A versatile tool for yard maintenance, a leaf blower makes lawn clean-up easy. Use it summer, fall and even winter, for everything from clearing leaves and debris to light snow. Leaf blowers come in a variety of styles with unique features. Learn about the different types and choose the blower that best fits your lifestyle.
Pick Your Power SourceThe first thing you’ll want to consider when purchasing a leaf blower is the type of power. There are benefits to both gas and electric models. So, which one is best for your yard?
Powerful Gas BlowersA gas leaf blower is powerful, making it ideal for tough jobs.
- Plenty of power and long run time
- Portability without the restriction of a cord
- The ability to tackle large yards and gutters
- Requires fuel
- Requires periodic maintenance
- Is louder than an electric model
- Tends to be heavier than an electric model
NOTE: A model with a two-stroke engine requires mixing of gas and oil, while a four-stroke engine requires no mixing. You can get pre-mixed oil, which makes refueling easier.
Light and Quiet Electric BlowersAn electric leaf blower is easy to start and operate. It comes in corded and cordless (battery-powered) models. While a battery-powered leaf blower provides greater range than a corded model, it offers less power and a shorter runtime. As a result, this type is better suited to smaller yards.
Benefits of an electric blower include:
- Easy start up
- A lightweight design
- Quieter operation
- Corded or cordless operation; corded models are the lightest and most affordable
- Cleaner to run with no pollution or emissions
Good to know! Rechargeable leaf blowers often come with batteries that are interchangeable with other tools in the line.
Unlike a gas leaf blower, an electric blower:
- Requires no mixing of fuel and oil
- Requires less maintenance
- Is limited by its cord length
Tackle Yard Work with the Right Type of Leaf BlowerIn addition to the type of power you prefer, there are different styles of leaf blowers. You’ll want to decide whether a handheld leaf blower or backpack leaf blower is better for your clean-up needs.
Handheld Leaf BlowersA handheld leaf blower is easy to set up, use and store. It is the most economical, and generally works best for standard urban and suburban yards. A handheld blower comes in gas and electric (corded and uncorded) versions.
Backpack Leaf BlowersA backpack leaf blower straps onto your back. This distributes weight across your back and shoulders and reduces stress on your arms. A backpack blower comes in gas and electric versions and is ideal for clearing larger yards.
When compared to a handheld model, a backpack blower:
- Typically has more power
- Weighs more but is supported by your back and shoulders
- Is generally more expensive
NOTE: There is a third type of leaf blower, a wheeled or walk-behind blower. This is generally used for extremely large areas and professional landscaping projects.
Choose a Leaf Blower Tailored to the JobThe type of property you have will also dictate the best type of leaf blower for the job. Think about the size of your lawn, how often you will use the blower, and what type of debris you need to clear.
Yard Size and Degree of DebrisFor smaller lawns and quicker cleanup jobs, a handheld leaf blower is a lighter, lower-maintenance option. A small leaf blower is also good for getting into tighter spaces. Keep in mind that:
- Corded electric versions are restricted by the length of the power cord
- Cordless electric versions are restricted by the battery’s runtime; it helps to have multiple batteries handy
- Gas-powered versions are not restricted by a cord or battery, but they are louder and do require fuel and more upkeep
For medium and large lawns and heavily treed lots, consider a gas backpack leaf blower. It offers more power without sacrificing mobility. A gas handheld model is also a good choice if you prefer that style.
Year-Round Uses for a Leaf BlowerThe benefits of a leaf blower extend beyond cleaning up leaves. Rather than only taking it out in the fall, you can use this versatile tool year round. Use it to:
- Clear light snow from cars, walkways and decks
- Clear sand and dirt from stairs, porches and entryways in the summer
- Clean out gutters
- Blow dust and debris out of a garage or workshop
- Get cobwebs and dust out of high corners
Factors to Consider Prior to PurchaseNow that you’re up to speed on the different types of leaf blowers, consider the factors below prior to purchase.
For residential areas, consider a quieter model, and don’t use the blower during restricted hours. Check your local noise regulations if you’re unsure what these are.
Safety First: Wear ear and eye protection while working.
CFM and MPH Ratings
The two key ratings to look at when shopping are CFM (cubic-feet-per-minute) and MPH (miles-per-hour).
- CFM measures the volume (amount) of air flowing through the nozzle. The higher the CFM rating, the more leaves you'll be able to blow at once
- MPH measures the air speed coming out of the nozzle. The higher the MPH rating, the farther you'll be able to blow the leaves
In general, both measurements should be high for effective blowing, especially with heavy-duty tasks. Make sure to review both rating for best overall performance.
There are two main nozzle designs. Some leaf blowers come with both.
- Round nozzles are ideal for loosening embedded leaves and blowing large clumps
- Flattened nozzles are ideal for blowing and sweeping loose leaves
Blower/Vacuum/Mulcher ModelsYou can also purchase a leaf blower that converts into a vacuum and mulcher. It will blow leaves into a pile, suck them into a collection bag and shred them to create mulch.
This process helps to reduce the number of bags of waste you end up with. A blower/vacuum/mulcher will feature a reduction ratio. For example, a 16:1 ratio means you can break down up to 16 bags of leaves and grass clippings into one bag.
TIP: Mulch is also great for use as fertilizer in your garden.
Universal AccessoriesConsider universal accessories that can come in handy with your leaf blower.
Blower/vacuum replacement bags come in handy when you want a new or extra leaf collection bag.
A leaf collection system attaches between the blower/vacuum and the trash can. This speeds up work, allowing you to deposit leaves directly from the collected pile into the trash can, bag or bin.