Table of Contents
It’s a funny world, when the more something sucks, the better we consider it to be. Such is the world of leaf vacuums though…
Cleaning up leaves and debris from your yard and garden can be a laborious, time-consuming task. You can spend hours and hours, if not days, raking up, and bagging innumerable trash bags of leaves.
Yard cleanup is a necessary evil but there has to be a way to do the job easier and faster – which is why I went on the hunt to find the best yard vacuum mulcher on the market.
All of the leaf vacuum mulchers reviewed below suck up leaves, grind them up into bits, and store the pieces in an attached bag  . The mulch can then be taken to the local recycling center or added to your compost pile.
Our Top Leaf Vacuums:
- Toro 51621 UltraPlus: best overall for blowing, vacuuming and mulching
- BLACK+DECKER BV3600: highest rated mulching capacity
- Greenworks 24322: battery powered convenience with strong mulching capabilities.
- Toro 51618: least expensive, but still very well rated model
- BLACK+DECKER BV3100: excellent mulching capacity with low price tag
Hopefully, my analysis of the different models will be helpful in steering you towards buying the best leaf vacuum that fits your needs!
Leaf Vacuum Mulcher Reviews
1. Toro 51621 UltraPlus Leaf Blower Vacuum
- Has variable speed control for superior control in both vacuum and blower mode.
- Effective and powerful up to 250 MPH, allowing you to move leaves and debris further.
- Blower comes with a storage hook and a bottom-zip vacuum bag that can easily store all of the accessories when not in use.
- Doesn’t handle reducing small twigs well as other models.
- Electric motor means you are limited in mobility compared to gas or battery-powered models.
The Toro 51621 is one of the best blower/vac/mulcher combo machines available on the market today.
The UltraPlus 51621is an electric unit weighing in just under 9 pounds, running on an extension cord. It has a maximum air speed of up to 250 MPH, a 350 CFM blow mode, and a 410 CFM vacuum mode.
Impressive blowing power, with no exhaust emissions. A variable speed control dial lets you fine-tune the airspeed.
Featuring the patented Shredz-All shred ring and a metal impeller, 97% of mulched leaves are reduced to a size less than .5 inches across. A total mulching capacity of 10:1 significantly condenses the final volume of mulched material.
It comes with a main blower tube for standard use, a power insert for wet leaves, and a concentrator for tight crevices and corners. An oscillating nozzle sweeps air back and forth automatically.
This is my recommendation for the best leaf vacuum for most homeowners.
2. BLACK+DECKER BV3600 Blower/Vacuum/Mulcher
- Comfortable to use and creates minimal dust.
- Lightweight, inexpensive, and very powerful.
- High-velocity blower and wiggling nozzle head make leaf blowing fun.
- Leaves occasionally get stuck inside the suction tube.
- Assembly instructions are a little convoluted.
With a 12-amp electric motor, the BLACK+DECKER BV3600 is a blower, mulcher, and vacuum all in one.
Tool-free changing means you can switch back and forth between the blower and mulcher in seconds.
It blows through debris and leaves easily with an air speed of 250 MPH. Two speed selections (1 for matted leaves and 1 for flower beds) allow you to effortlessly adjust the speed as you move from one area of the yard to another.
A high-impact metal fan prevents clogging during mulching and can grind 16 bags of mulch down to one. A 1.5-bushel collection bag is larger than comparable models, so you can go longer before needing to empty it out.
It is 50% quieter than other similar models averaging 68 dBA when in use and weighs in at about 8 pounds.
3. Greenworks 24322 G-MAX Cordless Blower Vac
- Instant start, lots of torque, and a G-Max battery that can provide 60 minutes of run time on one single charge.
- Zero emissions, 340 CFM, and 185 MPH air speed.
- Cover gate on the blower bottom protects the user from coming into contact with the spinning impeller.
- A few users had a hard time emptying the bag.
- Doesn’t handle large debris well.
The Greenworks G-MAX 24322 is a powerful tool with a DigiPro Brushless Motor and a 40V G-MAX Li-Ion battery system that provides greater performance, a longer run time, less noise and vibration, more efficiency, and longer motor life.
I believe it’s the best cordless leaf vacuum.
One of the great features of the G-Max 24322 is its brushless motor. This equates to a longer runtime on a single battery charge, and more mulching before you need to recharge the battery — important features in a cordless leaf vacuum.
A push-button start makes it easy to turn on.
The variable speed control dial and turbo button deliver on-demand power, allowing you to quickly adjust to varying conditions in your yard. Matted leaves are no problem with this battery-powered workhorse.
The built-in safety switch on the blower gate kills the blower if the gate accidentally opens during use, to prevent the user from getting hurt.
4. Toro 51618 Leaf Blower Vacuum
- Quick-release latch converts blower into a vacuum in a matter of seconds.
- Unique fan design improves vacuum flow rate and reduces clogging.
- Has multiple tubes and inserts for specialized uses like moving debris out of edging and cracks.
- Machine is on the heavy side and the leaf collection bag is cumbersome.
- Vac needs a flat surface somewhere on it so it can be set down.
The Toro Rake and Vac ™ is a 3-in-1 machine, allowing you to easily switch between a blower, vacuum, and a shredder/mulcher.
This model is equipped with 10.5 amp corded, electric motor delivering an airstream with a maximum speed of 215 MPH. Two different settings allow you to customize the airspeed when maneuvering in tight or restricted areas.
A lightweight (weighing in just over 6 pounds), compact design is well-balanced, comfortable to use and easy to maneuver. An adjustable shoulder strap improves comfort while reducing fatigue on your arms and shoulders.
With a leaf reduction of 8:1, the Toro Rake and Vac ™ 51617 is a match for all leaves large and small, sticks, and other debris.
5. BLACK+DECKER BV3100 Leaf Blower & Mulcher
- Disposable leaf-bag system accompanies mulcher that converts 16 full bags of mulch into 1.
- Corded 3-in-1 vac/blower/mulcher clean your lawn in no time at all.
- Lightweight multi-tasker provides a simple change between blower and vacuum.
- Curvature of the zipper makes the bag difficult to empty.
- Mulch bag on the small side and the shoulder strap isn’t comfortable for longer use.
The BV3100 has a powerful 12 amp electric motor that is perfect for vacuuming, blowing and mulching.
With zero emissions and a 50% reduction in noise compared to similar models, it’s an environmentally-conscious, (somewhat) neighbor-friendly piece of equipment.
The strong metal impeller will mulch leaves and debris easily to prevent clogging — good for when you suck up the occasional acorn or stick — and mulches them into a size suitable for compost piles.
With a 16:1 mulch ratio you can toil longer before stopping to empty the 1.5-bushel bag. A built-in cord retainer keeps the power cord in place and plugged in, preventing interruptions in power.
How I Rated the Leaf Vacuums
I conducted extensive product research, reading and comparing 100’s of leaf blower vacuum mulcher reviews to provide you with honest recommendations for the top leaf vacuum on the market.
To help determine the best leaf mulcher vacuum I asked myself the following questions.
- What are the pros and cons of each leaf mulcher vac?
- Which machine is more reliable or has a better warranty?
- Does the leaf vac have any unique features worth mentioning?
- Does it come with a good instruction manual or is there one readily available online?
- What is the cost of each vac?
- Does the performance and features of more expensive units warrant their higher price tag?
After investigating many reviews, I believe the following features are the most important when looking to buy the best leaf mulcher vacuum for personal use.
A leaf vacuum mulcher is an investment; one that you want to get your money’s worth out of.
Make sure the model you are looking at is made of durable, high-quality materials. The outer housing should be made of dependable plastics to keep it light, with the motor and impeller made of reliable metal.
As with most power tools, your leaf mulcher comes with a manufacturer’s warranty.
In most cases, these are limited warranties that cover defects in materials or workmanship. They do not cover included accessories, damage to the equipment due to user error, or natural wear and tear incurred through normal use.
Each manufacturer offers a different warranty.
From my research, a 2-year warranty is the industry average and is adequate in most cases. Some manufacturers or retailers offer an extended 1-year warranty for an extra cost; on more expensive equipment this may be worth purchasing but boils down to a personal choice.
Power (MPH & CFM)
When it comes to the air volume output (i.e. blowing power) of your leaf vacuum mulcher you look at both the miles per hour (MPH) and cubic feet per minute (CFM). These two features describe how much air comes out of the nozzle and how forcefully it does so.
MPH tells you how fast the blower air is moving – a measurement most people are familiar with as airspeed or vehicle speed is commonly described in this unit. A model capable of higher/faster MPH is useful when you’re moving heavy or wet items but it isn’t the only factor you should look at. 
The truth is, faster airspeed doesn’t equate to better blowing.
Cubic feet per minute tells you what air volume is moving through the blower vac mulcher in a minute, describing the blowing strength.
A leaf blower vacuum with CFM of 450 can move 450 cubic feet of leaves in a minute. The cubic feet per minute pushing power determines the real power of the blower with its capacity to push debris and leaves out of the way.
So then, is one rating more important than the other when looking for the best leaf vacuum mulcher?
Yes, and no.
You need a combination of MPH and CFM to get the job done efficiently and quickly. The airspeed needs to be high enough to do more than rustle leaves on the ground; the amount of air moving through the unit needs to be strong enough to move large quantities.
Generally the higher MPH, the more expensive the unit.
Based on the leaf vacuum reviews I read, I suggest that a leaf mulcher vac that has higher CFM and a lower MPH might be the better buy.
Mulching (Reduction Ratio/Power)
Vacuuming and mulching can save you a ton of time when it comes to yard cleanup. Instead of raking, bagging, and a trip to the recycling center, a mulcher can help to simplify those chores.
We all know the best thing you should do with your leaves is to mulch them!
After the vacuum sucks leaves in through the nozzle, a metal blade shreds everything into pieces a fraction of their original size. The reduction ratio describes how small the material is broken down.
According to other reviews, the best leaf vacuum mulchers typically have a reduction mulch ratio between 8:1 and 12:1. This means they take 8 to 12 bags of leaves and mulch then down into a single bag, significantly decreasing the final product you have to contend with.
Some of these 3-in-1 machines can mulch 16 leaf bags into only one!
Mulched leaves are also more prepared for composting because the overall size and surface area of each piece is decreased, and that makes it simpler for microorganisms and beneficial bacteria to digest them when the mulch is added to a compost pile or spread across your lawn or garden.
Studies show that mulching your grass and leaves for 3 years will result in a large decrease in crabgrass and dandelions in your grass.
After creating leaf mulch, spread it out over your lawn.
Bagging leaves is an eco-friendly way to handle your lawn waste. You’ll never have to blow your excess leaves out into the street or rake them into large piles again.
While the reduction ratio is important as mentioned above, the bagging capacity of your model should be considered as well.
There’s a fine balance between a machine that holds a large capacity, negating the need to empty it often, without it being so large it is cumbersome and heavy as it gets full.
I believe the best leaf vacuum mulchers have a bagging capacity between 1 and 1.5 bushels. All units with high reviews online fall within this capacity.
Bagging has improved dramatically over the years, and now many machines come with a reusable leaf bag that is lined with disposable bags. When the bag is full, you simply remove the disposable bag, tie it up, and recycle.
The accessories included with your leaf vacuum mulcher can greatly impact the efficiency of your yard cleanup. While they aren’t a necessity, I think the following are important to look for:
- Adjustable shoulder strap.
- Easy empty bottom-zippered collection bag.
- Concentration nozzle for tight spaces.
- Oscillating tube.
Ease of Use
A 3-in-1 unit that functions as a vacuum, blower, and mulcher simplifies your job by combining numerous tools in ones.
To find the best one for your needs, look for a leaf vacuum mulcher that changes from one function to another with a simple nozzle switch or lever saving you time and trips to the garage or shed for tools.
It’s important that the yard vacuum mulcher you choose feels comfortable in your hands instead of bulky or unwieldy. An adjustable shoulder strap helps to distribute the weight across your body instead of relying solely on your arms/shoulders to heft your equipment.
The collection bag should come on and off easily depending on the function you are performing. Bags with a zipper are easier to empty since you don’t have to hoist a full bag to dump it.
Why Should You Buy a Leaf Vacuum Mulcher
Leaf vacuums are great for removing small quantities of leaves and debris from tight spots, in any location where it would be difficult to use a leaf rake.
Use one instead of raking larger quantities of leaves from your yard.
Leaf blowers use air created by an on-board blower and forced out of a nozzle to move debris, dead leaves, and other materials to the outskirts of an area.
They are great for cleaning up your driveway and sidewalk in addition to cleaning your yard. During the spring they are useful for blowing pollen off of your porch or patio; in the winter use a leaf blower to quickly clear a light dusting of snow instead of shoveling.
Leaf mulchers take garden waste and shred it down into mulch. They use either metal impeller blades or string similar to that on a weed trimmer to reduce items into smaller pieces. 
Most homeowners are familiar with the concept and usefulness of leaf blowers but aren’t as acquainted with vacuums or mulchers.
While a high-quality blower is an essential lawn and garden machine, why buy 3 machines instead of 1 when there are now excellent combination vacuum/blower/mulchers available for a very reasonable price?
Newer combo tools let you change quickly between vacuuming, blowing, and mulching. A leaf vacuum mulcher can rapidly convert a huge pile of leaves and debris into a much smaller amount of mulch that is compost-ready that you can either spread in the garden or take to a nearby waste facility.
Shredding leaves can typically reduce the volume of waste by a 16 to 1 mulch ratio, which means that you’ll be able to clean up a large yard filled with leaves and end up with only one bag to dispose of.
What To Look For In a Top Rated Model
Here’s a checklist you can follow when researching the best leaf vacuum:
- Make sure you have easy access to a fan area so you can clear blockages simply.
- Test your machine in the store to make sure it doesn’t vibrate too much.
- Your vacuum/mulcher should have comfortable handles.
- You’ll need a model with a trigger lock that will allow you to operate the machine without having to hold down the trigger constantly.
Choosing a Power Source
When it comes to how the motor on a leaf vacuum mulcher is powered, there are 3 different options: gasoline, electric, and battery-powered electric.
Each one comes with its own set of pros and cons.
- Gasoline leaf vacs are powerful, but noisy, and give off exhaust fumes.
- Corded electric leaf vacs are less powerful than gasoline and keep you tethered to an outlet, but they are lighter and quieter.
- Battery-run leaf vacs have great range and mobility but are heavy and have a limited run time.
Gasoline leaf vacs will provide you with the most power and highest air speeds because of a more forceful motor. With the power comes greater vibration, noise, and exhaust emission though, and they typically need to be started with a pull-start cord.
While they make quick work of big jobs, according to other leaf vacuum reviews, they are more tiresome to maneuver.
If you are looking for a leaf vac/blower/mulcher that is relatively quiet and does not emit fumes, stay clear of a gas leaf vacuum mulcher and opt for an electric motor that is corded or battery operated.
An electric leaf vacuum is best if you want one-handed use, inexpensive cost, zero exhaust emissions, and a push-button start.
Their output approaches that of gas blowers, so if you have a smaller yard and a power outlet that’s within 100 ft. of your work area then a corded model can be ideal for you.
Choose a battery-powered blower vacuum if you have a larger area to cover. You will enjoy increased range and mobility since there won’t be a cord to hold you back. Battery powered vac mulchers are also less noisy.
They will be a little heavier because of the battery pack, and they’ll have to be frequently recharged.
Just remember that a rechargeable battery has a run time limit of one hour tops (even less if you are doing heavy mulching) so you’ll have some downtime waiting for the battery to recharge.
Difference Between Cheap and Expensive Models
There is a perfect leaf vacuum out there for all tastes and every budget.
On the less expensive side are smaller, less-powerful vacuum/blowers. They function well for homeowners with a small yard.
On the slightly more expensive side, there are very powerful blower, vacuum, and mulcher combinations. They perform the same functions as the vacuum/blowers with the added ability to mulch leaves into a fraction of their original size.
These are best if you have a larger yard.
The power source of a leaf vacuum blower mulcher also affects the overall cost of the model.
Gas leaf vacuum mulchers have a higher price tag than either type of leaf vacuums; this is because of the higher air output ratings they produce.
In terms of electric vacs, battery operated are more expensive than a machine that runs via an extension cord. This is related to the cost of the rechargeable battery, but you end up with a lot more mobility and battery powered tools are more comfortable to use and very quiet.
Top Rated Brands
Regardless of the individual models, some of the best selling and consistently top rated brands in outdoor equipment are:
- Sun Joe
- Poulan Pro
Their products are known to be high quality and made to last. These brands are a great place to start looking for the top leaf vacuum mulcher blower combo.
How Much Should I Expect To Pay?
All of the leaf vacuum mulcher options recommended here range in price from $50 to $150, with an average price of around $80. Their price tags are dependent on the features they offer, the type and power of the motor, etc.
When it comes to deciding how much to pay for the best leaf vacuum, think about the needs you are trying to meet and how far you can stretch your budget.
Are you limited by a budget?
If you don’t absolutely need a 3-in-1 unit, a less expensive option is to buy a leaf blower or a leaf vacuum (with or without a mulcher).
If you want to stick with a 3-in-1 took, a lighter, more compact unit might have less power than a larger model, but it will be cheaper.
Do you have a smaller yard and really don’t need all the bells and whistles of a fancy model? Then skip the more expensive, gas leaf vacuum mulcher and opt for an electric leaf vacuum. A corded model will cost even less than a battery operated model.
Large yards with lots of leaves to tackle, require a model built to last that has more options and a stronger motor to quickly tackle a big project. In this case, you’d be best to spend a bit more money on something suitable for the size of your yard.
Q. How do I switch from blower to vacuum?
A. Switching from blower to vacuum function on your equipment entails moving the tube feeding the nozzle to the opposite side of the fan, depending on whether you need suction or forced air.
On many models this procedure was designed to be incredibly easy, only taking a few seconds, and doesn’t require any special tools.
Some models are more cumbersome to switch back and forth and require tools to remove and reattach the tube.
Specific directions are included in the owner’s manual for your equipment and should be followed to minimize safety risks or equipment malfunction. 
Q. Can you use a leaf vacuum on wet leaves?
A. Using your leaf vacuum on wet leaves is doable, but is more difficult than dry leaves. It may also require a quick change of accessories or adjustment of the speed control for better efficiency.
Wet leaves are heavier than dry leaves making them more difficult to move. When using the blower function utilize the power insert attachment if your model came with one, and increase the MPH for faster airspeed, being careful not to damage the lawn or flowerbeds underneath the leaves.
When using the vacuum/mulcher function move through small sections at a time, being careful to not clog the mulcher. 
Q. What safety precautions should a user follow when operating a leaf vacuum/blower/mulcher?
A. Any user operating a leaf vacuum/blower/mulcher should follow basic safety precautions and use proper eye and ear protection as is recommended with any power tool.
Safety glasses protect your eyes from flying debris and dust; earplugs protect your ears from the noise generated by the motor and blower/fan. Wear heavy-duty non-slip gloves and avoid any clothing or loose items that can be sucked into the air intake.
Avoid operating when standing on a ladder or other unstable surface. Children should never be allowed to operate a leaf vacuum/blower/mulcher.
Q. What type of maintenance is required?
A. Maintenance is required to keep your leaf vacuum blower mulcher to ensure a longer life span of your equipment.
The maintenance and cleaning necessary differ slightly depending on if your model is gas-powered or runs off of electricity. Gas models require routine cleaning of the gas filter and carburetor for them to start easier and run smoothly.
Electric models should be periodically wiped down with a dilute liquid soap solution to remove dust, making sure to stay clear of the motor and any other sharp features.
Check both types routinely for blockages and debris, removing any obstructions.
Q. Can you operate the machine without the collection bag attached?
A. You can operate the machine without the collection bag attached and most leaf vacuum mulchers will still run without it, whether it is left off intentionally or comes off accidentally.
When operating in blower mode, there is no need to have it attached; to collect leaves in vacuum mode it needs to be secured to the machine. If you are mulching leaves and debris it is recommended to use the bag because of the small particles and dust generated.
If you choose to let the mulch fall directly onto the lawn instead of collecting it, the manufacturers recommended the user wear a dust mask to prevent inhaling small particulate matter.
Q. Will a blower vac mulcher pick up landscape or lava rocks?
A. Your blower vac mulcher can and may pick up landscape or lava rocks depending on their size and the suction power of your individual model. However, intentionally picking up rocks should be avoided if at all possible.
When in mulching mode rocks that are suctioned up through the nozzle can damage the metal blades if they are large enough, potentially rendering it useless.
Damages such as this are not covered under the manufacturer’s limited warranty.
To avoid damage it is best to use the blower function on your model to move leaves and debris out of areas containing rock; then switch to the vacuum/mulcher mode to suction them up.
Q. Do the corded electric leaf vacuums need a special extension cord?
A. No, corded electric models do not need a special extension cord for operation. They run off of a standard, grounded outdoor extension cord, which is not included in the purchase of your equipment.
These cords are available for purchase in a variety of lengths and different gauges through online retailers or locally through hardware stores, big box retailers, etc.
Try to keep the length of the cord to a minimum, buying one only slightly longer than the span of your yard. A cord’s capacity to carry an electrical charge decreases as it gets longer and never link more than one power cord together for maximum safety.
Q. How easy is it to clear blockage or jams in the impeller or blade?
A. Many models make it easy to clear blockage or jams in the impeller or blades. They have easy access to the blades via a gate that removes or hinges open.
Other models require a screwdriver or other tool for access. Check your owner’s manual for specific instructions.
Before accessing it make sure the equipment is turned off (spark plug disengaged on gas-powered models, corded models are unplugged, the battery is removed from battery-operated models), and the “kill switch” is engaged if applicable. Once the gate is open carefully remove any debris.
Q. Can you use your leaf vacuum as a pool leaf vacuum?
A. No, you should never use your leaf vacuum as a pool leaf vacuum as it poses a serious risk to the user and the equipment. A pool leaf vacuum is a separate piece of outdoor equipment, specially designed to suck up water and leaves simultaneously.
Using your leaf vacuum to clean your pool poses an electrical risk to yourself and can damage your equipment, shorting out the electrical components. 
Q. Does it make sense to buy a walk behind leaf vacuum?
A. It makes sense to buy a walk behind leaf vacuum if you have a very large yard or physical ailment that makes it difficult to carry a handheld model. Walk behind leaf vacuums make leaf cleanup as easy as pushing a mower but are more expensive than handheld vacuums.
They are made to pick up light debris from the yard such as leaves, small sticks, grass clippings, pine needles, etc.
Similar to lawnmowers, they can either be push leaf vacuums that depend on your strength to push them around the yard or they can be self-propelled, requiring you to only guide them over the leaves.
Q. Is it better to just mow over my leaves?
A. Yes, it is normally better to mow over your leaves instead of reducing them with your leaf vacuum if your lawn mower has mulching capabilities. Mulching blades feature more curves and cutting edges than standard mower blades.
Their curved surface and increased cutting edges cut the grass, and then spin it back into the mower deck where it is cut several more times before the small pieces fall back to the lawn.
If there are less than 3-inches of dry leaves scattered across your lawn, you can save yourself time and energy by using your lawn mower to mulch them instead.
Q. What is the difference between commercial and homeowner mulchers?
A. Commercial and homeowner mulchers perform a similar function but on a widely different scale. Commercial mulchers are designed to handle the load of large-scale jobs, such as those performed by a landscaping company.
They typically attach behind a commercial lawn mower (or are available as a walk-behind unit) and have much more power – upwards of 2500 to 3000 CFM – than handheld mulchers used by homeowners.
This increase in power and larger impellers allow them to chew through larger lawn debris such as pinecones, and small sticks.
After researching all the top models available on the market, I highly recommend the Toro 51621 as the best leaf blower vacuum mulcher for most homeowners.
My recommendation is backed by high accolades online, as the Toro 51621 has great leaf blower vacuum reviews from consumers.
- Superior blowing and mulching proven by controlled laboratory testing
- Powerful up to 250 mph degree. 350 CFM blow mode and 410 CFM Vac mode
- Vacuum tube, bottom-zip bag, cord storage hook, shred-all shred ring and time-saving oscillating...
- Variable speed control for better control in both blower and vac mode
This all-around model is extremely powerful, performs reliably, and has a relatively light (8.8 pounds) space-saving design.
It can comfortably be used with either one or two hands and has a variable speed knob allowing you to adjust airflow from barely a trickle up to 250 MPH.
This workhorse is capable of moving 350 CFM in blower mode, and an impressive 410 CFM in vacuum mode. A total mulching capacity of 10:1 reduces leaves to a fraction of their original size.
The Toro 51621 is a great balance of price and performance, providing you with a leaf vacuum mulcher that won’t disappoint!