The Best Leaf Mulchers Tested in 2023

Instead of stuffing heaps of fallen foliage into bags, check out these specialty lawn tools that can shred a large leaf pile into a small mound of useful mulch.

Best Overall

The Best Leaf Mulcher Option: Worx WG430 13-Amp Electric Leaf Mulcher

Worx WG430 13-Amp Electric Leaf Mulcher

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Runner-Up

The Best Leaf Mulcher Option: Ryobi 40V Vac Attack Leaf Vacuum/Mulcher Kit

Ryobi 40V Vac Attack Leaf Vacuum/Mulcher Kit

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Best Bang for the Buck

The Best Leaf Mulcher Option: Sun Joe 14-Amp 4-in-1 Electric Leaf Blower

Sun Joe 14-Amp 4-in-1 Electric Leaf Blower

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Few sights are as lovely as the red and gold hues of falling leaves, but having to rake and bag them—often multiple times in a season—can quickly make leaves lose their appeal. It only takes one good soaking rain for dried leaves to become a soggy mess, increasing the risk of lawn disease. Shredding leaves in a leaf mulcher significantly reduces their bulk and, better still, creates organic mulch for use around perennial plants. We tested some of the best leaf mulchers to make yard cleanup easier, whether recycling the leaves at home or bagging them up to place at the curb.

Finding the best leaf mulcher depends on the amount of leaf accumulation, yard size, and leaf collection preferences. Our test group included models with a variety of strengths and purposes. Check out our reviews based on this hands-on testing, and then read on to learn what to look for when shopping for a leaf mulcher.

  1. BEST OVERALL: Worx WG430 13-Amp Electric Leaf Mulcher 
  2. RUNNER-UP: Ryobi 40V Vac Attack Leaf Vacuum/Mulcher Kit
  3. BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Sun Joe 14-Amp 4-in-1 Electric Leaf Blower 
  4. UPGRADE PICK: Troy-Bilt CSV060B Chipper/Shredder/Vacuum
  5. BEST CORDLESS: Greenworks 40V 340 CFM Cordless Battery Leaf Blower
  6. BEST GAS: Husqvarna 125BVx Gas Leaf Blower
  7. BEST ELECTRIC: Black+Decker 12-Amp Leaf Blower/Vacuum/Mulcher
  8. BEST WALK-BEHIND: Billy Goat KV601SP Lawn and Litter Vacuum
  9. BEST 3-IN-1 COMBO: Toro Ultra Leaf Blower/Vacuum/Mulcher
  10. ALSO CONSIDER: Flowtron LE900 Leaf-Eater Mulcher/Shredder
A person using the best leaf mulcher option to clear some leaves near a porch and downspout
Photo: Mark Wolfe for Bob Vila

How We Tested

We spent 5 days in a half-acre backyard grinding up fallen leaves with 11 different leaf mulchers. Each mulcher had to run the gamut of large and small as well as dry and wet leaves, along with whatever small twigs, pine cones, and acorns found their way into the mix. Note: While our testing included the Sun Joe CJ601E Electric Wood Chipper, we found that its narrow hopper and flywheel chopper are designed for grinding up sticks, not for shredding leaves.

The first testing day was under dry conditions, with slightly moist leaves that we had recently blown into a pile. For the handheld vacuum/mulcher models, we held the suction tube at or slightly above the level of the leaves, as they should be used according to each manufacturer’s instructions. We simply turned on and fed the stand-alone models by the armload.

On the second day, we attempted to put the vacuum/mulcher models through more stressful conditions, feeding them with wet, matted leaves and large, leathery magnolia leaves. During this test, we also pushed the suction tubes farther into the leaf piles to see if they would become clogged or simply stop. To stress the stand-alone models, we used large baskets to “force-feed” extra-large quantities.

Ultimately, all of the models that made our list passed both tests. For the average testing, each mulcher shredded without hesitation, filling its bag. During the stressful testing, several clogs occurred, but none were catastrophic, nor did they take more than a little thump on the side of the suction housing to clear the clog. In all, each leaf mulcher in this group worked as expected or even better than expected.

Our Top Picks

We put several leaf mulchers to the test in an average backyard to determine real-life performance. The following leaf mulchers proved to be dependable, reliable, and effective at shredding dry leaves. Here’s how some of the best leaf mulchers on the market fared when we put them through their paces.

Best Overall

Worx WG430 13-Amp Electric Leaf Mulcher

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This electric leaf mulcher from Worx is designed with the sole purpose of shredding leaves, which it does quickly and efficiently. The upright model operates via a heavy-duty 12- to 14-gauge extension cord, and its rugged 13-amp motor provides an 11:1 mulch reduction ratio.

The cylindrical, molded plastic unit sits atop strong steel legs (minor assembly required). Rather than metal or plastic blades, this leaf mulcher uses the same type of plastic line found in string trimmers. It features a large intake hopper and shreds up to 53 gallons of leaves per minute.

The Worx WG430 shreds much faster than any blower/vacuum-type leaf mulcher we tested. We dropped leaves into the hopper by the armload (or basket full), and they were gone before we could pick up the next load, allowing us to fill a 30-gallon trash bag with shredded leaves in less than 5 minutes. The trimmer lines shredded five bags of leaves and other fine yard debris before we needed to replace them, a task that took under 2 minutes. For users with a lot of leaves to shred, this mulcher does the job quickly and efficiently, even bagging the material for disposal.

Read our full review: Worx WG430 13-Amp Electric Leaf Mulcher

Product Specs

  • Type: Stand-alone
  • Power source: 13-amp plug-in electric
  • Mulching ratio: 11:1

Pros

  • Easy setup and takedown
  • Shreds directly into a disposable leaf bag
  • Shreds much faster than vacuum types

Cons

  • Single-task tool
  • In storage most of the year
  • Leaves must be lifted to feed the hopper

Get the Worx leaf mulcher at Amazon, Lowe’s, or The Home Depot.

Runner-Up

Ryobi 40V Vac Attack Leaf Vacuum/Mulcher Kit

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A handheld cordless leaf mulcher offers the freedom of mobility and easy storage. The Ryobi 40-volt (V) Vac Attack leaf vacuum/mulcher uses a durable steel impeller to shred leaves and debris to 1/16 of their original size and produces enough vacuum power to fill eight 30-gallon bags in 12 minutes. It conveniently shares the same 40V cordless power platform with more than 80 other Ryobi tools and comes with a 5-amp-hour (Ah) battery and charger.

This leaf vacuum/mulcher performed very well with both freshly fallen dry leaves (on the low-speed setting) and old, moist, and matted leaves and debris (on the high-speed setting). The heavy-duty vacuum bag held more debris than most of the other handheld units we tested, which was ideal for bigger piles. It was easy to unload directly into lawn and leaf bags. However, we also noted that this tool worked best where the leaves were already piled up, since even with adjustable wheels on the suction tube, the large bag made it more difficult to maneuver.

Being a “single tasker” might be a con for some shoppers. Unlike other cordless leaf vacuums, the Ryobi vacuum/mulcher does not convert to a leaf blower. Those who are most interested in space savings might instead prefer a three-in-one option. In our tests, we alternated between blower and vacuum frequently, and it would have been more of a hassle to switch back and forth. We preferred to keep a dedicated leaf blower on hand at all times.

Product Specs 

  • Type: Handheld
  • Power source: 40V 5Ah battery
  • Mulching ratio: 16:1

Pros

  • Cordless leaf vacuum mulcher kit includes a 5Ah battery and charger
  • 2-in-1 vacuum and mulcher with tough metal impeller
  • 12-minute runtime per charge on the high setting, enough to fill eight 30-gallon bags
  • Large debris bag with a capacity equivalent to paper lawn and leaf disposal bags

Cons

  • Does not include a shoulder strap to accommodate the weight of the large bag
  • Vacuum and mulcher only; does not convert into a leaf blower

Get the Ryobi leaf mulcher at The Home Depot or Amazon (tool only).

Best Bang for the Buck

Sun Joe 14-Amp 4-in-1 Electric Leaf Blower

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There’s no reason to spend a fortune on an effective leaf mulcher. The nicely priced Sun Joe four-in-one electric mulcher features a powerful 14-amp motor that moves air at an impressive 440 cubic feet per minute (CFM) and reduces leaf waste by a 16:1 reduction ratio. Not only does it serve as a blower, a vacuum, and a leaf mulcher, but this corded machine also includes an extendable U-nozzle gutter-cleaning kit to vacuum leaves out of house gutters without climbing a tall ladder.

The 8.6-pound unit uses aluminum-alloy impeller blades and boasts several unique design elements. Though a handheld model, it includes an interchangeable vacuum tube with attached wheels so it can be rolled along the ground rather than carried, if desired. Plus, the collection bag clips to the suction tube for added support. These features reduce some strain for average-size workers, but users taller than 6 feet may have difficulty adjusting the shoulder strap to see any benefit.

While the Sun Joe mulcher supplied ample power to work quickly, even with large or wet leaves, it was much louder than the other three-in-one tools we tested.

Product Specs

  • Type: Handheld
  • Power source: 14-amp plug-in electric
  • Mulching ratio: 16:1

Pros

  • 4-in-1 tool for vacuuming and mulching leaves, blowing leaves and debris, and cleaning gutters
  • 14-amp corded motor delivers powerful air movement up to 440 CFM, 250 miles per hour (mph)
  • 15-foot rain gutter attachment allows for gutter cleaning without climbing a ladder
  • Durable metal impeller effectively grinds leaves, twigs, and pine cones

Cons

  • Operating noise (at 96 decibels) is louder than most competitors
  • Debris must be transferred to a different bag for disposal
  • Many parts to keep organized

Get the Sun Joe leaf mulcher at Amazon.

Upgrade Pick

Troy-Bilt CSV060B Chipper/Shredder/Vacuum

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Why settle for a single-purpose leaf mulcher when one machine can tackle all yard waste? This Troy-Bilt 163-cubic-centimeter (cc) gas-powered walk-behind vacuum/wood chipper/shredder is a tough multitasker built to keep yards tidy year-round. It sucks up leaves, twigs, acorns, and other small debris with a 24-inch-wide vacuum nozzle and comes equipped with a 7-foot vacuum hose that reaches into tight corners and beneath shrubs. On pruning days or for after-storm cleanup, the built-in 1.5-inch chipper chute quickly grinds up larger branches, too. A hardened steel impeller grinds the material, which is then deposited into a heavy-duty 2-bushel bag for quick disposal.

We assembled the unit in about 15 minutes, including installation of the handle, vacuum hose, and bagger. This machine operates similarly to a push lawn mower. The deck height adjusts with click levers over each wheel. The 11-inch rear wheels allow for easy maneuvering over rough ground. The Briggs & Stratton ReadyStart engine features a recoil starting system that doesn’t require choking. Just start it and push across lawns, mulched landscape beds, or pavement to pick up the mess.

During testing of the Troy-Bilt chipper shredder vacuum, we noted its powerful suction that easily picked up dry or damp leaves, pine cones, and twigs. It gobbled everything off the grass that could fit beneath the vacuum nozzle, and by raising the deck height, we were able to remove debris while leaving the mulch intact. The hose gave it a good amount of extended reach without becoming cumbersome when not in use. The chipper chute performed well with both greenwood and dried hardwood branches.

The bag configuration allowed us to simply drop a rear flap to unload. While this worked easily enough for composting or spreading the mulch, we would have had to pick it up with a shovel if we needed to bag the material for curbside disposal. Overall, this sturdy tool was easy to operate and ideal for users who want a manicured lawn, especially if they want to recycle yard waste for compost or mulch.

Product Specs 

  • Type: Walk-behind
  • Power source: 163cc gasoline engine
  • Mulching ratio: 8:1

Pros

  • 24-inch vacuum nozzle picks up leaves, twigs, pine cones, and other yard debris
  • 7-foot vacuum hose reaches tight corners and beneath shrubs
  • Chipper chute handles larger branches up to 1.5 inches in diameter
  • 2-bushel bag collects shredded debris for disposal or reuse in the landscape

Cons

  • Larger machine requires more storage space than other chipper shredders

Get the Troy-Bilt leaf mulcher at The Home Depot or MTD Parts.

Best Cordless

Greenworks 40V 340 CFM Cordless Battery Leaf Blower

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Put the power of lithium-ion energy to work with the Greenworks cordless leaf mulcher. This battery-operated mulcher includes a high-performance G-MAX 40V lithium-ion battery that produces up to 340 CFM of blowing power and runs up to 21 minutes on the highest mode. It offers six speed adjustments and both a narrow blowing tube and a wider-angle vacuum tube for versatile yard cleanup. The mulcher weighs 9.92 pounds, features a 10:1 reduction ratio and aluminum-alloy impeller blades, and includes a reusable mulch collection bag.

We wanted to see if this cordless tool had adequate power to collect and shred leaves without changing batteries or running out of charge. After using it in blower mode to collect a pile of leaves, we switched to vacuum mode and proceeded to fill the collection twice, plus another partial bag. Altogether, it worked for more than 20 minutes on the highest power setting.

Product Specs

  • Type: Handheld
  • Power source: 40V lithium-ion rechargeable battery
  • Mulching ratio: 10:1

Pros

  • Cordless leaf blower/vacuum/mulcher offers more freedom than corded electric models
  • 20 minutes of runtime per charge—nearly twice the runtime of cordless competitors
  • Battery is compatible with all Greenworks 40V yard care tools
  • Bag with shoulder strap takes the strain out of vacuum operation

Cons

  • Somewhat underpowered for moving the heaviest debris
  • Battery makes the machine heavier than corded types

Get the Greenworks leaf mulcher at Amazon, Best Buy (80-volt model), Walmart, or Greenworks

Best Gas

Husqvarna 125BVx Gas Leaf Blower

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Shoppers with bigger lots and more leaves to deal with may find a gas-powered leaf mulcher most convenient. The compact handheld Husqvarna 125BVx saves storage space while eliminating the hassle of charging batteries and running extension cords. It is powered by a 28cc 2-cycle engine that generates airflow of 425 CFM at speeds up to 170 mph. In vacuum/mulcher mode, it mulches leaves and other small yard waste at a 16:1 ratio. We also selected this model for our Best Leaf Vacuums guide.

Several details on this machine make it a superior choice. The easy-crank engine features a low resistance recoil starter, in addition to an auto return stop switch to eliminate flooding at startup. In our tests, it started on the first or second pull every time. Then, the operator can use the variable trigger for immediate responsiveness or set the cruise control lever for consistent blow force to eliminate hand fatigue. Other comfort features include an overall lightweight build (just over 9.5 pounds), an anti-vibration handle, and an ergonomic design with the blow tube in line with the handle for optimal performance. It also includes a shoulder strap to reduce user fatigue.

We noted the vacuum’s powerful suction and resistance to clogging. It filled the bag noticeably faster than the battery and electric-powered models, but we did not record the times. Also, the metal mulching impeller worked aggressively on everything small enough to enter the tube, including hard items like sticks and acorns. Although we didn’t love the curved vacuum tube design at first (the other handheld blower/vacuums had only a short, straight pipe coming off the blower into the bag), it functioned well once we determined the best way to position it.

Product Specs 

  • Type: Handheld
  • Power source: 28cc 2-cycle gas engine
  • Mulching ratio: 16:1

Pros

  • Gas engine eliminates recharge time and offers stronger airflow than cordless models
  • Ergonomic design, anti-vibration handle, and cruise control reduce operator fatigue
  • Grinds 1.3 cubic yards of yard waste small enough to fit inside the 17-gallon vacuum bag
  • Easy to start; low resistance recoil with the engine starting on the first or second pull every time

Cons

  • Reconfiguring from blower to vacuum is a somewhat cumbersome process

Get the Husqvarna leaf mulcher at Amazon, Lowe’s, or Acme Tools

Best Electric

Black+Decker 12-Amp Leaf Blower/Vacuum/Mulcher

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Blow dry leaves into a pile and then vacuum them up and shred them with this three-in-one electric leaf blower from Black+Decker. This handheld machine weighs in at 8.1 pounds, and it includes a detachable shoulder strap, reusable bag assembly, and three disposable bags. The unit boasts variable-speed control with up to 400 CFM airflow and air speed up to 250 mph. It also features a tough metal impeller that produces a 16:1 reduction ratio, resulting in finely shredded leaves that can be added to the compost bin or used to mulch plants. A heavy-duty 12- to 14-gauge exterior extension cord (sold separately) is needed to operate this versatile tool.

We liked the convenience of having a blower, vacuum, and mulcher in one tool. Changing from blower to vacuum was easy and only took about 1 minute: Using a flathead screwdriver, remove the blower tube and air intake cover and attach the vacuum tube and leaf collection bag. This tool performed well in both modes, with ample power and minimal clogging in vacuum mode.

Product Specs

  • Type: Handheld
  • Power source: 12-amp plug-in electric
  • Mulching ratio: 16:1

Pros

  • Convenient and affordable multitasking tool for smaller properties
  • Clean corded electric power eliminates reliance on batteries and offers unlimited runtime
  • Metal impeller grinds debris to a fine 16:1 ratio for efficient composting or disposal
  • Airflow of 400 CFM and 250 mph is comparable to the power of handheld gas leaf blowers

Cons

  • Extra parts must be stored for the unused configuration, either the blower tube and bottom cover or the vacuum tube and bagger

Get the Black+Decker leaf mulcher at Amazon, Walmart, or Target.

Best Walk-Behind

Billy Goat KV601SP Lawn and Litter Vacuum

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For large properties where leaf drop season lasts months rather than weeks, a dedicated walk-behind leaf vacuum and mulcher makes the job much more manageable. The self-propelled Billy Goat KV601SP is an excellent choice for bigger yards with lots of trees. It comes equipped with a 190cc gas engine to power the 27-inch vacuum nozzle with a massive 1,700 CFM of airflow. The strong suction picks up leaves, seeds, mulch, blooms, branches, and litter from lawns, landscape beds, and pavement. A metal impeller shreds the material at a 6:1 reduction ratio, and the large 40-gallon zipperless vacuum bag reduces downtime for dumping. For improved functionality and efficiency, a 7-foot vacuum hose attachment is available (sold separately).

The powerful suction and steady-rolling self-propelled feature made this vacuum and mulcher a pleasure to operate. However, the price and single-tasking nature of the machine realistically limits its practicality to large properties with extensive leaf-cleaning needs. Moving two to three times the air volume of the other vacuum mulchers we tested, it worked incredibly fast: 5,000 square feet of lawn and 1,000 square feet of pavement vacuumed with the debris mulched and bagged in about 15 minutes, or about the same amount of time it took to blow leaves into piles for the other leaf mulchers.

Product Specs 

  • Type: Walk-behind
  • Power source: 190cc gas engine
  • Mulching ratio: 6:1

Pros

  • Large 40-gallon zipperless vacuum bag minimizes work stoppage for unloading
  • Rear-wheel self-propelled feature works efficiently on hilly terrain
  • Powerful 1,700 CFM suction eliminates the need to blow or rake leaves before vacuuming
  • 4-cycle engine produces less noise and lower emissions than a gas-powered leaf blower

Cons

  • More than twice the price of a backpack leaf blower and stationary leaf mulcher
  • Single-task tool that is only used seasonally and then must be stored for months

Get the Billy Goat leaf mulcher at Amazon (with optional vacuum hose) or Acme Tools.

Best 3-in-1 Combo

Toro Ultra Leaf Blower/Vacuum/Mulcher

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Electric three-in-one leaf mulchers are popular because they’re so easy to use, and this Toro model was the breeziest of the bunch we tested, largely thanks to the toolless switching from blower to vacuum. The machine generates up to 340 CFM of blowing force to move leaves, small twigs, and other debris from around HVAC units, decks, and fences. We found that to be plenty of power to gather all of the leaves into a pile and then suck them up into the metal impeller shredder. The only material that slowed down this machine was coarse, wet, matted leaves.

The mulcher weighs just 8.5 pounds, making it easy to carry. It also includes a reusable collection bag and two additional tube attachments to concentrate air power. The impeller features magnesium-serrated metal blades that resist rust and corrosion. It shreds leaves at a 16:1 reduction ratio, a small size sure to quickly decompose in a compost pile that also suits layering around plants to reduce weeds and retain soil moisture.

Product Specs

  • Type: Handheld
  • Power source: 12-amp plug-in electric
  • Mulching ratio: 16:1

Pros

  • Clean corded electric power offers unlimited runtime and eliminates batteries and gas
  • Tool-free switching between blower and vacuum modes
  • Lightweight and easy to maneuver at just 8.5 pounds
  • Fine mulching ratio makes disposal more efficient and supports rapid composting

Cons

  • Slightly underpowered for bigger piles and heavy, wet leaves
  • Mobility is limited by cord length, generally up to 100 feet from an outlet with a 12-gauge extension cord (not included)

Get the Toro leaf mulcher at Ace HardwareThe Home Depot, or Acme Tools.

Also Consider

Flowtron LE900 Leaf-Eater Mulcher/Shredder

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For yards with lots of leaves, an electric stand-alone leaf mulcher is often the best bet, and this Flowtron model is a worthy contender. Its 5.9-amp motor will run all day, with just a few stops along the way to install new trimmer lines. It grinds up dry leaves at a rate of up to 55 gallons per minute. Choose from fine, medium, and coarse mulching settings, based on material. The fine setting is great for dry, thin material like pine needles and dry leaves, while the coarse setting is better suited for wet matted leaves and grass clippings. An onboard safety shutoff kills the engine if it overheats.

This stand-alone model almost made the cut as our best overall pick since it was a viable option in terms of performance. However, the setup proved to be far less user-friendly. The plastic hopper arrived in two halves, requiring assembly by aligning tabs and installing four screws. Assembling the two halves of the metal stand requires two screws, two brackets, and two wing nuts. Though this wasn’t difficult, these engineering choices made the process more clunky and complicated than it had to be. In action, we liked the lower working height but found it necessary to use trash bags instead of paper lawn and leaf bags for collection because the base is so low to the ground.

Product Specs

  • Type: Stand-alone
  • Power source: 5.9-amp plug-in electric
  • Mulching ratio: Adjustable to 30:1

Pros

  • Comfortable working height makes it easy to load leaves into the hopper
  • Ability to adjust the angle of the hopper from vertical to a slight tilt for easier access
  • Mulches directly into disposal bags, which can be set up on a trash barrel

Cons

  • Base and housing assembly process is unnecessarily clumsy
  • Stand is too low to load standard paper lawn and leaf bags

Get the Flowtron leaf mulcher at Amazon, The Home Depot, or Walmart.

Jump to Our Top Picks

What to Consider When Choosing a Leaf Mulcher

Consider ease of operation, efficiency, and performance when selecting the best leaf mulcher for a specific job. These factors are dependent on the following features:

Blades

Most leaf mulchers have metal blades that spin at rapid speeds to chop and shred leaves into tiny bits, but some models use heavy-duty plastic blades or even string-trimming line. All three options can shred leaves, but metal blades are often more durable.

Mulching Ratio

The mulching ratio, also known as the reduction ratio, indicates how much the tool will reduce the leaves’ overall size. For example, a mulching ratio of 10:1 indicates the mulcher will reduce 10 bags of dried leaves to shreds that will fit in a single bag. Typical mulching ratios range from 8:1 to 18:1, with the highest ratios producing the smallest shreds. Keep in mind that small shreds will decompose more quickly in a compost pile.

Capacity

Leaf mulcher capacity relates to the amount of air the machine moves in CFM. Most corded and cordless leaf mulchers range from around 175 to 500 CFM, with the highest-capacity models designed for heavy-duty leaf clearing. Gas leaf mulchers, which are more powerful, tend to have higher capacities, ranging from 450 to 700 CFM.

Functions

Stand-alone leaf mulchers have a single function—they shred leaves dropped into their hoppers. Handheld models often do more, including blowing leaves into a pile and then vacuuming them up for shredding. While a few handheld leaf mulchers vacuum but do not blow, models with three functions operate as leaf blowers and leaf vacuums.

Ease of Use

Both corded and cordless leaf mulchers are easier to use than gas models because they don’t require mixing fuel, adding engine oil, servicing a carburetor, or using a hand recoil to start the engine. However, fans of gas models may consider the greater power derived from a gas-powered leaf mulcher to be worth the extra effort.

Noise

All power tools, including leaf mulchers, make some noise, but cordless and corded models are fairly quiet at approximately 60 to 63 decibels—comparable to the sound of conversational speech. Gas-powered leaf mulchers are quite a bit louder at around 85 to 90 decibels, or comparable to the sound of busy street traffic from the curb. Shoppers should check their city ordinances prior to purchase; an electric leaf mulcher may be preferable or required in communities where loud noises are discouraged or prohibited.

Types of Leaf Mulchers

Leaf mulchers are all designed with one primary task: shredding leaves, typically with spinning impeller blades. Yet certain features are worth considering when choosing the type of mulcher that best suits a particular yard or job. Leaf mulchers offer a variety of power options, such as an electrical cord, a gas engine, or a rechargeable battery. In addition, while many leaf mulchers are handheld, some are stationary. As with all power tools, read and follow the manufacturer’s safety precautions, and do not operate a leaf mulcher when small children are nearby.

Corded Electric 

Corded leaf mulchers, which fall into the electric leaf blower category, feature motors rated in amps that range from around 8 to 14 amps. The higher the amps, the more powerful the motor. Corded models are quieter than gas-powered models, and there is no fuel to mix or flammable gas to store. While charging a battery isn’t a concern with a corded leaf mulcher, users will be limited to the length of an extension cord, which usually tops out at around 100 feet. A handheld corded mulcher weighs about 6 to 9 pounds, so it’s easy to use without developing shoulder or arm fatigue.

Gas

Gas-powered leaf mulchers provide ample power with no risk of tripping over an extension cord and no battery to charge. The engine of a gas leaf mulcher is rated by its size in cubic centimeters. The larger the number, the more powerful the engine. An engine is also rated by the type of fuel it requires: A 2-cycle gas engine requires mixing gasoline with engine oil at a ratio determined by the manufacturer, while a 4-cycle gas engine runs on pure gasoline only. While a gas leaf mulcher is portable because it isn’t tethered to a cord, it will weigh quite a bit more—between 10 and 17 pounds—than any corded or cordless model. Another downside to gas models is the fumes they emit.

Cordless

Like corded mulchers, battery-operated cordless leaf mulchers won’t require users to mix fuel or be exposed to toxic fumes. Cordless leaf mulchers are ultimately portable since they’re fairly lightweight and aren’t restricted by the length of a cord; however, the average lithium battery runtime is between about 15 and 35 minutes, depending on the voltage. These rechargeable batteries average 20 to 40 volts. The higher the voltage, the longer the runtime. Buying a second battery and keeping it charged will allow for much longer use of a cordless mulcher.

Handheld vs. Stand-Alone 

The majority of leaf mulchers are handheld models that vacuum up leaves and then pass them through spinning impeller blades for shredding. Many handheld models also feature leaf-blowing capability to blow leaves into piles for easier vacuum collection.

However, some shoppers prefer the ease of use of a stand-alone model. You can position these leaf mulchers in a central spot in your yard and dump dried leaves into a top intake chute—known as a hopper—for shredding. A collection bag attaches to a discharge chute at the bottom of the hopper.

FAQs 

Yard cleanup may seem like a straightforward task, but first-time shoppers of leaf mulchers might need more information. Check out the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about leaf mulchers.

Q. What is the difference between a mulcher and a chipper?

While both items will produce small bits of biodegradable material for use as mulch around plants or for adding to a compost pile, a leaf mulcher handles only leaves and tiny twigs, while a wood chipper can shred small tree branches.

Q. What can I put in a mulcher?

A leaf mulcher is only intended for dry leaves. Avoid sucking up acorns and twigs larger than 0.125 inch in diameter and don’t mulch green leaves or grass clippings. Green plant matter can clog the blades of a leaf mulcher.

Q. What are the benefits of mulching? 

Spreading a layer of shredded leaves around the base of plants helps reduce weed growth, improves soil content, and retains moisture in the soil.

Q. What are the disadvantages of mulching? 

There are no disadvantages to mulching. It reduces leaf waste, and the mulch can benefit plants and soil.

Why Trust Bob Vila 

Bob Vila has been America’s Handyman since 1979. As the host of beloved and groundbreaking TV series including “This Old House” and “Bob Vila’s Home Again,” he popularized and became synonymous with “do-it-yourself” home improvement.

Over the course of his decades-long career, Bob Vila has helped millions of people build, renovate, repair, and live better each day—a tradition that continues today with expert yet accessible home advice. The Bob Vila team distills need-to-know information into project tutorials, maintenance guides, tool 101s, and more. These home and garden experts then thoroughly research, vet, and recommend products that support homeowners, renters, DIYers, and professionals in their to-do lists.

Meet the Tester

Mark Wolfe is a writer and product tester with a background in the nursery and landscaping industries. For more than 20 years, he mowed, edged, planted, pruned, cultivated, irrigated, and renovated beautiful landscapes. Now, he tests and writes reviews about the latest outdoor power equipment, hand tools, lawn-care products, and other outdoor living goods.

Additional research provided by Glenda Taylor.

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Glenda Taylor

Staff Writer

Glenda Taylor is a BobVila.com staff writer with a background in the residential remodeling, home building, and home improvement industries. She started writing for BobVila.com in 2016 and covers a range of topics, including construction methods, code compliance, tool use, and the latest news in the housing and real estate industries. 

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