The 10 Best Yard Vacuums
This wiki has been updated 26 times since it was first published in January of 2017. If fall leaves have taken over your lawn and you don't fancy tackling this daunting chore with a rake, a yard vacuum might be the answer. We've found a wide range of models that vary in power, size, function, and price to help you get the job done properly in a quick, efficient manner. Most come with a collection bag, and many offer blower and mulcher settings as well. When users buy our independently chosen editorial recommendations, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
October 12, 2020:
The Craftsman Variable is a budget-friendly tool, but we’ve learned that its shelf life isn’t very impressive, so it’s probably best suited for occasional use.
While handheld tools are more common than walk-behind options, we made sure to include a push vacuum — the Dayton 6H003 — in the rankings, as well as two additional, heavy-duty walking models in the Special Honors section.
For those who are concerned about disturbing the neighbors, the Sun Joe SBJ606E is a powerful unit that generates minimal noise. The Black + Decker BV3100 operates quietly as well, though we’ve noted that its collection bag is a bit flimsy. If a high-performing mulching function is important for your purposes, the Worx WG512 is worth a look. This model is also available as part of a package that includes a 26-gallon collapsible yard waste bag, which could come in handy if you don't already have something similar.
One attribute that differentiates the Sun Joe SBJ606E from many of its competitors is the presence of little wheels attached to its vacuum tube. This allows you to utilize it like a mini push vacuum on certain surfaces, helping to alleviate fatigue if you’re putting in a long day of work on the lawn.
September 09, 2019:
Like mowing the lawn, cleaning up leaves in the fall is a recurring chore that could take you hours if you're doing it with a rake or leaf grabbers. That's why a yard vacuum is a worthwhile investment. The right tool for your property size and leaf load can save you lots of time and labor.
There are generally three types of yard vacuums: hand-held, walk-behind, and tow-behind. Our selections feature both hand-held and walk-behind models. We looked for high-quality items that are easy to use and offer good value for the price. In this update we also eliminated an item due to concerns about it availability.
Most of our selections do double duty as vacuums or blowers so you can blow leaves into a pile and then suck up the pile if you prefer to work that way. Most also shred the leaves and deposit the resulting mulch in a collection bag that you can dump on your flower beds to help control weed growth. If you want a mulching option, you should look for models with a metal impeller, like the Worx WG509 Trivac, which earned one of our top slots. Metal parts seem to handle clumps of leaves better than plastic alternatives.
Cyclone Rake For very large properties or commercial use, you're going to want a large-capacity machine like the Cyclone Rake. It tows behind your ride-on mower and can hold hundreds of gallons of leaves before you have to empty it. The manufacturer even allows you to use it at home for a full year, and if you don't like it, your full purchase price will be refunded. It also features a three-year bumper-to-bumper warranty against defects. cyclonerake.com
Patriot Lawn Vacuums These full-sized push vacuums cost quite a bit more than handheld models, but they should provide the performance you need to keep a commercial property or large, wooded yard in great condition. They can clear a 24-inch path in one pass, and some are forceful enough to cut through branches up to two inches thick. patriot-products.com
Little Wonder Vacuums Little Wonder’s line of outdoor, self-propelled vacuums minimize the time and effort required for what could otherwise be a tough job. They generate powerful airflow, with rugged swiveling wheels for maneuverability and an adjustable nozzle height for attacking different types of terrain. littlewonder.com
Should You Use A Yard Vacuum Or A Rake?
That's not to say that the rake will always be outclassed, however.
It might seem like a dumb question. After all, if you have a yard vacuum, why on Earth would you ever bust out that stupid old rake?
However, while yard vacuums are fantastic for saving you time and effort, they're not the be-all-end-all of gardening tools. Both vacuums and rakes have their place, and knowing when to use one instead of the other can be essential to preserving your lawn.
The most obvious time to use a vacuum is when you have a tremendous amount of leaves that need to be picked up — and you're not terribly concerned about letting a few get away.
In fact, if you're trying to make up for an entire fall's worth of upkeep in a single afternoon, it's probably best to use the blower on your vacuum and arrange them all into piles. You can then throw the debris into your compost bin, or mulch it and distribute it back over your lawn for fertilizer.
Vacuums also shine in tight spaces, such as when leaves have fallen among rocks or along your fence. They're equally fantastic at picking up small mounds of dirt and grass, especially compared to a rake.
That's not to say that the rake will always be outclassed, however. It's much easier to use the old-fashioned method to pick up a few stragglers than it is to bust out the yard vacuum, and people with smaller yards probably won't get enough use out of a vacuum to justify the purchase.
Also, rakes can do something vacuums can't: de-thatch your lawn. By removing some of the dead growth on your yard's surface, it helps aerate the soil and let the young grass underneath flourish.
So, if you were hoping that your new yard vacuum would enable you to throw your rake away entirely, you should probably think again. Still, a good vacuum can save you hours of back-breaking labor.
The Importance Of Keeping A Clean Yard
When you've only got a few days off from work and all you want to do is watch TV, it can be easy to talk yourself into letting your lawn go. After all, it's just decoration, right? Isn't relaxation time more important than your vanity?
Unfortunately for your R&R time (and your Netflix queue), a healthy lawn is more than just a trophy you keep in front of your house. It offers important benefits that more than offset the time and effort required to maintain it.
When you've only got a few days off from work and all you want to do is watch TV, it can be easy to talk yourself into letting your lawn go.
Its primary function should be to give your family a quality space to enjoy. Your kids need some room to run around, as do your pets. Plus, being able to congregate with friends and extended family in the backyard for a BBQ is one of the true pleasures of life.
A healthy lawn just makes your house look nicer, as well. Not only will this make the neighbors jealous (which is extremely important, naturally), it will also boost your home's re-sale value. This can mean seeing quite a bit of money go into your pocket — or watching bids come in that are much lower than you'd hoped.
Despite what you may have heard, your lawn can also be good for the environment. A well-managed lawn can trap significant amounts of carbon, preventing CO2 from building up in the atmosphere. Additionally, it can help filter and purify water that runs through it, leading to cleaner subsurface groundwater.
That's not to say that you can't go too far, of course. If your lawn is dominating your thoughts and creeping into your dreams, it may be time to relax a bit. Also, if it's soaking up so much water that your utility bill threatens to sink you, consider switching to drought-resistant plants and grasses.
Just don't get rid of the lawn entirely. That's liable to get you arrested in some southern states.
Other Ways To Keep Your Lawn Under Control
If you've let your lawn get away from you, getting it back under control can seem like a daunting task — because while you've been relaxing, your weeds have been plotting against you.
Luckily, if you're willing to put in a little work, you can reclaim your dominance over your yard in no time.
You can also discourage them from bothering you in the first place by filling in patchy spots on your turf.
If weeds like crabgrass are the problem, your best bet is to attack them before they pop up, by applying a granular killer to your lawn in the winter, before the grass begins to grow. This is much easier and more efficient than chopping or pulling up the weeds after they've already sprouted.
You can also discourage them from bothering you in the first place by filling in patchy spots on your turf. Any bare or thin areas are prime locations for weeds, so give those spaces even more attention than usual, and try to fill them in with turfgrass.
Make sure you mow it regularly, as well, and keep it at the right height. This varies based on the type of grass you have and other conditions, but the idea is to keep it a nice medium length. Don't give it a buzz cut, as that will only cause it to grow faster than you can keep up with it.
From there, it's basically a matter of finding the right amount of fertilizer and water that your grass needs. You can experiment until you discover the proper mixture, or contact your local extension service and ask them what they recommend.
You may think having a lush, green lawn is out of your reach, but all it takes is a little time and TLC to make your yard the envy of the neighborhood — and isn't making your neighbors jealous the real American Dream?