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For the last few months, I’ve been exploring some different uses for leaves since my yard gets a nice blanket of them, especially in the fall. There are a lot of benefits to mulching leaves whether you spread them directly onto the lawn or create a leaf mold bin, leaves break down much faster when they are mulched. But what if you don’t have a lawnmower or your mower doesn’t have mulching blades? I’ve spent a lot of time looking into this and, as it turns out, you have some really great options.
The best solution for mulching leaves without a lawnmower is to use a stand-alone leaf mulcher. These are electric, lightweight products that will shred leaves and deposit them into a trash bag or box so that they can be added to compost or used for leaf mulch.
Let’s look at exactly how to collect those leaves and mulch them so that you can put them to good use.
First Things First – Don’t Burn Your Leaves
When I was growing up, burning yard waste was the defacto method of cleaning up debris. There are a lot of reasons that we should not burn yard waste, but the point I want to make here is that those leaves have some really great uses. You can make leaf mold, add it to your compost heap, create bedding for a vermicompost bin, or just spread the mulched leaves out over your lawn to add more organic material to your soil. With so many uses, there is no reason to burn it.
With that out of the way, here are several products designed for mulching leaves without a lawnmower:
WORX WG430 13 Amp Foldable Bladeless Electric Leaf Mulcher
If you want an easy way to mulch leaves without a lawnmower, this electric leaf mulcher from Worx is an excellent solution. Easy to set up, no gasoline required, and it’s even designed to hold a large plastic bag underneath for the mulched leaves to fall into. Use compostable trash bags for a truly all-in-one solution.
The main benefit that this mulching solution offers is that it can be stored in a garage until needed and then quickly plugged in and put to work. No lawnmower required. There are other models available so do your research and find the one that best fits your needs but the Worx WG430 should be a well-rounded solution for most.
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Is Mulching Leaves Worth The Effort?
From my perspective, this comes down to time. If you just bag up your leaves in a compostable trash bag and pile up the bags, the leaves will slowly decompose. The same will happen if you toss them in a compost pile. Mulching is a tradeoff in time. You take the time to shred up the leaves now and it saves you time in the long run as the leaves are able to decompose faster.
Whether or not it’s worth it depends on how you value that time. Do you want to put the effort in now to speed up the decomposition or just pile them up and let nature do its thing at its own sweet pace? There’s really no right or wrong in my opinion. It just comes down to how fast you want to turn the leaves into something nutritionally beneficial for your lawn or plants.
How To Clean Up Leaves Without A Rake (And Without Bending)
This is a great bonus tip! If you like the idea of mulching your leaves but aren’t excited about raking and bending to pick up the piles, consider a Leaf and Grass Sweeper.
You can get a stand-alone push style sweeper or opt for a pull-behind for a lawnmower but since we’re focusing on mulching leaves without a lawnmower, let’s look first at the stand-alone push style.
This 21-inch model from Earthwise has a built-in collection basket and is designed to be pushed around in much the same way you would push a lawnmower. It has a dial on the front to adjust the height, the collection bag is removable to allow you to easily pour your leaves into your electric mulcher, and it even folds up for easy wall storage in a shed or garage. Best suited for a smaller yard that you could mow with a push mower.
It’s designed specifically for leaf and grass collection and so it does not pick up rocks and other objects. They claim about an 80% pick-up rate on the first pass. What I’d tell you is to manage your expectations when it comes to sweepers. They aren’t perfect but they can make a huge difference in labor when compared to raking alone.
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If you have a big yard like I do that requires a riding mower, you will likely benefit from a pull-behind grass and leaf sweeper like the Agri-Fab 45-0320 (link to Amazon). This is a 42-inch tow behind with a 12 cubic foot catch bin for collected leaves. Agri-Fab is a solid brand. I wouldn’t have any reservations about buying one of their products. It’s also backed by a 3-year limited warranty. That adds a little peace of mind.
Mulching Leaves For Leaf Mold
One of the simplest ways to take advantage of mulched leaves is to create a leaf mold bin. Leaf mold is the result of decomposing leaves through the help of fungus (source). You can use leaf mold for potting soil, as an additive to the soil, mulch in flower beds, and a number of other beneficial applications.
This YouTube video outlines the benefits of making leaf mold and provides a simple solution to creating a bin for your mulched leaves.
Leaf mold also has excellent water retention, being able to retain water up to 500% of its weight (source). This makes it an incredibly beneficial additive for soils that do not retain moisture.
You can absolutely collect and mulch leaves without a lawnmower and it’s a much better solution than burning them. Depending on your needs, there are a wide number of applications for mulched leaves. And if you are facing a yard blanketed with fallen leaves like me, why not take advantage of them?
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