Managing fallen leaves can be such a headache. Raking and bagging… and then what? You can send them to a landfill but a much better use of them is to mulch the leaves for your garden or compost pile. If you don’t have a lawnmower with mulching blades, the best solution for this is a leaf mulcher.
What is a leaf mulcher? A leaf mulcher is a powered tool that contains a series of special blades designed to shred leaves into very small pieces. The leaves can then be used for mulching or added to a compost pile.
I deal with a tremendous amount of fallen leaves throughout the year. Fall is especially bad. But I might as well make use of them, right? And so should you. Here’s everything you need to know about shredding leaves with a leaf mulcher and how to choose the right model for your needs.
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How Do Leaf Mulchers Work?
First, let’s make sure we understand what these machines do.
How does a leaf mulcher work? Leaves are placed in a holding container for the machine which funnels them through the special blades of the leaf mulcher. The blades shred the leaves and deposit them into a bin or basket underneath.
Below is an example of a leaf mulcher. (image links to the product on Amazon)
Some mulchers do not actually have blades per se. They often use some form of a metal string, sort of like a weed eater on steroids, but the principle is the same. As the leaves pass through the chamber of the mulcher, they are shredded by the fast-spinning metal piece before being deposited into the catch chamber.
As a homeowner, you are able to make fast and easy work of leaf piles by churning them through your leaf mulcher. If you do intend to bag them, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to find that you can fit a lot more shredded leaves into a bag than you can without mulching them!
You can also use compostable trash bags to pile them up and let the leave molding process begin while the bags slowly decompose.
Who Are They For?
Are leaf mulchers worth it? Leaf mulchers are worth it for someone who doesn’t want to use a mulching blade on their mower or wants to speed up the decomposition of the leaves for composting.
For more information, read How To Clean Up And Mulch Leaves Without A Lawn Mower.
Mulching leaves to use in compost or gardens is a much better solution than sending them in plastic bags to a landfill or burning them.
Uses For Leaf Mulch
Using shredded leaves as mulch in garden beds and around plants is an excellent way to prevent weed growth while providing a slow-release nutrient source that will feed the soil as it decomposes (source).
This is probably a better solution than using pine straw as mulch since it will have less pH impact on the soil. In fact, studies have shown that leaf mulch adds impressive amounts of nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium for your soil and garden plants (source).
These are some of the essential building blocks for plant growth and they are readily available in the fallen leaves spread across your yard.
I’ve also come to realize that mulching leaves prior to putting them in a compost pile can significantly accelerate the decomposition process when mixed with nitrogen-rich organic material.
Do I Need A Leaf Mulcher?
Deciding on whether or not you need to buy a leaf mulcher comes down to a couple of questions.
First, do you already have a mower that has a mulching blade? If so, you probably do not need a leaf mulcher. There is nothing wrong with just shredding the leaves and leaving them on your lawn. In fact, there is a lot of benefit to this.
The second question is this – do you have enough leaves that it’s worth buying a leaf mulcher? I can’t answer this one for you. Here’s the best way to decide:
- If you are raking and bagging several bags of leaves at a time, a leaf mulcher can provide you a way to bag more and to make use of this valuable organic material.
- If you have a very small yard and less than a wheelbarrow worth of leaves to deal with, you probably don’t need one. Bag the leaves in a compostable trash bag, set them aside, and let them rot.
So, if you are like me and have way too many leaves to bag, you’ll probably benefit from a leaf mulcher. There are a ton of brands and models to choose from but let’s trim it down to two basic options…
What Is The Best Leaf Mulcher?
First and foremost, there is no single “best leaf mulcher”. It all comes down to your needs. So, I’ve categorized these by use with each featured product being an excellent option for that need.
Best Heavy Use Leaf Mulcher: Flowtron LE-900
If you are managing huge piles of leaves and need to move through them quickly, the Flowtron LE-900 is an excellent high-volume leaf mulcher.
This machine can reduce 11 bags of leaves into shreds that fit in a single bag. It can mulch wet or dry leaves and offers settings for fine, medium, or coarse shredding. The “Fine” setting provides a 30:1 reduction in particle size (source).
Here’s a short video of the Flowtron LE-900 in action:
Weight: 17 lbs.
Dimensions: 19.5″ x 19.5″ x 23″
Ironically, this model has a lighter weight and smaller footprint than our Best-All-Around pick. So keep that in mind too.
Click here to check the latest pricing (link to Amazon)
Best All-Around: WORX WG430 Foldable Bladeless Electric Leaf Mulcher
For the vast majority of homeowners, the WORX WG430 is going to be the best leaf mulcher to fit their needs.
Offering 13 amps and an 11:1 particle size reduction ratio (source), this leaf mulcher is powerful enough to handle the majority of work that an average homeowner is going to throw at it while not taking up much space.
You strap a bag underneath and just start dropping the leaves into the bin. It’s a little heavier than the Flowtron but its fold-down design is what really makes this one a great choice for most homeowners. Having a way to compactly store yard tools like this makes it less of a headache to own one.
The one downfall of this one can be the plastic strings that are used in place of blades. From a safety perspective, it’s a good call but they do have to be replaced from time to time.
Also, this one really shouldn’t be used with wet leaves so keep that in mind when making a buying decision. But again, for the majority of homeowners doing light to medium work, it’s a solid product from a reliable brand.
This YouTuber gives a short and precise review of the WORX WG430. The demonstration begins around 4:40 minutes in.
Weight: 20 lbs.
Dimensions: 22.6″ x 22.6″ x 13.2″
Check the latest pricing and availability (link to Amazon)
There are a lot of reasons why you may choose to rake your leaves instead of just mulching them in place but it makes sense to use a leaf mulcher to grind them up and put them to use in a garden or compost pile.
Leaves are a free organic material that we can use to add nutrient-rich matter back into the soil. Shredding them with a leaf mulcher may be just the solution for managing them that you are looking for.
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