Table of Contents
- What Does a Leaf Mulcher Do?
- Reasons to Mulch Leaves
- What to Do with Mulched Leaves
- Features to Look for in a Leaf Mulcher
- Can You Mulch with a Standard Mower?
- The 5 Best Leaf Mulchers to Buy
Whether you are a lawn care enthusiast or prefer a low-key approach to yard work, a leaf mulcher may be your ticket to maintaining an attractive lawn. These appliances can streamline your outdoor routine and provide an easy way to keep your turf in good shape. Ahead, learn what’s involved in using a leaf mulcher shredder, and decide which of the top choices will best suit your needs.
What Does a Leaf Mulcher Do?
A leaf shredder or leaf mulcher is a yard appliance that chops fallen leaves into tiny pieces. Available in a variety of styles, a leaf mulcher may use a string mechanism or powerful blades to transform the leaves into mulch. It may work similarly to a lawn mower, be a freestanding appliance, or be a portable vacuum-style tool. Whichever option you choose, the best leaf mulcher will be one that easily breaks down your autumn leaves into manageable scraps.
Reasons to Mulch Leaves
A leaf mulcher shredded isn’t just another neat yard tool to store on the wall of your garage. Rather, this helpful tool may lighten your outdoor workload, help you feel environmentally friendly, and improve the growing conditions of your yard.
1. Mulching Is Easier
Do you ever get tired of raking and bagging leaves? If so, mulching might be the right alternative for you. With mulching, all you have to do is run your leaves through a chopper. What you do with them after that is up to you. Whether you leave the scraps on your lawn or bag them for pickup, you may find that using a leaf mulcher saves you a good deal of time.
2. Mulching Recycles Leaves
Bagging leaves wastes their potential. Dead leaves are useful lawn care supplies. Allowing them to remain in your yard in order to feed the grass and other plants is cheaper than buying expensive yard care products from your local home improvement store, and it also keeps leaves out of landfills.
3. Mulching Improves the Soil
It’s smart to recycle your leaves because decomposing leaves can nourish soil and the plants that grow in them. Research has indicated that soil fed by mulched leaves may contain more carbon and nitrogen than regular soil. You may also end up with a yard that is more pleasing to your eye; studies have shown that yards with mulched leaves may grow fewer dandelions.
What to Do with Mulched Leaves
Mulching allows your leaves to continue to work for you, long after they’ve fallen from the trees. Here’s how to put your leaf remnants to good use.
1. Leave Them In Place
The easiest thing to do when you are finished chopping your leaves into tiny segments is to leave them right where they are. When you do this, they can continue to decompose and nourish the grass on which they sit.
Keep in mind, however, that leaves do not always fall evenly. Some areas of your yard may have a surplus while others have none at all. In areas with too many leaves, the grass may become smothered. Areas with barely any leaves won’t benefit from the presence of mulched debris. Therefore, even if you opt to leave your mulched clippings in place, you might want to lightly go over the yard with a rake to spread out the collection of mulch.
Additionally, consider adding fertilizer with a high nitrogen content to your yard. This can help your leaves fully break down over the course of the winter.
2. Bag Them
Some communities offer yard waste disposal for debris and clippings that have been transferred to a collection bag. Mulched leaves take up less bag space than whole leaves, which makes disposal easier. You may choose to gather your chopped leaves and put them in a bag for the local waste collection company to take away.
Placing a collection bag on your mulcher can make transferring the mulch to a disposal bag an easier process. After thoroughly chopping the leaves, go over the yard one last time with the side bag in place in order to pick up the debris for disposal.
3. Use Them as Plant Food
Your grass isn’t the only type of plant that can benefit from the presence of chopped leaves. You can also scoop up handfuls of mulch and set them around the plants in your yard, including trees, bushes, and shrubs. Packing mulched leaves around these plants can help protect and nourish them all winter long.
If you don’t want to set chopped leaves directly on your plants, you can also add them to your compost pile. Leaves provide carbon for compost piles. When you later transfer the compost to your plant beds, the nutrients from the leaves will go with it.
4. Turn Them Into Leaf Mold
Like composting, making leaf mold helps the leaves decompose quickly. In fact, leaf mold is essentially leaf-specific compost. To make it, gather your leaf clippings in a composting bin that you have dedicated to your leaves. Pack them in, and then make sure to keep the collection moist all winter long.
In the spring, remove your leaf mold from the bin. Mix it with soil to create a rich, nourishing environment for your plants.
Features to Look for in a Leaf Mulcher
Leaf mulchers come in a variety of styles. As you are shopping, consider which of the following features would be most useful for your yard.
- Design: Mulchers can be freestanding tools, or they can be portable devices. Some are mower-style push tools, and others are leaf vacuum mulchers.
- Collection bag: Many mulchers come with their own bag for gathering leaf scraps. It’s important that these leaves have dust-blocking capabilities, so they don’t surround you in a cloud of ultra-fine leaf debris. Other mulchers can accommodate a bag, but you must purchase it separately.
- Chopping mechanism: Some leaf shredders use metal or plastic blades, and others use strings to cut the leaves.
- Power supply: Leaf mulchers may be corded, gas-powered or battery-powered. Electric ones won’t run out of power as you’re mulching, but you must stay within the range of your outlet. Gas- or battery-operated units do not always deliver as much power, but they do offer freedom of movement.
Can You Mulch with a Standard Mower?
A regular lawn mower may do a fair job of turning your leaves into mulch, even if it’s not designed expressly for that purpose. However, it probably won’t produce as fine of a final product.
If you choose to use your regular mower for mulching, raise the blade to the highest position before beginning. You may want to switch out your standard blade for one with a serrated edge.
For those looking to mulch with a mower on a regular basis, it’s worth investing in a mower designed for this purpose. Some lawn mowers are equipped to both cut grass and mulch clippings and leaves. These mowers typically come with a mulch plug that you fit into place whenever you want to chop up yard waste, and they do the job more effectively than a non-mulching mower.
The 5 Best Leaf Mulchers to Buy
The best leaf mulcher is one that quickly chops leaves into fine pieces and can be used by both novices and experts. The following five tools will help you keep your yard in top shape.
1. Worx WG430 Electric Leaf Mulcher/Shredder
This electric shredder is a freestanding device that you can set up in positions around your yard. Rake or blow leaves into a large pile, and then transfer the leaves into the mulcher.
There are no blades on this device. Instead, it uses trimmer string to achieve a fine shred. This Worx leaf mulcher can reduce the volume of leaves in an 11:1 ratio, and it can accept up to 53 gallons of leaves every minute.
You can affix your own bags to the bottom of the mulcher for easy collection. The system works with both paper and plastic bags.
The motor is designed to reduce the distribution of dust. This can help keep the air around you clean and clear as you work.
2. GreatCircleUSA 3 IN 1 Multi-Function Pro Wood Chipper Shredder
If your yard collects not only fallen leaves but also sticks, bark, and other major debris, consider upgrading to a shredder that can tackle both leaves and tree limbs. The GreatCircleUSA wood chipper shredder can chop up pieces of wood that are up to 3 inches in diameter.
This wheeled device is powered by gasoline, so you can pull it around your yard without worrying about cords or plugs. Its tank can hold up to 0.7 gallons of unleaded gasoline.
A vacuum inlet at the back of the machine is designed especially for feeding leaves into this gas-powered leaf mulcher. A hose kit, sold separately, makes it easy to suck leaves directly off the ground. Top and side feeders accommodate branches. An attachable bag collects the debris.
3. Worx WG779 Cordless Lawn Mower with Mulching Capabilities
If you are limited on storage space for outdoor tools, consider this Worx product, which doubles as both a mulcher and a mower. Even better, it folds compactly for storage in small garages.
Unlike many lawn mowers, this one runs on rechargeable batteries. There are no extension cords to worry about, and you don’t have to regularly purchase gasoline for it. The two 20-volt batteries can cover a 5,000-square-foot yard on a single charge.
The Worx mower comes with a mulching plug that you can pop into place whenever you are ready to do some mulching. It can chop up both grass blades and tree leaves. There is also a removable collection bag that you can use to gather scraps. The mower uses a mulching blade that is 13 inches long.
4. Sun Joe IONBV-CT Variable-Speed Cordless Blower/Vacuum/Mulcher
Like the Black+Decker tool above, the Sun Joe device works as both a blower and a vacuum, so can you use both methods to keep your property free of leaves. Equipped with a 5.0-amp battery, this is a good option for the best cordless leaf vacuum. There are two built-in wheels that help you steer the device around your yard when you use it in the vacuum mode.
The Sun Joe tool has an impeller to shred the leaves that it sucks up. It reduces their size at a 17:1 ratio. This cordless leaf vacuum mulcher directs the chopped leaves into an attached collection bag. The storage bag has a capacity of 16 gallons.
5. Black+Decker BEBL7000 Back Pack Leaf Blower Vacuum and Mulcher
This Black+Decker item is a top choice for the best leaf vacuum. This corded unit sucks up leaves and grinds them into small bits. The collection bag straps to your back for easy carrying.
As a bonus, this vacuum mulcher can also work as a leaf blower. You can use that feature to clear dirt, dust, and debris in areas that don’t require mulching. It can blow debris at speeds of up to 250 miles per hour.
This leaf vacuum mulcher has plastic blades that grind up the leaves. They are then transferred to the backpack-style storage bag. To keep the bag closed, you first roll the end and then clip it shut. Its wide opening makes it easy to transfer mulched leaves into a yard waste bag or your compost pile.
The next time that you want to improve your yard work skills, invest in a top-rated leaf mulcher. It may help you maintain an attractive, well-manicured lawn that impresses your neighbors and gives you the satisfaction of a job well done. All of the above mulchers are recommended tools for efficient lawn care.