowing us to separate wet leaves from the lawn and dry leaves into ordered piles.

The mulching capabilities were good, and the machine compacted everything it collected so that we had plenty of working time before having to empty the generous 45l bag.

If you’ve got a big garden tidy in mind, the 10m-long cord will be pretty restrictive, but if you’re looking to clear the driveway or a small lawn, then this machine will do the job well.

  1. £49 from Amazon.co.uk
Prices may vary
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Stihl BGA 60 cordless blower

Stihl-Indybest-leaf-blower-review.jpg
  • Best: For cordless blower
  • Power source: Battery
  • Air speed: 154mph
  • Weight: 3.5kg
  • Why we love it
    • Blower tube is easily adjustable
    • Can hang for storage
    • Very responsive variable control

This machine from Stihl did a great job of balancing air speed and volume with its excellent design, so your seasonal workload doesn’t take you all weekend. It really packs quite a punch, with the variable control being very responsive and working within the three speed settings to put less pressure on the battery life.

All the handle ergonomics were excellent, allowing easy access to features like the power boost, which enables you to work at full power. Meanwhile, the blower tube is easily adjustable so you can tailor the air flow to the job at hand.

There’s a recess in the handle’s plastic housing, which also allows you to store the tool on the wall, so it’s not taking up space in the garage.

  1. £185 from Stihl.co.uk
Prices may vary
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Milwaukee M18F2BL-802 fuel leaf blower kit

Milwaukee-Indybest-leaf-blower-review.jpg
  • Best: For big gardens
  • Power source: Electric
  • Air speed: 145mph
  • Weight: 5.9kg
  • Why we love it
    • Precision for doing paths or driveways
    • Manoeuvrable despite having two batteries

The manufacturer has done well to produce a hand-held blower that has two batteries on board and doesn’t feel unwieldy. In fact, the design of this machine gives it one of the best working angles of any of the blowers we tested, and it feels nicely balanced as you work.

Coming with interchangeable nozzles, the machine packs a real punch and combines some impressive air speed figures with a nicely tapered nozzle. This means there’s plenty of precision there when you need it for driveways and paths, but you can also sweep the machine back and forth across a lawn carpeted with leaves and achieve good clearance in no time at all.

The secondary handle not only means the blower is very manoeuvrable so it can go to work in tight spaces, but it also doubles as a hook with which you can store the blower neatly away once the work is done.

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Titan TTBVP25-2 2-stroke blower vac

Titan-Indybest-leaf-blower-review.jpg
  • Best: Budget petrol leaf blower
  • Power source: Petrol
  • Air speed: 184mph
  • Weight: 5.6kg
  • Why we love it
    • Minimal vibration from the petrol engine
    • Can use for hours at a time with ease

For some homeowners (usually those who need to take a packed lunch when they go to work in their own garden), petrol power is the best way for them to cover the ground without being slowed down by dead batteries.

The Titan is our petrol choice because it eliminates two of the standard frustrations of petrol machines: starting (especially on cold autumnal mornings) and not being too unwieldy to work with.

The blower comes with two interchangeable nozzles – one round (suited for open-lawn blowing and vacuuming) and one tapered (for more focussed work, like cleaning gutters or getting leaves out between decking boards).

In vacuum mode, the blower was also efficient and it has good ergonomics and minimal vibration from the petrol engine. This makes the machine comfortable to work with for hours at a time, which is the whole purpose of petrol blowers in the first place.

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Greenworks 40V brushless 230 MP/H 370 KP/H blower and vacuum

Greenworks.png
  • Best: For medium-sized gardens
  • Power source: Battery
  • Air speed: 193mph
  • Weight: 6.47kg
  • Why we love it
    • Can break up heavier materials
    • Easy to switch from the blowing nozzle to vacuum tube

This battery blower/vac has plenty of power to back it up and a nicely tapered blowing tube that gives you plenty of control to steer garden debris where you need it. It was easy to operate – with an on/off switch and power toggle located a thumb stretch from the handle – and very capable of breaking up and lifting the heavier materials that had been dumped on the turf.

For a heavier machine, it has good ergonomics and the battery location at the base of the handle balanced the unit well and made it easy to operate. The blowing nozzle was easily replaced by the vacuum tube and the extra handle made the unit easy to hold while working. Carrying the bag separately over your shoulder helps to distribute weight and means it doesn’t drag on the ground as you suck up the latest downfall.

We managed to eke out around five minutes of operation (on variable power settings) with one of the two 2Ah batteries that come with the kit, but having the two batteries will mean that you can keep switching one for the other to extend your working time in small to medium-sized gardens.

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Cobra BV26C petrol powered blower vac

cobra-indybest-leaf-blower-review.jpg
  • Best: Petrol-powered leaf blower vacuum
  • Power source: Petrol
  • Air speed: 175mph
  • Weight: 5kg
  • Why we love it
    • Focussed airflow
    • Comfortably positioned collection bag
    • Mulches quickly and efficiently
  • Take note
    • Vibrating through handle could be restrictive

In blowing mode, this petrol tool produced plenty of puff, and the nozzle is nicely designed, focussing the airflow on clumps of wet leaves and tangled twig piles to break them up and get them moving. The blower started reliably and is well designed for a prolonged assault on the garden – changing from blow to collect and back again was a very straightforward task, and we weren’t playing tug o’ war with the tubes, with everything converting without any issues.

In vacuum mode, the Cobra’s generous nozzle combined with the motor picked up everything we wanted and ensured it was well mulched by the time it hit the bag. There was no sticking or blocking internally, even on wet days, so you can work efficiently after it’s been raining. The collection bag is also well positioned and doesn’t sit too close to the body, which can be a problem with some other models.

This is a comfortable machine to operate, although we could have done with a little less vibration coming through the handle, which might be a little restrictive if you’re out there for upwards of an hour. Another bonus is that its identifiable red paint job means you won’t spend ages trying to remember where you left it when you return from your tea break.

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Husqvarna 125BVx 2-stroke petrol blower / vacuum

Husqvarna.png
  • Best: For versatility
  • Power source: Petrol
  • Air speed: 170mph
  • Weight: 4.35kg
  • Why we love it
    • Petrol-powered so it’s great for larger gardens
    • Easy to operate

A versatile machine with a round nozzle for general garden clearance, there’s not much that can’t be tamed by the 125BVx. You can change out for a flat nozzle if you really want to focus the blowing force on some particularly stubborn materials or if you need the extra force for heavy or wet targets. But the fact that it’s petrol-powered means you’ve got a licence to roam, which is why this is a machine for larger gardens.

For a petrol model, it’s surprisingly lightweight and there’s good handle and body ergonomics going on. This makes the appliance easy to operate, so you can use the classic sweeping motion without it feeling too much like a workout.

The tank placement (especially when full) seems to improve the overall balance of the machine, and Husqvarna’s smart start technology makes it reliable, even on cold October mornings.

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Ego LB5800E

Ego.png
  • Best: Battery-powered leaf blower
  • Power source: Battery
  • Air speed: 145mph
  • Weight: 3.4kg
  • Why we love it
    • Easy changeover between nozzles
    • Well-balanced when working at maximum airflow
    • Impressive battery system

Part of Ego’s professional range, this is a real hand cannon that will be a welcome addition to the autumnal armoury of anyone who’s got a lot of land to lick into shape.

There’s an easy changeover between round and flat nozzles, but we don’t think you’ll need to do much switching because with either nozzle this machine produces some serious air volume that will push away anything in its path. Plus, it offers precise targeting if you’re trying to tuck debris away in a corner of a garden or move it towards a compost.

Well-balanced, the machine naturally creates a good working angle with the ground, so you never feel like you’re fighting it, even when working at maximum airflow. The controls are located at the top end of the handle with a chunky dial, so you can stay on top of the power output while you’re working. There’s a turbo button that when pushed will get you to max power and then back to your previous output in an instant.

We still think Ego has one of the best battery systems on the market, and the 5.0Ah is efficient for a run time of just over an hour, working at various air speeds.

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Greenworks 60V digipro cordless back pack blower

Greenworks.png
  • Best: Back pack leaf blower
  • Power source: Battery
  • Air speed: 139mph
  • Weight: 3.8kg
  • Why we love it
    • No restriction when using it
    • Causes minimal hand and finger strain
    • Well padded harness for comfort while wearing it

If you want to look like a Ghostbuster while going about your seasonal clearance, then this is the machine for you. Backpack blowers are great for allowing you total freedom to roam about your garden, blasting away at anything out of place.

Thanks to the machine’s respectable air speed and volume numbers, combined with a wide-mouthed nozzle, the air is directed in a targeted jet. We found this quickly cleared covered decking and patios and efficiently directed leaf litter and twigs, without it ending up in messy piles. The variable speed trigger was also responsive, and the automatic cruise control offered efficiency – eliminating any hand and finger strain while you’re on the job.

Finally, the one thing you want from a backpack blower, as you’re probably going to be wearing it for a while, is ergonomics and comfort. Greenworks has done a good job here, with a fully adjustable and sufficiently padded harness, and a manoeuvrable blower tube and angled handle, which makes it easy to achieve a great working angle.

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Handy THEV3000 electric 3 in 1 leaf blower

The Handy.png
  • Best: Corded leaf blower
  • Power source: Electric
  • Air speed: 167mph
  • Weight: 4.5kg
  • Why we love it
    • Extremely powerful in breaking up clumps of wet leaves
  • Take note
    • Can be difficult to empty the ba

If you’re after some real power, the Handy won’t disappoint in either mode. It blows big dumps of wet leaves without any issues and sucks up larger leaves with heavier stems – even those that fall down in clumps still attached to a bit of tree.

The ergonomics throughout the machine are good, with a thumb wheel to control the power so that you can go from air blasting wet leaves from a lawn to the more delicate operation of sucking up material from a path without ending up with a collection bag full of gravel.

The switch from blower to vacuum was straightforward, with a sizeable mode lever and easy to attach 45l collection bag. Plus, the front wheel and extra handle take the weight of the machine while you go about your work.

We did find the bag a tad problematic to empty as a quicker release would be better – if you decide to unzip it, you’ll probably have to get your hand in for removing the final leaves, because the opening isn’t particularly generous.

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Makita UB001GD202 40V XGT Blower

Makita UB001GD202.png
  • Best: For ergonomics
  • Power source: Battery
  • Air speed: 143mph
  • Weight: 3.9kg
  • Why we love it
    • Cruise control function
    • Totally targets the air

Makita is known for producing blowers that really pack a punch, and it has dialled up the power on this beast. This model gets its oomph from a 40V battery that satisfyingly slots into the base of the handle and stops the machine see-sawing when you’re using it. This makes it easy to target any debris and get the blower moving in either wet or dry conditions.

The nozzle is wide and angled at the end to ensure you’re not wasting any of the energy that the machine produces, and all the air is totally targeted. There’s also a strap option to add to the ergonomics of the machine, which was bang on. Plus, this model has an excellent cruise control function, as all you have to do is flick the lever and lock in the power level you want to work at.

With the machine operating at variable speeds, we got around 12-15 minutes of working time from the 4.0Ah battery that is supplied with the tool, along with a spare battery and charger.

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Ryobi 36V max power whisper blower

Ryobi 36V max power whisper blower.png
  • Best: For urban gardens
  • Power source: Battery
  • Air speed: 190mph
  • Weight: 3kg
  • Why we love it
    • One of the quietest machines we tested
    • Cruise control feature

There’s a clue in the name as to one of the selling points of this blower, and while it’s hardly a whisper, the Ryobi was definitely one of the quietest machines we tested – which will be of interest to anyone who needs to keep the noise down.

In operation, the machine has great ergonomics, a good working angle and excellent, controllable airspeed, so you can rid yourself of any rotten apples before easing off on the power when arriving at more delicate areas like flower beds and wood-chip paths.

If it’s permanent power you’re after, there’s a cruise control button too, so you can give your trigger finger a rest.

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Webb petrol garden blower and vacuum

Webb petrol garden blower & vacuum.png
  • Best: Blower vacuum
  • Power source: Petrol
  • Air speed: 114mph
  • Weight: 4.5kg
  • Why we love it
    • Good at precision blowing
    • Efficient mulching
  • Take note
    • Can be tricky to get going

This petrol model was a little tricky to get going, but we found that it was definitely worth the effort, as its performance is better than some of its manufacturer’s specs suggested.

It seems to harness every mph of the advertised 114mph air speed, with a concentrated blast of air through a well-designed, tapered nozzle. The narrow profile made the most of the airspeed and meant the machine was well-suited to moving on matted debris, while the curved shape enabled it to effectively sweep up everything ahead of it when it was used over larger areas.

Specifically, the Webb is very good at precision blowing and so made very light work of driveway clearances and clogged gutters that seemed to have caught pretty much every leaf in the garden.

In vacuum mode, this machine was incredibly efficient and handled well. The 40l collection bag secured in place without any hassle, and we didn’t suffer from any blockages (which can be one of the problems when working with a vacuum blower).

Not too heavy to work with for a petrol model, the mulching blades clearly did their job, because when we emptied the bag, there was plenty of fine material to redeposit on flower beds in need of nutrients.

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Stihl SH 86 C-E vacuum shredder and bower

Stihl SH 86 C-E.png
  • Best: For larger gardens
  • Power source: Petrol
  • Air speed: 170mph
  • Weight: 5.8kg
  • Why we love it
    • Great for clearing larger gardens
    • Excellent shredding tool
  • Take note
    • Noisy

Another easy-starting petrol blower from Stihl, with variable airflow and a very responsive trigger, this machine is superb for gardens where you can be blowing leaves with reckless abandon of a lawn one second and then trying to finesse unwanted material off a wood-chip path the next.

It’s noisy, yes, but that’s the trade-off for having a robust machine that you can take to the farthest reaches of the largest garden and not have to worry about extension cables or battery charge.

In operation, the Stihl has a well-proportioned, comfortable grip that does a good job of dampening down vibrations from the engine. The overall balance makes for an optimum nozzle-to-ground angle, meaning you can simply wander along, sweeping the blower, and be confident that you won’t miss a single acorn.

Switching to vacuum mode took around three minutes, with nozzles, tubes and bag all locking on without any frustrations. And in operation, the variable power combined with the excellent shredding tool meant that leaves, moss and twigs were finely sliced and diced, and poured easily from the 45l collection bag.

A popular blower, it’s currently sold out, but you can sign up to be notified when it’s back in stock.

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Husqvarna aspire B8X-P4A leaf blower kit

Husqvarna-Indybest-leaf-blower-review.jpg
  • Best: Compact leaf blower
  • Power source: Battery
  • Air speed: 89mph
  • Weight: 2kg
  • Why we love it
    • Simple digital readout and controls on the handle
    • Can be hung up to store

We’ve been very impressed with Husqvarna’s new aspire stable of machines throughout the year, and the blower entry in the range doesn’t disappoint. It’s sleek, compact and lightweight, but performed well on all the tasks we applied it to.

From general-purpose leaf lifting to getting shot of twigs and fruit that fell on wet grass after a very windy spell, you can rely on three speeds to match the debris you’re faced with. Plus, the variable speed trigger was responsive enough to allow for uninterrupted working.

We liked the simplicity of the digital readout and controls on the handle (power switch, speed and battery level), which is soft grip and comfortable to use.

As with all the other tools in the aspire range, the blower can be stored hanging via a hook or on the wall-mounted storage system, which is one of the big selling points of the range.

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EGO LBP8000E dual battery backpack blower

EGO-Indybest-leaf-blower-review.jpg
  • Best: Backpack blower
  • Power source: Battery
  • Air speed: 160mph
  • Weight: 7kg
  • Why we love it
    • Two batteries for extended time
    • Excellent weight distribution

Obviously, a backpack blower is probably overkill for small or even medium-sized gardens. That said, if you have to do battle with a sizeable patch, then this machine has a wonderfully sensitive variable trigger that allows you to go from an all-out air assault to a gentler jet in less than a second, so you won’t decapitate your favourite flowers while on leaf duty.

The LBP8000E is geared for professional and domestic use, and the backpack houses two batteries for extended work time. Happily, even with both batteries on board, the blower offers excellent weight distribution from the backpack rig, as well as an ergonomic blower arm and grip position, which makes the nozzle easy to operate and direct the airflow.

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Bosch ALB 36 LI cordless leaf blower

Bosch-Indybest-leaf-blower-review.jpg
  • Best: For hard landscaping
  • Power Source: Battery
  • Air speed: 155mph
  • Weight: 1.15kg
  • Why we love it
    • Good at clearing hard landscaping and paths
    • Nozzle design is ideal for breaking up wet clumps

There’s something about the nozzle design of this Bosch machine (tapered and upturned) that made it particularly adept at breaking up the wet clumps of organic matter that can gather on lawns and under trees.

With the battery sitting just underneath the handle, there’s a nice, balanced feel to the blower as you work your way around the garden.

We also found that it was particularly suited to clearing hard landscaping and paths, because the nozzle shape helps to skim the leaves from the surface without disturbing or displacing the path material itself.

  1. £88 from Amazon.co.uk
Prices may vary
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Cobra LB45024V cordless leaf blower

Cobra-Indybest-leaf-blower-review.jpg
  • Best: All-rounder leaf blower
  • Power source: Battery
  • Air speed: 155mph
  • Weight: 1.9kg
  • Why we love it
    • Easy access turbo button
    • Lightweight and manoeuvrable

Nicely balanced, this is a good all-round ground care machine, which had enough volume and speed to cope with both wet and dry clean-ups.

The variable airspeed is responsive, but there is also an easy access turbo button to lock in maximum air flow when you’re working around trees with maximum leaf litter and fallen fruit, for example, and you want to rely on permanent power from the machine.

What we really like is how Cobra has managed to keep the weight of the machine down, making it very manoeuvrable and a useful option if you also have a shed or garage that you need to keep dust and cobweb free.

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The verdict: Leaf blowers

In our opinion, the best leaf blowers occupy a sweet spot of good ergonomics, performance and variability for working across all kinds of landscaping and lawn. The WORX WG543E.9 does just that and will help you keep on top of all aspects of seasonal upkeep in your garden, from breaking up stubborn, matted leaf piles to cleaning up borders and beds without damaging existing plants. Meanwhile, for a budget option, Q Garden’s leaf blower and vacuum suits smaller lawns and driveways and has decent mulching capabilities. Finally, the Husqvarna aspire B8X-P4A leaf blower kit is a compact option offering comfort, simple controls and easy storage.

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