Simultaneously maintaining the beauty of your lawn and giving it the needed nutrients can be guesswork for some. Nonetheless, with the right leaf mulcher, this is possible.
What Are Leaf Mulchers?
Leaf mulchers are equipment that acts like a mower that cuts the material. However, unlike the mower, leaf mulchers have a different set of blades that makes it possible for them to cut leaves differently.
Leaf mulchers come in two forms: handheld and standalone types. The first one works by integrating the mulching capability into a leaf vacuum. With this, you can simultaneously collect and mulch leaves in an instant which can reduce your work time. However, handheld leaf mulchers are incapable of handling a huge amount of leaves due to the size of the tube’s opening that sucks and directs leaves into the blade.
On the other hand, standalone leaf mulcher units work like paper shredders. Here, you need to first collect the leaves whether using a rake or a leaf blower. Nonetheless, the mulching process itself once you already have a pile of leaves would be a breeze. Due to the size of the opening of standalone units, you can drop a handful of leaves and it will be able to handle it with ease. You can also attach a big plastic at the end of the unit for easy gathering of mulch.
What Can Leaf Mulchers Do?
Leaf mulchers can reduce the size of leaves excessively that after the process, leaves can be used as fine mulch on the lawn surface. Not only will mulchers make the appearance of your lawn more favorable by removing the sight of big leaves scattered everywhere, but they will also improve the health of the lawn itself. Mulch can serve as a good source of nutrients for your lawn and it will make the decomposition of the leaves much faster. Nonetheless, there are more benefits mulch can do to your lawn including reduction of evaporation from the soil surface, moderation of soil temperatures, and prevention of weed growth, soil erosion, and soil compaction.
Mulch can be used to promote nutrient levels in flower beds, shrubs, trees, and vegetable gardens. This will also help you assure the survival of newly planted plants in the garden. With layers ranging from 2 to 6 inches or more, the plants and the soil will be able to get the sufficient nutrients they need.
It also allows you to maximize the space of the bags you use to collect mulch. Due to the finer sizes of leaves produced by mulchers, a single bag can hold at least the amount of unmulched leaves contained in 10 bags, hence disposal will be easier. There are even units that would allow a 30:1 particle size reduction ratio which is truly impressive.
Do I Need a Leaf Mulcher?
The need for a leaf mulcher will depend on the number of leaves that fall on your lawn and the number of trees and plants you have. If there is an excessive amount of leaves being experience during the fall season that disposing of them results in problems, a leaf mulcher will be a good option.
For instance, if it takes you at least 5 or more bags of leaves that need disposal almost every week, purchasing a leaf mulcher will benefit you. Nonetheless, there are lawn mower units that already integrate mulching features. If you have a lawnmower model like that, it is best to stick with it.
Best Leaf Mulchers on the Market
Getting a leaf mulcher unit should depend on your needs and preferences. This includes the types and capacity of the mulcher.
Normally, a handheld unit (though it saves you from the task of collecting leaves with a rake or leaf blower) takes a longer time to process leaves. This is due to the time it takes for such a model to collect leaves in small amounts.
Standalone units, on the other hand, can handle leaves in bigger amounts resulting in a faster mulching process. However, keep in mind that this doesn’t include the process of collecting leaves in piles.
There are also other considerations to have when selecting the model you need. This includes the particle size reduction ratio in which it is determined how many leaves you can pack in a single bag.
The ability of the mulcher to process wet leaves is also a must. However, this can’t be determined until you personally experience and see the unit itself working. With this, we took the initiative of testing the 5 best leaf mulchers on the market. Underscoring their best features and capabilities, we hope to give you quality insights before purchasing one. Here they are:
Best Leaf Mulchers Comparison & Rating
1. WORX WG430 Leaf Mulcher
The WORX WG430 is one of the most convenient leaf mulcher models on the market. Sporting a standalone design, this 20-pound mulcher can be assembled easily anywhere on your lawn. Despite this, the unit itself is heavy enough to promote balance and be stable while mulching leaves. The collection of the mulch is also pretty easy. The bottom of the unit allows easy attachment of bags.
Also, the WORX WG430 boasts of an innovative Flex-a-Line mulching system wherein instead of blades, the mulcher is using a heavy-duty string trimmer line. It has a 13” cutting diameter which boosts the cutting speed and processing of leaves. The opening of the mulcher is also pretty wide so whether you put the leaves using your hands or a shovel, there won’t be a problem.
2. CRAFTSMAN CMEBL7000 Leaf Vacuum and Mulcher
260 MPH/450 CFM
In handheld mulchers, you either get a unit with low airflow and high airspeed rating or a unit with high airflow and a low airspeed rating. Nonetheless, this CRAFTSMAN CMEBL7000 model gives you the right balance between them.
Boasting 450 CFM and a maximum airspeed of 260 MPH, you can efficiently work on a considerable wide area with ease. Not only it can pick up heavy leaves in a single pass, but the coverage of its suction is quite great. As for the dry leaves, it picks up with pure ease and consistency.
3. WORX WG512 Leaf Vacuum and Mulcher
70 MPH/600 CFM
When it comes to convenience and versatility, the WORX WG512 is the champ on the list. Not only this model would offer you a blower, but it also provides a vacuum with mulching ability. With a turn of a dial, the function changes rapidly and you have yourself a multi-functional tool. But not just that: it also provides a 2-speed option to allow you to adjust it according to your task. We really find it helpful for its blower function where lower airspeed is needed in tight spaces to prevent leaves from flying high up in the air. For open areas, its max 70 MPH speed setting will give you the best performance.
The mulcher is designed with users in mind. It uses an electric 12-amp motor that is just one step behind standalone units like WORX WG430 and Sun Joe SDJ616. With this, it can work for hours like a horse. Further, it only weighs 9 pounds and the controls are very intuitive and can be easily reached. Detaching the bag is also effortless, so you can be sure that you can mulch leaves bags after bags.
Furthermore, we really love that WORX addressed the main concern about handheld units: fast and efficient mulching of leaves. Compared to its sibling, the WORX WG505, this WORX WG512 is included on our list due to its higher airflow capacity at 600 CFM. With this, it can pick up leaves faster and in a more powerful manner in just a single pass. Moreover, to ensure that the mulching and bagging process of the leaves is uninterrupted, the unit is fashioned with a metal impeller and shredder blade. The mulching process is fast and continuous and utilizes 2 stages of chopping which give you a 16:1 mulch ratio. And while it can mulch wet leaves, as per our experience, we really discourage using it for such a situation as removing the clogs is tedious. Nonetheless, we were really amazed how the motor didn’t burn out despite the instances it clogged. Still, a great deal and an efficient tool worth recommending!
4. Sun Joe SDJ616 Leaf Mulcher
Sun Joe SDJ616 is a standalone model with a 13-amp motor delivering 8,000 RPM. Compared to other models with a single cutting size setting, it offers adjustable settings on its control dial for wet or dry yard waste. With this, you have the option to mulch leaves in coarse, medium, and fine sizes.
Also, the unit utilizes a bladeless mulching system through the aid of string lines. It has a 12-inch cutting diameter that lets 55 gallons of leaves be mulched each minute. The 19-inch hopper is also relatively wide which allows you to put gallons after gallons of leaves without a fuss.
The mulching ratio of Sun Joe SDJ616 comes at 16:1 despite having a lower RPM rating and relatively shorter cutting diameter compared to WORX WG430. The explanation behind this must be the heavy-duty gauge shredding line being used by the unit which allows heavy-duty shredding of leaves.
Moreover, the overall performance of Sun Joe SDJ616 is something that will definitely amaze you as it can also process wet leaves with ease. Just turn the dial according to your needs and the motor and the RPM will be adjusted to complement the leaves and materials being mulched. Nonetheless, expect that using it for wet leaves would cause the unit to clog up which is normal. But with a few poking of a stick while the motor is not working, you have a simple solution to this problem. As for the dry leaves, the shredding process is smooth and fast. As soon as put another gallon of leaves, the hopper is already empty and ready for another shredding.
When tested to dry oak leaves, it managed to cut leaves with twigs up to about a quarter of an inch in diameter. The movement of the strings stayed the same and with pure vigor and consistency. However, remember that the more twigs you drop into the hopper, the earlier you would need to change the shredding lines. In our case, we had to change the strings at least 5 times to fill up 16 bags of mulch. Thankfully, changing the lines is so easy.
5. LawnMaster BV1210E 1201 Electric Leaf Vacuum and Mulcher
240 MPH/380 CFM
LawnMaster BV1210E 1201 is a good option for smaller lawns with tighter spaces. It produces 310 and 380 CFM that can cover a considerable area just fine. Though it is at least half lower than the CFM rating of the WORX WG512 resulting in a smaller coverage of an area, its airspeed is tripled to compensate for its power to pick up heavy and wet leaves. Its airspeed can be adjusted to 180 and 240 MPH which is ideal for stubborn leaves that stick to the ground during rainy seasons.
It also weighs just the same as WORX WG512 at 9 pounds and also utilizes an electric 12-amp motor. It boasts of a 2-stage metal impeller that assures a smooth, unceasing intake of leaves that directly go to the 14-gallon heavy-duty dust collection bag. The unit picks up dry and dry leaves with ease and can offer a 16:1 mulching ratio.
Best Leaf Mulchers - Buyer's Guide
The mulching ratio of a mulcher refers to the number of unprocessed bags of leaves you can put in a single bag once you performed the mulching process. The higher the mulching ratio, the better.
Moreover, check for the features that will support the mulching capabilities of the unit like the system and whether it is using blades or strings. It will also best to have a unit that lets you change the mulching ratio or the sizes of mulch. A model like Sun Joe SDJ616 offers it.
If the mulcher is a handheld-type with a vacuum/blower function, always consider how much airflow and airspeed it can offer. Ideally, the higher the CFM rate, the better as it means it can cover a larger area when you vacuum leaves. One example that offers a high airflow rate at 600 CFM is the WORX WG512.
Nonetheless, airspeed is also essential as it will determine how the vacuum will perform in picking up heavy materials like big leaves. The CRAFTSMAN CMEBL7000 is the best choice for this.
Unfortunately, most handheld units come whether with high airflow and low airspeed or vice versa. With this, it will be best if the unit can offer both elements at higher rates just like CRAFTSMAN CMEBL7000.
Always determine the type you really need. Standalone types allow a faster mulching process as you can mulch gallons of leaves every minute. However, given its nature, you have to first collect the leaves into file whether through the use of a leaf blower or a rake.
On the other side of the coin, handheld units will save you time collecting the leaves as you can directly vacuum them. However, they are incapable of processing a great number of leaves which translates to slower mulching.
Check for the helpful features of the mulcher that will make your work easier; be it speed setting, mulching size options, size of bags, blade, strings, and others. This should help you enjoy the value of the mulcher you are going to pay for. Nonetheless, always stick with the model that just fits your needs. For instance, it is good to have a mulcher that has an incredible mulching speed and capacity like the WORX WG430 but it is not for everyone. If you just have a small lawn or garden, a handheld unit would benefit you more.
Best Leaf Mulchers - FAQs
This depends on your needs and preference. If don't want to rake leaves and just have a small lawn to take care of, a handheld unit is great. However, if you have multiple trees in the yard, a standalone unit would be better as it would allow faster mulching process.
Yes, it is. However try not to continuously mulch wet leaves as they generate more friction in the working sections of the machine. This makes the mulcher engine work harder and can cause degradation in its performance.
When picking a mulcher, be sure to refer to the mulching ratio. The mulching ratio will range from 11:1 and 30:1 depending on the brand and model.
If you have extra mulch, you can use it to boost the soil quality of your yard. Mulch contains essential nutrients that can benefit trees and plants. Most of all, it can deter the growth of weed.