Unlike leaf blowers, lawn vacuums actually remove sticks and leaves from the yard, eliminating the need for rakes and bags. Some machines mulch leaves, making composting simple. Lawn and leaf vacuums also keep leaves out of gutters and streets, where they wash into streams and waterways, causing pollution and excess algae growth.
Lawn vacuums are available in three different varieties. Hand-held models resemble leaf blowers and suck up small areas of leaves. They can reach into nooks and crannies as well. Push vacuums work like push lawn mowers. As the homeowner pushes them across the yard, they remove leaves and debris. Ride-on mower machines pull the largest lawn vacuum models behind them while the machine sucks up leaves.
Costs vary considerably among models and styles. Hand-held vacuums typically cost under $100 (as of 2010). Push-style vacuums cost between $400 and $700, while the rider-style mowers are well over $1000 (as of 2010). Maintenance and fuel costs are higher for larger machines, as well.
Available features vary depending on the model and cost, but typical features include hoses and attachments similar to those found on an indoor vacuum. These hoses simplify vacuuming flower beds and tight corners. Some hand-held machines have a blower feature, while larger machines may mulch and compress the leaves. One aspect to consider is how easy the bag is to empty. Some are more convenient than others.
Lawn vacuums are generally either electric or gasoline powered, although a few push mowers are man-powered. Electric-powered machines are quieter than gasoline machines, but are limited in their reach to the length of the cord. Gasoline powered machines are more powerful and can be taken anywhere. All ride-on machines are gasoline powered.
When choosing a lawn vacuum, consider the size of the yard, the amount of trees and potential storage space for the machine. Hand-held models work well for small yards with limited trees. Push machines are adequate for all but the largest yards. Ride-on models clean up debris, including sticks, on large lots and acreage. They cost the most, require more fuel and need a larger storage area.