Best leaf mulchers: cordless, vacuum, electric, walk-behind, tow-behind

Aside from the cool breeze and longer nights, autumn is known for its lovely foliage. It brings a nice patchwork of fallen dried leaves in bright red and yellow hues. But waking up to piles of dead leaves spread across your lawn every morning could leave you with no choice. You need to do the laborious task of raking and bagging them constantly.

While that could help you shed those calories, it could also be a real headache if you have to do it regularly. Thankfully, you can simplify this task by using a leaf mulcher. Like a waste oil heater, it is a practical investment. It will save your precious time and contribute to preserving the environment. They come in different shapes and power capacities. They also vary in functionality as well as ease of use. This article will discuss the factors to consider when buying. We’ll look at some of the best leaf mulchers you can find on the market.

wood chipper

Types

A leaf mulcher eases the task of cleaning up the yard. It is a handheld or standalone machine that vacuums and shreds everything into tiny pieces for easy dumping or composting. It often uses a dedicated impeller or blades to reduce the size of the leaves into small pieces to be used as mulch.

A collection bag is attached to the machine for convenience in dumping the leaves. Many models are designed to suck those and yard debris as well. Some also come with a leaf-blowing function so you can vacuum easily. It is as important to someone who deals with the seasonal yard work as a gauge wire is to an electrician.

They are operated via an electric outlet, gas, or battery. But they can also be classified by their usage and way of operation. Here are the types you can find on the market.

Types
BlowerWalk-behindElectric
CommercialCordlessGas
Tow-behind  

Leaf blower

A leaf blower, vacuum, and mulcher combine three functions into versatile equipment. This type is most common among handheld machines like Worx and Toro’s, some of the respected names in the industry. It’s great because the leaf blower function collects and gathers everything in one place. Once they are set into large piles, the vacuum feature is activated to suck them in.

Afterward, the mulcher function shreds those leaves and cuts them into tiny pieces. This method is useful in speeding up the task of collecting debris and in decomposing it. It is designed to shred everything into fine pieces to be reused for other purposes.

Commercial

Their purpose can also classify them. Models designed for industrial or professional use adopt high-performing engines that can accomplish heavy-duty clearing. They can be powered through electricity or a battery. The best mulchers can also use gas and get 160 mph or more airspeed. They often come as standalone units known for handling larger volumes. A commercial leaf vacuum cleaner usually retails for $300 and up.

Walk-behind

The main difference of this type is that it allows the user to push the machine from behind. Hence, it is also often called a push behind mulcher. It can run on electricity and a battery, but it also works with gas. This type often acts as a vacuum and mulcher, unlike the handheld variants.

They also function as blowers. But like its counterparts, a walk-behind model is perfect for vacuuming leaves and branches. This type is recommended if you frequently cover wider areas and do not want to put too much strain on your wrist. A walk-behind model isn’t recommended when discarding leaves or small branches from flower beds. It is still better at handling large volumes than handheld units.

Cordless

If you are looking for power and convenience, a cordless vacuum option is a great bet. It is not connected to any cord, which is why you can operate it from anywhere. You can easily cover larger areas without the limits of an extension wire. This type is powered by a battery and does not require gas mixing. It reduces the chance of you being exposed to toxic elements.

However, it comes with downsides. Since it is battery-operated, it will stop functioning once the battery is emptied. On average, its battery can operate from 15 to 40 minutes. The length largely depends on the rechargeable lithium battery’s voltage. It averages 20 to 40 volts. As a rule, the machine will have a longer runtime as the voltage increases. You can keep a second battery and have it charged for easy replacement once the original battery runs out to prevent disruptions.

Electric

Corded electric ones operate more quietly than those running on gas. Since it is powered by electricity, there is no need for you to store any flammable gas when using a corded model. This type will keep functioning as long as it is attached to an outlet. It removes the limitations of a battery-operated variant. You also do not need to spend on battery replacements using this type.

Corded electric models are often lightweight and can be operated using one hand, reducing the chance of fatigue. But since it is connected to a cord, your movement and coverage area may be limited. You may consider using an extension cord to resolve this. The power of an electric model’s engine is rated in amps, going by an average of 8 amps to 14 amps. The higher the amp level, the more powerful the engine.

Gas

Gas options are extra powerful machines that do the job without any fuss. This type can cover a larger area than its counterparts and has a longer operation time. It is best if you are targeting small branches and debris. When looking for a gas-powered model, check out the engine’s size measured in cubic centimeters.

Keep in mind that the engine gets more powerful as the size increases. A two-cycle gas model needs gasoline mixed with engine oil, with the ratio dependent on the manufacturing label. Meanwhile, a four-cycle gas engine runs purely on gasoline.

A gas model has its merits. It has some downsides, too. Unlike its counterparts, this type is much heavier. It weighs an average of 10 to 18 pounds. It also tends to get noisy during operation. You also need to consider gasoline storage since you have to mix with this model. Suppose convenience is a more important factor for you than capacity. In that case, opting for a corded electric one may be a better choice.

Tow-behind

This system can be attached to other tools such as an ATV or a tractor. It’s also great for a lawnmower, whereby you can get some serious power going as well. As the name suggests, a tow-behind option is carried by another powered device. They will often weigh 300 or more pounds.

What to Consider

kids playing in leaves

Just like when searching for the best engine-driven welders or MIG welders, there are different factors to consider. You want to score the right model that suits your needs. You must weigh the machine’s functions and capacity against other important considerations like price and convenience. After all, this machine does not come cheap. Spending your money wisely should be a priority. Here’s your checklist before adding this equipment to your cart.

What to consider
Mulching ratioPriceNoise
CapacityFunctionsConvenience

Functions

It primarily acts as a shredder. Most standalone units are only designed for this sole function. At the same time, their handheld counterparts often offer added features and act not only as a mulcher. It also has a blower and vacuum. Worx and Trivac products are popular for offering products that roll all these three functions into one.

Handheld models are also designed to target hard-to-reach areas under the patio or underneath furniture. Meanwhile, standalone units often do not help much with leaf collection as they do not have a built-in blower. However, standalone models perform better than handheld ones when large volumes of yard debris or leaves are involved.

You should also consider the blades. Many models use a metal shredder that spins rapidly to chop off leaves and cut them into tiny parts. But some variants use plastic but heavy-duty blade to get the job done. Worx’s products often come with the brand’s patented metal impeller along with a plastic shredder. It leaves the user to decide depending on his needs and preferences. In most cases, metal blades still prove more durable than plastic ones.

Mulching Ratio

The mulching ratio determines how much the machine can reduce the leaves or debris from their original size. A ratio of 16:1 means that it can cut the size of 16 bags to one. Ones with a higher ratio indicate that it can shred to even smaller sizes. These usually have a ratio in the range of 8:1 to 18:1. If you need to shred large volumes, it is ideal to look for a machine with a high ratio. Smaller shredders are also broken down more easily, making a high-ratio model perfect if you plan to make compost.

Capacity

Another important factor to consider is capacity. This refers to the air volume measured in cubic feet per minute or CFM. Both corded electric and cordless mulchers range from 175 CFM to 500 CFM. Models with higher capacity are more powerful and are suitable for heavy-duty operations. Maybe you do not require frequent heavy-duty cleaning or only need to handle a few bags. Opt for low-cost models with medium capacity as the high-powered ones tend to consume more battery power.

Price

The price of the model largely depends on how powerful it is. Ones designed for light-duty clearing cost around $75 to $150. Heavy-duty units usually start at around $175 to $300. Additional features such as a wood chipper or extra capacity may jack up the price. Ones with these added functions and those intended for commercial or industrial use can cost around $500 and higher. Maybe the price is a huge factor for you before purchasing one. Consider a unit that strikes a balance between functionality and affordability.

Noise

Like other power tools, these machines produce some noise during operation. However, corded electric and battery-operated models operate more quietly than their gas-powered counterparts. Corded and cordless models emit up to approximately 63 decibels. It’s a level comparable to the loudness of a normal conversation.

Ones running on gas operate more loudly, emitting approximately 85 to 90 decibels. This level has the same loudness as a lawnmower. Before buying one, it is better to check if loud noises are disallowed around your neighborhood. You can also wear earplugs as a safety precaution, especially if your machine is powered by gas. Additionally, you can wear an eye cover to protect your eyes from catching debris.

Convenience

If you put too much weight on convenience when deciding, choosing a corded or cordless model may be great. This variant would not require you to mix any fuel. There is no need for you to think about storing any gas that could further expose you to harsh toxins.

Suppose your needs suit the extra power that a gas-powered model offers. In that case, it may be worth considering these minor inconveniences.

Another thing to consider that affects the ease of use is the presence of a conversion switch. Models that boast 3-in-1 functions should ideally have a conversion switch. It will enable you to change from one function to another in a snap. These added functions require you to attach and detach nozzles or tubes in some cases. This could be a hassle if you have to do the switching regularly.

Make sure also to check out our article on the best gasless MIG welders and this one on the best welding glasses.

Best Leaf Mulchers

Worx WG509

Weighing a little more than 9 pounds, the Worx WG509 features an all-metal system. It can cut up leaves into as small as 1/18th of their size. This device has a ratio of 18:1, which means it can reduce the volume of 18 bags of debris or leaves into one. It is designed with a tube that curls up at the mouth, covering hard-to-reach areas. The Worx WG509 has an airspeed of 75 to 210 mph and runs on 120V at 60 Hz.

You can customize the speed setting depending on your needs. Like these versatile plasma cutters mentioned in this article, this device is lightweight and ergonomic. It can be operated using one hand, thanks to its design that allows it to blow air from the back to the front. This product is priced under $120. Its product measurements are 20x15x9 inches.

Trivac 2

Worx’s Trivac 2 acts as a blower and vacuum. It’s also a mulcher, all in one. Turn the knob attached to the main machine to switch from one function to another. This equipment boasts a two-speed control with an air volume of up to 350 CFM. It lets you accomplish any task, whether sweeping dried leaves or vacuuming large yard debris. The airspeed is up to 210 mph.

Trivac 2 also features a two-stage metal impeller that can reduce the volume of 18 bags of leaves to one. They are contained in an easy-to-clean detachable bag. It is compatible with the LeafPro, a universal collection system. The machine weighs less than 10 pounds and comes with a three-year warranty.

Worx WG512

The Worx WG512 features a patented metal mulcher that cuts the size of 16 bags into one. It has Worx’s signature orange and black design and weighs only 9 pounds. It lets you operate it with only one hand. You can easily switch from blower to vacuum mode by turning the machine’s dial for added convenience.

This machine comes with a wide mouth that lets out a robust stream of air at a speed of 600 CFM. It also features two speeds that enable you to go easy when cleaning up pavements or faster when covering open lawns. Like other Worx models, the WG512 has a detachable bag so that you can empty and clean it out easily. It is perfect for removing things from flower beds and targeting areas that cannot be reached using a standalone model. The Worx WG512 is powered by an electric cord and retails for under $100. It measures 35.5x10x14 inches and runs on 120V at 60 Hz.

Worx 3 in 1

The Worx 3-in-1 WG505 is a versatile device that lets you blow leaves or debris up to 210 mph. It works as a blower and mulcher. It works as a yard vacuum as well. This machine can vacuum at a speed of up to 14 gallons per minute, so you get the job done without straining your wrist. With a maximum airspeed of 210 mph, the Worx 3 in 1 can target even wet debris.

The airspeed is easily adjustable and can be lowered to only 80 mph, allowing you to target small areas or tight corners. The tube design also enables you to clean the underneath furniture and go under the patio and other areas that are difficult to reach. This product can reduce the volume of 16 bags into one using Worx’s signature metal impeller. Its vacuum bag is designed with a quick-release button for easy cleaning and storage.

Toro 51621 UltraPlus

The Toro 51621 UltraPlus is a 3-in-1 machine designed with a strong blower and high-speed vacuum. It also has a powerful shredder. This corded electric option boasts Toro’s patented shreds-all ring. It works in tandem with the powerful metal impeller to reduce the size of mulched leaves and debris to less than half an inch. It can even pick up small debris produced by using a tig welder.

It is designed with an ergonomic oscillating nozzle kit. It creates a larger blowing path when sweeping hardscapes without requiring the user to move his wrist. You can choose the main blower tube mode to mulch dry leaves. Choose the power insert mode to cover heavy and wet ones.

Choose the concentrator mode if you want to target hard-to-reach areas such as crevices and corners. Wrap its cord around the hook and then keep it inside the dual-purpose bottom-zip vacuum bag for storage. This product measures 45x9x14 inches and weighs 8.9 pounds.

Worx WG518

Blowing up leaves and debris at up to 250 mph, the Worx WG518 is a powerful device that promises to get the job done at a flick of a switch. This corded electric option is designed with a two-speed control suitable for heavy-duty and light tasks. It has a metal impeller with a 16:1 ratio, which means it can mulch 16 bags down to only one.

A plastic impeller is also included, though this produces a lower ratio. You can switch from blowing to vacuum mode at a touch of a button. Aside from leaves, this machine can also pick up debris in your yard or workspace. It doesn’t matter if it’s produced by you using a mini wood lathe or a metal lathe. This machine weighs only less than 11 pounds and comes with a shoulder strap for a one-hand operation. It runs on a 120V AC and measures 40×11.7×10 inches.

Want to keep reading? Check out our article on high AMP gauge wires or this article on ThermoKing fault codes.

FAQ

Can you mulch leaves with a lawnmower?

You can easily use a lawnmower to mulch the fallen leaves on the ground around your home.
The mulching process consists of chopping the dead leaves that have fallen from the trees until they reach the size of small pieces.

Small pieces are left on the surface of the grass to act as a natural fertilizer. They stimulate its healthy growth.
This can get rid of the dead leaves that give your yard an unsightly appearance. It can also be a health benefit for your yard.

And this is not the only advantage offered by chopping the leaves with a lawnmower.
Fortunately for you, this process of mulching with a lawnmower is much easier than the alternative of manually raking them.

And if you are curious about the other benefits of mulching them instead of raking them, these are:
– Improving soil health
– It creates an optimal environment for the development of organisms inside the soil.
– It eliminates the need to buy plastic bags for throwing the leaves in the trash.
– It completes the leaf removal process faster.

Do leaf shredders work with wet leaves?

You can use a leaf shredder without any difficulty in chopping wet leaves.
Chopping wet leaves have a higher degree of difficulty than chopping dry ones.

But this does not make this process an impossible task for a leaf shredder.
Also, turning them into the fertilizer can be a very beneficial factor for the grass in your backyard.

An essential tip for chopping wet leaves with a leaf shredder is to make sure that you turn off the device from time to time.
It would help if you did this to be able to constantly check the inside of the shredder to avoid the formation of obstacles due to the aggregation of wet leaves.

After you have finished chopping them with the leaf shredder, now you have one more thing to do.
Spread the fertilizer obtained through the areas of your yard that you think would benefit the most from its action.

Is it worth buying a leaf mulcher?

A leaf mulcher has many features that make it a well-deserved purchase for anyone who wants to take care of his garden.
First of all, you can also use a lawnmower to mulch the dead leaves on the surface of your yard.

But to achieve this, you may need to purchase a special blade for your lawnmower.
This can be an additional expense and hassle.

It is easier, less time-consuming, and more resourceful to purchase a leaf mulcher directly.
But let’s say that buying a special mulch blade for your lawnmower isn’t a problem.

In this situation, you will still have to face a big problem.
Namely, it’s a waste of time.

Composting chopped leaves with a particular blade mower takes a long time.
The composting process will be faster if the leaves are mulched with a leaf mulcher.

This is an excellent advantage if you want to get natural fertilizer for your grass quickly.

Do chipper shredders work on leaves?

Most chipper shredders available on the market are capable of chopping leaves without any problems.
These devices are often used for chopping pieces of wood. This does not mean that you cannot use them without problems with chopping leaves.

Considered machines explicitly designed to perform tasks requiring much power, they can easily chop leaves and wood.
A disadvantage of using these devices is their high price.

But this high price does not come without the superior quality offered by the shredder.
If you think that the price of a chipper shredder does not fit your budget, this is not a problem.

You can always choose a cheaper option, represented by purchasing a leaf shredder specifically built to carry out this process.
Or there is an even simpler option if you own a lawnmower.

You can use this device to chop the dead leaves in your yard.
It would be best to mow them several times to get the best results.

Is there a battery-operated leaf mulcher?

Fortunately for you and your needs, there are a variety of leaf mulchers models on the market that are powered by batteries.
Enthusiasts often prefer this type of leaf mulcher because of their benefits, such as:
– It does not require refueling with hard-to-make fuel mixtures.
– It does not emit toxic fumes.
– It has a high degree of portability.
– Their weight is minimal.
It has a high degree of maneuverability.

A cordless leaf shredder also has some disadvantages that need to be considered when purchasing.

One of the most significant disadvantages is the short operating time.
Usually, the battery that powers a cordless leaf shredder can provide a 15-35 minute operating period.

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