How To Use A Leaf Vacuum In Your Yard

(Image credit: Julija Kumpinovica)

We’ve all heard of leaf blowers. But just what is a leaf vacuum? The lawn vacuum goes the next step after blowing the leaves into a pile. You can switch the hoses on the appliance enabling it to vacuum up the dry leaves. 

There are many brands and several models including a handheld lawn vacuum, walk-behind leaf vacuum, and tow behind, with increasing costs. Power options range from corded electric and gas to battery. Let’s look at the portable leaf vacuum, also called a leaf vacuum shredder, and explore whether it can lighten lawn chores. 

Pros And Cons of Leaf Vacuums

The main purpose of the leaf vacuum is to suck up the debris left behind after blowing. Once the leaf blowing is finished, the vacuum hose must be attached to proceed to the next step. Once the hose is ready, turn on the machine to vacuum and mulch at the same time. 

It does have limits; the included bag can only hold so much before it must be emptied. And the debris must be lightweight and dry. Wet debris will clog the vacuum. The brands specify that portable models are for light yard chores only. 

The vacuum also is designed to simultaneously mulch some of the waste to increase its holding capacity. However, according to Consumer Reports online, it falls short of this bullet point, not reducing the waste as much as the specified ratio. It can only mulch lightweight sticks and debris, along with the dry leaves. 

For someone who keeps up a small yard and doesn’t wait until the leaves are never-ending, it should be suitable for light chores. Reviewers liked its ability to vacuum under shrubs and small corners where it is hard to rake. 

More Leaf Removal Options

Those who own a mulching mower can bypass the leaf blower/vacuum and simply mulch the leaves on the lawn as they begin to accumulate. Here, too, you don’t want to wait until there are mountains of leaves. 

By mulching the leaves with the mower, you can leave them on the lawn to enrich the soil. It will not contribute to thatch buildup. If you prefer, you can mulch the leaves with the mower, collecting them in a bag. Then you can distribute the shredded leaves in a compost pile or in the flower beds. 

If you don’t have a mulching mower, you still can avoid the expense of a blower/vacuum by raking the leaves into the nearest garden bed to act as mulch for the winter. This only works for the smaller leaves -- adding large leaves to a garden bed can prevent water and air from getting through. 

Susan Albert

After graduating from Oklahoma State University with a degree in English, Susan pursued a career in communications. In addition, she wrote garden articles for magazines and authored a newspaper gardening column for many years. She contributed South-Central regional gardening columns for four years to While living in Oklahoma, she served as a master gardener for 17 years.