Leaf blowers are now challenging lawn mowers for the title of "most useful garden gadget", as they are more versatile than their name suggests, taking care of a lot of garden cleaning duties, as well as making short work of the deluge of leaf litter that rains down on gardens in the wet and windy months.
The size of your property will determine which machine is right for you, so if you don’t have to roam far from an electrical socket to tidy up outside, you’ll probably be looking for a corded model which tends to be cheaper and lighter so they’re easier to operate.
To get to the farther reaches of a larger garden, you should be looking for a good battery-operated model with adequate run-time before recharging.
And if you’ve got a sizeable property to tend to, then you should seriously consider a gas-powered blower, which will give you the ability to get to your borders without worrying about coming to the end of a cord or running out of charge before the job is done.
No matter how your machine is powered, there is one thing that they should all excel at: blowing. You need an airstream that’s either powerful or easy to control (or both), so that you can go from wet leaves in long grass to fallen petals on a flowerbed without skipping a beat.
One of the major advantages of this model is that it’s incredibly lightweight for a gas-powered blower, so you can work for hours on end without feeling like your arm’s about to fall off. A spring-loaded handle that’s separated from the body of the machine, vibration is minimised which enhances the comfort factor.
The 192mph wind speed is more than a match for wet or dry leaf litter that has been on the ground for a few days, and having interchangeable tubes, one round and one flat, means that it can deal with tight channels and gutters that might collect debris, as well as larger areas of lawn.
Pull the trigger on this battery-operated cordless model and you’ll get a perfectly variable air supply that goes effortlessly from a gentle breeze, which is great for fragile garden beds, to a 100mph blast that will deal with heavier materials.
At full power, you can still get around 20 minutes of use from the 36v Lithium Ion battery and there’s a handy “cruise control” for a steady air stream that will last just under half an hour. The price includes the battery and charger.
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 vacuum them up, without any blockages, into a sizeable 45-litre 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.
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 focussed 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+ range of tools this adds to the product’s value as the battery is interchangeable.
If you’ve got a larger garden but want to keep the neighbours happy then this model is very quiet for a gas-powered model and will give you just over an hour’s run time on a single tank. It’s also very fuel efficient, thanks to the 4-stroke engine and you can break down the two part blower tube so it won’t take up valuable garage space. There’s also an option to turn it into a vacuum too.