Who is this for
If you live on less than a quarter acre, clean up after only one or two trees, and don’t mind a workout, a rake will be your best option (see our recommendation). If raking takes more than an hour and it’s more labor than you’re willing to deal with, a leaf blower is a better choice.
Leaf blowers not only work faster than rakes and take less effort, they can also perform many tasks that rakes and mowers can’t. Blowers can clean pine needles from a gutter, blow dust out of your garage, clear grass clippings from a driveway, or get leaves out of your thick ground-cover plants like vinca or pachysandra.
How we picked and tested
Leaf blowers come in several prominent styles: corded, cordless (handheld and backpack), and gas-powered (handheld and backpack). To read the pros and cons for each, check out our full guide.
In looking at leaf blowers to test, we chose from quality manufacturers that have solid reviews either from other editorial sources, like Consumer Reports, or stellar feedback on retailer sites. To test, we brought them into the woods to see how they would do against the thick, matted leaf-and-pine-needle bed of the forest floor. In addition, we used them around flower beds, cobblestone steps, stone walls, and in dense groundcover.
Corded blowers meet most people’s needs because they are powerful, lightweight, free of emissions, and low-maintenance. With three years of testing under our belt, our pick is the Worx WG520 Turbine Leaf Blower, new for 2016.
Compared with the leaf blowers we tested, it has the most powerful airstream, and showed no problems getting under the bed of thick, damp, matted leaves and pine needles on the forest floor. With the blower tubes in the same position, the Worx pushed leaves two feet farther than our runner-up, the Black+Decker BV6600. The Worx’s variable speed control can be used one-handed, making it easy to tone down the airflow when needed, like around flower beds or while dusting out a garage.
At under 6½ pounds, it’s also lighter than the other blowers we looked at, which will reduce arm strain over the long term. Currently costing about $60, the Worx has a good price for a blower of this caliber. One of the reasons for the relatively low cost is that the Worx does not have leaf mulching ability. If this is an important feature to you, we recommend our runner-up pick, the Black+Decker BV6600.
More finesse, less power
If you spend a lot of time blowing leaves out of flower beds, or if you need the ability to mulch your leaves, we recommend the Black+Decker BV6600 High Performance Blower/Vacuum/Mulcher. Compared with the Worx, it’s easier to use in tight spots and around delicate plants, but it does have less power, so moving leaves in an open lawn is going to take longer.
One major element that sets the Black+Decker apart from the Worx is that it comes with a few interesting attachments: a reducer nozzle, an oscillating nozzle, and a leaf scraper, all three of which easily clip on the end of the blower tube. The BV6600 also has a nicely curved handle that makes it easier to maneuver, and a smaller blowing tube than the Worx. In contrast to the blunt force of the Worx, we found the BV6600 to be a great choice for precision work around flower beds and stonework.
Finally, we need to note that Black+Decker recalled the BV6600 in September 2016. Some users reported the fan cover falling off and exposing the mulching fan, resulting in four reports of “finger lacerations.” If you already own a BV6600, you can contact Black+Decker for a new fan cover. The info sticker on the new, improved model will read “Type 2” and not “Type 1.”
Same power, more portable
For cordless convenience, we recommend the Ego LB5302 56-Volt Cordless Electric Blower, which we found to be on par with the corded Black+Decker in leaf-moving power. This is Ego’s second-generation leaf blower and it has similar power and almost as much run time as last year’s pick, the DeWalt DCBL790H1 40V MAX Lithium Ion XR Brushless Blower, all for about $100 to $150 less.
It’s nice and light at under 8 pounds, and it also has a turbo button that provides a little boost in power to loosen a matted bed of leaves. This tool is part of Ego’s cordless outdoor power tool lineup, all of which have performed very well in our testing. We currently recommend the company’s string trimmer, lawn mower, and chainsaw. The batteries on these tools are all interchangeable, so once you have a battery, you can purchase the other tools without batteries at a reduced price.
The midsize sedan of backpack blowers
If you’re working on more than an acre with lots of wooded areas, or if you’re blowing leaves a good distance to the treeline, we recommend the Stihl BR350. Of the five gas blowers our landscapers tested, this was the one model they universally loved. Read more about our pick for backpack blowers in our full guide.
Note from The Sweethome: When readers choose to buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn affiliate commissions that support our work.