The Ultimate Guide to Buying a Leaf Mulcher

Garden, Tools

Last Updated - November 4, 2022

EDITOR'S FAVORITES

Worx 13 Amp 2 HP Leaf Mulcher thumbnail
  • 11:1 mulch ratio turns leaves into a small heap in seconds
  • Can use both plastic and paper bag use
  • Bladeless mulching technology
Power King Gas-Powered Commercial Chipper and Shredder Kit thumbnail
  • The Chipper kit includes an extended wheelbase & removable tow bar
  • Includes 360-degree rotating spout
  • Large feed chute
  • Reversible blades
Earthwise 13-Amp Corded Leaf Mulcher thumbnail
  • Corded electric mulcher with a powerful 13-amp power
  • A 19-inch funnel opening with a 13-inch blade-less cutting diameter
  • Ideal for dry leaves

MORE PICKS & RECOMMENDATIONS

A leaf mulcher can be a beneficial tool for those looking to minimize waste while bulking up their compost pile. Able to shred a mountain of leaves into a small mound, they're particularly useful for homes with large yards or gardens.

In this gardener's guide to leaf mulchers, we'll answer commonly asked questions, offer product recommendations, and provide helpful tips on choosing the right machine for your yard work needs.

How do you get rid of leaves without raking them?

Hate raking? A leaf blower or multi-purpose leaf collection tool is your best bet. Unlike a leaf blower that simply moves the debris around, a leaf mulcher will collect and shred it into smaller pieces that are then dispensed into a collection bag for easy disposal. To understand how, let's break down what exactly a leaf mulcher is and how it works.

What is a leaf mulcher?

Put simply, a leaf mulcher (sometimes called a leaf shredder) is a stand-alone or handheld machine that shreds leaves and lawn debris into smaller, more manageable pieces. Their metal blades or cutting lines are less powerful than that of a wood chipper. While some more powerful models can handle twigs and small branches, most should be reserved for leaves, garden clippings, and other unwanted greenery.

The primary purpose of a leaf mulcher is to minimize the amount of space the leaves take up. Many expel the mulched leaves directly into a collection bag for easy disposal in your yard waste container or backyard compost bin. Plus, these smaller pieces decompose faster when mixed into compost or sprinkled into garden beds.

Some handheld lead mulchers also act as a vacuum, sucking up leaves to minimize raking beforehand. For maximum versatility, look for a handheld mulcher with a vacuum mode and reusable collection bag. Strap it on, and you'll be ready to tackle shrubs, flower beds, and other hard-to-reach areas that are notoriously difficult to rake.

7 Best Leaf Mulchers, Leaf vacuums, and Leaf Shredders

01
Out Of 7

Worx 13 Amp 2 HP Leaf Mulcher

Best Overall

Worx 13 Amp 2 HP Leaf Mulcher

Source: Home Depot

On the hunt for a reliable and the best leaf mulcher that can help with seasonal yard work? Look no further than the Worx Electric Leaf Mulcher. Its 13 Amp motor mulches up to 53 gallons of leaves per minute with an impressive 11:1 mulch ratio. The corded electric leaf mulcher utilizes Flex-A-Line blade-free technology for safe, reliable use season after season.

Its stand-alone design can be used with both plastic and paper bags. To further minimize your environmental impact, purchase Worx's Collapsible Leaf Bin, which fits perfectly underneath. Take advantage of tool-free assembly and disassembly to save space in your garage or shed in-between uses.

Material

Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene

Weight

20 pounds

mulching ratio

11:1

Dimensions

13.98" h x 22.83" w x 22.83" d

What We Like

  • Easy to use and set up
  • Very easy to clean and change the Flex-a-Line blade
  • Light and easy to move around

What We Don't Like

  • Small sticks can cause faster wear of the cutting strings

02
Out Of 7

Power King Gas-Powered Commercial Chipper and Shredder Kit

Best Heavy-Duty

Power King Gas-Powered Commercial Chipper and Shredder Kit

Source: Home Depot

In need of something heavy-duty? Instead of an electric mulcher, try a multi-function wood chipper like this Gas-Powered Commercial Chipper and Shredder Kit from Power King. It's powered by a torque-driven 277cc Kohler motor that shreds tree branches, leaves, and yard debris into manageable 4-inch pieces.

The towable leaf mulcher includes an extended wheelbase, a removable tow bar, replacement blades, and a safety gear kit. A 360-degree rotating spout ensures shredded leaves are exactly where you want them. Plus, its reversible blades can be removed and flipped for twice the cutting life. The leaf mulcher's power, durability, and versatility make it suitable for large properties, farms, and professional landscapers.

Material

Stainless Steel

Weight 

405 pounds

mulching ratio

10:1

Dimensions

43" h x 24.5" w x 43" d

What We Like

  • A well built durable machine
  • Heavy but easy to move around
  • The machine takes everything thrown at it, even leaves and small twigs

What We Don't Like

  • Expensive price point
  • The instruction manual could be better

03
Out Of 7

Earthwise 13-Amp Corded Leaf Mulcher

Best Electric Leaf Mulcher

Earthwise 13-Amp Corded Leaf Mulcher

Source: Lowes

Though it's easy to assume that electric leaf mulchers are less powerful than their gas-powered counterparts, this 13-Amp Corded Leaf Mulcher from Earthwise will prove you wrong. Its powerful 13-Amp motor is just as rugged as most gas-powered leaf mulchers.

The bladeless design can shred up to 55 gallons per minute with a 16:1 mulching ratio. Four clips allow for speedy bag attachment and removal, while wheels and handles make for easy transport around your property. Three mulching settings accommodate a range of debris. While it easily handles dry leaves, it's not recommended for wet leaves, twigs, or branches.

Material

N/A

Weight 

22 pounds

mulching ratio

16:1

Dimensions

N/A

What We Like

  • More affordable than others
  • Easy to assemble
  • Easy storage

What We Don't Like

  • Can be noisy
  • Blows back some leaves and dust
BLACK+DECKER 3-in-1 Electric Leaf Blower-Vacuum-Mulcher

Source: Amazon

For maximum versatility, opt for a multi-purpose handheld shredder that can blow, vacuum, and mulch leaves at the press of a button. This reliable BLACK+DECKER 3-in-1 Electric Leaf Blower, Vacuum, and Mulcher make seasonal yard work a breeze. Its corded electric design offers an unlimited run time when tackling big jobs around your property.

Powerful air speeds and practical design features make operation even easier. The vacuum setting delivers air speeds of up to 250 mph and airflow of up to 400 cfm to quickly remove leaves with minimal effort. A comfortable backpack-style fit allows for hands-free use, while a flexi-tube increases maneuverability when vacuuming up hard-to-reach leaves and debris. Complete your tool set with the cleaner attachment and leaf collection system.

Material

Blend

Weight 

11.1 pounds

Mulching Ratio

N/A

Dimensions

16" l x 11.6" w x 21.3" h

What We Like

  • Affordable price point
  • Very powerful for its size
  • Fairly lightweight
  • Easy to use

What We Don't Like

  • It can be a little heavy for some
  • Will need a very long extension cord

05
Out Of 7

YARDMAX Gas Kohler 2000 2-in-1 Chipper-Shredder

Best for Wet Leaves

YARDMAX Gas Kohler 2000 2-in-1 Chipper-Shredder

Source: Home Depot

Tired of wet leaves and small twigs clogging your weak leaf mulcher? Upgrade to this Gas Kohler 2000 2-in-1 Chipper-Shredder from YARDMAX. Its powerful 199 CC 4-cycle engine offers reliable performance, no matter what you're shredding: leaves, grass clippings, twigs, and branches up to 3 inches in diameter. There's no need to prep or prune beforehand.

The powerful chipper's sturdy steel construction ensures years of dependable use. The 6.5 HP Briggs & Stratton engine offers 9.50 pounds of torque, and its two sharp steel blades have a 10-to-1 reduction ratio. A spacious, self-feeding chute accommodates longer branches, while pneumatic wheels easily traverse uneven terrain. The versatile gas-powered chipper comes with a single two-bushel bag to get you started.

Material

Steel

Weight 

119 pounds

Mulching Ratio

10:1

Dimensions

34.8" h x 25.1" w x 26.3" d

What We Like

  • This gas leaf mulcher can mulch branches and leaves nicely
  • Easy to assemble
  • Extremely easy to start

What We Don't Like

  • A little pricey
  • Can be loud

06
Out Of 7

Sun Joe 3-in-1 Electric Leaf Blower/ Vacuum/ Mulcher

Best on a Budget

Sun Joe 3-in-1 Electric Leaf Blower Vacuum Mulcher

Source: Amazon

Get the most bang for your buck with this 3-in-1 Electric Leaf Blower/ Vacuum/ Mulcher from Sun Joe. The compact, multi-purpose gadget combines the best capabilities of three power tools: a leaf vacuum, mulcher, and blower. It'll save space in your garage or tool shed and make light work of loads of fallen leaves.

An interchangeable tube design means you can go from blowing to vacuuming and mulching in seconds. Its powerful 14-Amp motor generates air speeds up to 250 mph, helping the impact-resistant aluminum alloy impeller shred leaves up to 1/16th their original size. Adjustable wheels and a heavy-duty, 18.5-gallon bag help speed up outdoor chores to keep your property looking its best year-round.

Material

Aluminum

Weight 

8.6 pounds

Mulching Ratio

16:1

Dimensions

32.68" l x 12.79" w x 9.1" h

What We Like

  • Affordable price point
  • Small and compact size
  • Fairly light and easy to carry
  • Vacuum leaves and the variable speed allow you to pick up leaves

What We Don't Like

  • May not pick up larger and heavier leaves

07
Out Of 7

Troy-Bilt Gas Chipper Shredder Vacuum

Best Gas-Powered Leaf Mulcher

Troy-Bilt Gas Chipper Shredder Vacuum

Source: Home Depot

Keep your yard looking its best all season long with this versatile Gas Chipper Shredder Vacuum from Troy-Bilt. Its multi-function design allows you to vacuum, chip, and shred leaves and debris, all with one convenient machine.

Equipped with a reusable, felt-lined collection bag, a large, upright steel hopper, and self-sharpening chromium steel chipper blades, the American-made leaf mulcher is up for any task. Its powerful 159CC OHV Troy-Bilt Engine can chip up to 1.5-inch branches, leaves, and debris with an 8:1 reduction ratio. The 7-foot suction hose helps reach behind bushes, under landscaping, and in tight corners, the 24-inch-wide vacuum head can't reach.

Material

Metal, Chromium steel

Weight 

116 pounds

Mulching Ratio

8:1

Dimensions

26" h x 26.5" w x 39" d

What We Like

  • A very versatile machine
  • Does an exquisite job sucking leaves
  • Works for leaves and small twigs

What We Don't Like

  • Expensive price point
  • It can be a little difficult to assemble

Is a leaf shredder worth it?

While a leaf shredder or mulcher isn't a must-have for everyone, it can be incredibly helpful for lawn maintenance and home gardening— especially if you want to minimize your environmental footprint by repurposing your leaves instead of disposing of them. The leaf mulch produced can be added to your compost bin or mixed into your flower beds.

What should I look for in a leaf mulcher?

In the market for a new leaf shredder or a multi-purpose leaf vacuum and mulcher? Here are a few key product features to pay attention to as you shop:

  • Power Source— While gas-powered models are often more powerful, corded electric tools are easier to use and maintain.

  • Mulching Ratio— A device's mulching ratio determines how effectively it reduces the volume of leaves. For example, a mulcher with a 10:1 ratio would reduce ten bags of raked leaves into one bag of shredded leaves.

  • Stand-Alone vs. Handheld— While stand-alone designs are great for powering through big piles, backpack-style handheld shredders are great for getting into hard-to-rake spots around your property.

Does a leaf mulcher work with wet leaves?

It's best to avoid putting wet leaves through your shredder. While most high-powered mulchers and wood chippers can tackle wet leaves without a problem, your average electric leaf shredder may get clogged. If you live somewhere with wet conditions, be sure to invest in something with a powerful motor that's up for the task.

Are leaf mulchers and wood chippers the same thing?

Though leaf mulchers and wood chippers serve similar purposes, there are important nuances between the two. Think of a leaf mulcher as a less powerful version of a wood chipper. Its motor is better suited for leaves, lawn clippings, and greenery than twigs and branches.


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About the author

Bella Zinti

Bella has a Bachelors degree in interior design, is a master gardener with extensive experience building homes from scratch. She designs nourishing outdoor & indoor spaces guided by the practice of Feng Shui, as well as helping clients create year-round sustainable organic gardens.

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