Types of Lawn Sweepers

Brian Barth
DR Leaf and Lawn Vacuum
DR Leaf and Lawn Vacuum

Lawn sweepers are an alternative to raking or using a blower to remove debris from the lawn. They are wheeled devices with rotating brushes that pull leaves, twigs, grass clippings, pine straw or other lightweight materials from the lawn and deposit them in a removable bag. They are less laborious and more efficient to use than a rake and are not as noisy as a blower.

Power Sweepers

Power sweepers can either be gas or electric-powered and make light work of cleaning up large areas. They are also referred to as lawn or leaf vacuums and often have added features such as a chipper/shredder device that reduces the volume of the debris so it is easier to dispose.

Pros and Cons

The self-propelled models push themselves along at a comfortable walking speed, vastly reducing the labor involved in cleaning up a lawn. The motorized brushes pick up a larger volume of debris in each load than a push sweeper and have much more vacuuming power.

Even though some power sweepers propel themselves, their sheer weight of some can make them hard to handle in certain situations. You still have to muscle it around turns and it can be a major ordeal if you need to pick it up to put it in a truck or go up steps with it. Plus, the noise, vibration and dust emitted from these machines definitely doesn't make it a relaxing form of yard work.

Best Application

Power sweepers are definitely recommended for large yards or excessively steep yards where using a push sweeper would be arduous. The self-propelled models are also helpful for people with back problems who are unable to push an unmotorized sweeper.

Recommended Models

  • The Craftsman 4 in 1 Lawn Vacuum from Sears is a solid entry level gas-powered sweeper, priced at just over $600. Customers report that the detachable vacuum hose is a welcome feature, making it possible to clean leaf litter out of tight spots where it is not possible to wheel even the tiniest lawn sweeper.
  • DR Power Equipment has a top quality lawn vacuum with an electric-start gas engine for just under $2000. It can chip branches up to two inches in diameter and goes effortlessly up slopes with up to a 20 degree pitch. Most importantly for a large gas-powered machine, it is designed to maneuver into tight spots against walls, though gates and around delicate plants. A two-year warranty is included.
  • An alternative to the expensive wheeled models, the Toro 12 Amp Electric Leaf Blower also serves as a leaf vacuum, propelling yard debris into the handheld bag at a rate of 235 miles per hour, and shredder. It receives 4.5 stars based on over 1000 reviews from Amazon customers. Their website has it listed for $75, including a 2-year warranty.

Hand-Powered Push Sweepers

Push sweepers resemble a rotary mower and are designed to be lightweight, making them easy to operate.

Pros and Cons

The manual sweepers are very quiet and pleasant to use, as there is no engine noise or noxious fumes. Besides, without an engine or motor there is very little that can go wrong. With a little annual maintenance, like lubricating the wheels bearings. they are likely to last many years.

On the downside, you will be doing all the work and the hopper (the bag for collection) is pint-sized compared to the power models. They can be quite impractical on steep terrain or large properties. Hand-powered sweepers also have less power to suck up debris, which can be an issue if the material is in heavy wet clumps.

Best Application

A small, simple push sweeper is perfect for a small lot that is maintained on a weekly basis. Also, some neighborhoods have ordinances restricting noise from power equipment, making non-motorized sweepers the only choice.

Recommended Models

  • Rakuten offers a luxury model push sweeper by Mid-West Products with a whopping eight bushel capacity for $225. Everything about is designed for ease of use, from the oversize wheels that reduce the effort needed to push it to a simplified height adjustment mechanism that moves the brushes up and down with a slight squeeze.
  • Agri-Fab's Push Lawn Sweeper is a lightweight model available through Walmart for around $150. It is 26 inches wide with adjustable levels for sweeping and collapsible. Reviewers note that it is "better than expected" and is "easy to empty and adjust to need".

Lawn Tractor Sweeper Attachments

Riding lawn mowers and garden tractors can take all the work out of lawn clean up by towing a sweeper attachment behind them.

Pros and Cons

Tow behind lawn sweepers cover a lot of ground, based simply on the width of the device - most are over 40 inches wide, meaning a large swath of debris is sucked up with each pass. The operator is seated comfortably in the driver's seat with little to do but steer the equipment and dump out the hopper when it becomes full.

Pull behind sweepers are very cost-effective if you already have a riding lawn mower, but otherwise they are not an option. However, they offer little hope of doing clean up anywhere but wide open spaces where the equipment can be maneuvered without causing damage.

Best Application

These sweepers are only useful on large properties where a riding lawn mower is called for - generally when there is a half acre or more of lawn to maintain. The terrain needs to be fairly flat, too, since riding lawn mowers are unsafe to operate on more than a gentle slope.

Recommended Models

  • Brinly makes one of the most highly rated power sweeping attachments available on the market today. Hayneedle carries their 42-inch model for just under $300. It has a 20 cubic foot capacity and a bar that allows the hopper to be emptied from the seat of the tractor for added convenience.
  • For maximum efficiency when cleaning up large properties, the Ohio Steel Pro Lawn Sweeper attachment is larger than most at 50 inches wide. The heavy duty device also has an extra wide hopper chute to prevent clogging and lists for around $400 at Power Equipment Direct.

In Pursuit of the Perfect Lawn

Lawn sweepers save a lot of time and backache, but they also result in a clean, crisp look that is hard to achieve with just a rake. The sweeping action makes the grass stand up straighter, so seasoned lawn care professionals even use them to prep the lawn for cutting, which gives the turf a sharp uniform haircut.

Types of Lawn Sweepers