Three Things to Look for When Buying a Leaf Mulcher

Yard clean-ups can go much faster with the help of a leaf mulcher. Here are three things to consider before you make a purchase.

Man photographing fall leaves
Fall foliage sure is beautiful, at least until you have to clean up the mess. A mulcher makes it easier.Davide Ragusa/Unsplash

Mulching in plants and flower beds keeps weeds down while holding moisture in so you don’t need to water as much. Even when you buy it in bulk, mulch can be expensive. That’s why owning a leaf mulcher can make a lot of sense, especially for those who end up with a lot of fallen leaves. With a mulcher, you don’t need to send leaves and grass clippings to the landfill. Instead, you can grind them into ready-to-use mulch that will put vital nutrients back into your soil and you’ll save on watering, too.

Three Types To Choose From

Sun Joe Electric Silent Wood Chipper/Shredder
This powerful chipper/shredder will not only grind up leaves, but it will also mulch branches up to 1.73 inches thick.Sun Joe

Leaf mulchers come in three varieties.

Electric mulchers plug into a power source. They're relatively quiet and you'll never have to buy gas for them, but you'll be limited by the length of your extension cord as to how far into the yard you may to be able to use it.

Combination models actually double as leaf blowers, but by flipping a switch you can vacuum up leaves and they’ll be ground into mulch that flows into an attachable bag. The nice part about these is that they are multi-functional and lightweight (many can be controlled with one hand).

Gas-powered models are heavier, so they’re not as portable. They’re also generally noisier and they produce fumes. However, they are far more powerful. Many of the smaller gas mulchers will also handle small branches up to 1 ½ inches or so, which is a great help when you’re trying to get the fall clean-up done in the yard.

Plastic Or Metal Blades

Worx Electric Blower/Mulcher/Vacuum
This 13-amp motor efficiently mulches up to 53 gallons of leaves per minute. Just place your collection bag underneath and the machine will do the rest.Worx

The "impeller" is the part of the leaf mulcher that actually grinds the leaves. Models come with either plastic blades or metal blades. Plastic blades will work and models containing them are generally less expensive. Metal blades tend to be more durable and are particularly important to look for if the mulcher you're considering is also advertised to be able to grind up small branches.

Space, Weight and Access

WORX Foldable Bladeless Electric Leaf Mulcher
This 13-amp motor efficiently mulches up to 53 gallons of leaves per minute. Just place your collection bag underneath and the machine will do the rest.Worx

Think about where you want to store your leaf mulcher when it's not in use. Most models are relatively compact, but some of the gas models will need more space. Weight is another consideration. Many of the combination models are light enough to operate with one hand while gas-powered models will definitely be heavier. Most have wheels for easy hauling around the yard, but it's one more factor that you should weigh carefully. While dry leaves are usually easy to mulch, green or wet leaves will inevitably lead to mulchers getting clogged. Always unplug or power down your mulcher before trying to clear clogs, but having a mulcher that provides easy access to the impeller where leaves are ground up will save time and hassle.