8 Best Leaf Mulchers for 2021

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A woman uses one of the best leaf mulchers to vacuum and shred autumn leaves.

As beautiful as they are to behold, fall leaves don’t quite hold their charm when they’re piled up in your yard. I’m speaking from experience here: Even though we live on a small suburban lot, we’ve easily filled over 100 paper bags with leaves some years. But it doesn’t have to be that way!

A leaf shredder uses a gas engine, electric motor or battery power to turn blades or strings that slice through leaves and small twigs, finely chopping them and reducing volume by as much as 18 bags down to one. When chopped, leaves are an excellent carbon-rich addition to the compost pile, and they also make an effective winter mulch for perennial plants and vegetable gardens.

Today, you’ll learn about our 8 top choices for the best leaf mulchers out there, including the pros/cons of each one and detailed specs. To help you find the one that’s just right for you, we’ll also cover some key features to look for while shopping and answer some common questions.

Let’s dive in!

RELATED: After dealing with your fall leaves, dethatching the lawn might be next on your list of tasks. Check out our favorite electric lawn dethatchers to get the job done fast!

1. WORX WG509 TRIVAC Electric Leaf Blower/Mulcher/Yard Vacuum

**Best Overall Leaf Mulcher

WORX WG509 TRIVAC Electric Leaf Blower/Mulcher/Yard Vacuum
  • Type: Handheld
  • Reduction ratio: 18:1
  • Weight: 9.6 pounds
  • Power source: Corded electric
  • Dimensions: 20 inches long, 15 inches wide and 9 inches tall
  • Shredding mechanism: Metal impeller
  • Accommodates branches: No
  • Warranty: 3-year limited warranty

The TRIVAC model from WORX comes in as our top pick for the best leaf mulcher, thanks to a super-high reduction ratio, lightweight build, powerful action and multiple functions.

This tool is a 3-in-1 with these capabilities:

  1. Debris blower
  2. Leaf vacuum
  3. Leaf mulcher

But in this review, we’re focusing on the mulcher option.

The metal shredding blades tear through leaves with 12 amps of power, reducing the original volume in a whopping 18:1 ratio. That’s about the highest reduction ratio you’ll find among leaf shredders, especially in handheld models.

To achieve this high reduction rate, WORX uses a metal impeller with two sets of blades rather than the typical single set. This two-stage grinding process produces an ultra-fine shred, and the metal construction is highly durable.

Given its super-fine shredding capability, this is our pick for the best leaf shredder for compost. Leaves can take a very long time to break down, so the smaller the pieces are, the more time you’ll shave off the decomposition process.

RELATED: The Yimby tumbler composter is one of the most popular home composting products out there. Check out my full review where I test out the Yimbly for myself!

You’ve also got a detachable collection bag that holds 1.2 bushels (11.2 gallons) of shredded leaves. Considering the high reduction ratio, you’ll be able to vacuum up a considerable pile of leaves before your bag fills up.

But when it does, the bag easily unclips from the TRIVAC with the push of a button and a turn of the wrist. To empty the bag, undo the side zipper and dump your mulched leaves in your garden or in a trash can. Then re-zip, reattach the bag and get right back to it.

This shredded boasts a lot of power and great function, but it’s still surprisingly lightweight at just 9.6 pounds when the collection bag is empty. When the collection bag is full, it weighs much more, but the bag has an attached shoulder strap that lets you distribute the weight more comfortably.

One thing to be aware of is that this shredder is meant for leaves only and doesn’t work with acorns or twigs of any significant size. These larger materials jam in the metal grinder, causing the motor to stall or overheat.

So it’s worth the time to pick out as many sticks as possible from your leaf pile and avoid vacuuming up oak leaves where there are a lot of acorns mixed in.

Pros

  • 3-in-1 function
  • High reduction ratio
  • Collection bag is easy to remove and empty
  • Lightweight design
  • Switch between blowing and vacuum/mulch modes on the fly

Cons

  • Jams easily on acorns and twigs

2. BLACK+DECKER BEBL7000 Leaf Blower/Vacuum/Mulcher

BLACK+DECKER BEBL7000 Leaf Blower/Vacuum/Mulcher
  • Type: Handheld with backpack collection bag
  • Reduction ratio: 16:1
  • Weight: 11.1 pounds
  • Power source: Corded electric
  • Dimensions: 21 inches long, 11.6 inches wide and 16 inches tall
  • Shredding mechanism: Industrial-grade plastic impeller
  • Accommodates branches: No
  • Warranty: 2-year limited warranty

The standout feature of this model is the nifty backpack-style leaf collection bag. Mulched leaves can get surprisingly heavy, and while a shoulder strap is nice, a backpack is far superior for comfortably distributing that weight across your upper body.

And since the bag holds just shy of 6 bushels (55 gallons), you’ll definitely appreciate the ergonomic design!

Another nice aspect of the bag is the clever roll-and-clip closure design. In many handheld vacuums, the collection bag has a zippered seam for emptying the bag. Even though it’s easy and fast to use, a zipper can be a weak point that’s prone to breaking, leaving your vacuum useless.

Black + Decker went with a bag that’s totally open on one end with a buckle clip closure. To close your bag, roll the open ends under a few times, fold the rolled edges together and secure with the sturdy plastic buckle. To open the bag, reverse the process. Besides eliminating a zipper, this design also gives you an ultra-wide opening for emptying your bag.

This machine also produces a powerful suction that makes short work of leaves and tiny twigs. And with the flexible hose, you’ve got an almost unlimited range of motion to get into tight spaces.

However, while we love the convenience of the hose, keep in mind that it’s made from a thin material that could rip or puncture from sharp sticks. So be on the lookout and pick up sticks before you accidentally suck them up.

Pros

  • Backpack-style collection bag
  • Flexible hose is easy to handle
  • Powerful suction quickly vacuums leaves
  • Easy to empty the bag

Cons

  • Hose can get punctured

3. WORX WG430 Electric Leaf Mulcher

Worx WG430 Electric Leaf Mulcher
  • Type: Stationary freestanding
  • Reduction ratio: 11:1
  • Weight: 20 pounds
  • Power source: Corded electric
  • Dimensions: 22.83 inches long, 22.83 inches wide, height not stated
  • Shredding mechanism: Nylon strings
  • Accommodates branches: No
  • Warranty: 3-year limited warranty

This leaf shredder uses a blade-less system to rapidly shred up leaves and small twigs, pouring out the mulched product through an opening on the bottom of the shredder. And pouring is an appropriate word- you can process a whopping 53 gallons of leaves per minute!

Worx uses a nylon string system to mulch leaves, which is most similar to the action of a standard string trimmer. But don’t think that thin strings can’t compare with metal blades. The electric motor generates 13 amps of power to produce 8,500 RPM. That’s more than enough to shred leaves at lightning speed.

With your mulcher, you also get 24 extra strings for replacement, and replacing a spent string with a fresh one is an easy process that only takes a few minutes.

The machine can handle small twigs up to about the thickness of your pinky finger, but be aware that throwing in lots of solid material (like twigs) can wear down your strings quickly.

The tall, circular base has a wide opening for a single-use refuse bag, a reusable bag or a garbage can, making collection a breeze. With the shredder’s high output, using an oversized clear plastic contractor’s trash bag is your best bet, and there’s plenty of room to fit one under this shredder.

Secure your bag in place by lifting the shredder off the metal base, stretching the bag open inside the base and replacing the shredder on top.

Leaf mulchers in general work best with dry leaves, but chopping up that dry material can create an uncomfortable (and unhealthy) cloud of dust. So we greatly appreciate that WORX designed their motor air-intake mechanism to separate dust/debris from the air, so more dust makes it into the bag and stays out of the air.

Also, this system cools the motor, leading to longer work time and less risk of motor burnout.

One other cool feature is that there’s no assembly required before use. Each part is ready to go out of the box, and all you need to do is clip the legs in place and set the shredder on the top.

On that same note, you also don’t need any tools to disassemble your shredder, and the pieces nest together for convenient, compact storage during the off-season.

While this shredder has plenty of impressive and clever features, the 11:1 mulching ratio is a bit lower than what other models offer. So you may have just a couple more bags to deal with.

Pros

  • Powerful motor shreds leaves fast
  • Motor cooling system also reduces dust
  • Accommodates oversize garbage bags
  • No tools needed for assembly or disassembly
  • Disassembles for compact storage

Cons

  • Relatively small mulching reduction ratio

4. Toro 51621 UltraPlus Leaf Blower Vacuum

Toro 51621 UltraPlus Leaf Blower Vacuum
  • Type: Handheld
  • Reduction ratio: Reduces bulk by up to 88% (exact ratio not stated)
  • Weight: 8.9 pounds
  • Power source: Corded electric
  • Dimensions: 45 inches long, 9 inches wide and 14 inches tall
  • Shredding mechanism: Metal impeller and a serrated shredding ring
  • Accommodates branches: No
  • Warranty: 2-year limited warranty

When super-fine leaf mulch is the goal, this machine from Toro delivers. Using a combination of a standard impeller and a patented “shreds-all” ring, this machine reduces leaf volume by up to 88%. That’s pretty impressive!

The bag holds a respectable 1.5 bushels (13.9 gallons) and has a shoulder strap for support. With the high reduction volume, you should be able to tackle large piles of leaves with just a few stops to empty the bag.

This machine is also a powerful blower, with various nozzle attachments for getting in tight spaces or increasing flow rate. What’s nice is that each piece clips and unclips into place, so switching between modes and attachments is quick and requires no tools.

Another thing that’s great about this design is that it makes it easy to clear larger jams in the vacuum nozzle, should they occur.

For small jams on twigs, bark pieces or leaf clumps, just turning off the vacuum is enough to let the clogged material fall back to the ground. But if you run into a more troublesome jam, you can cut the power, detach the vacuum nozzle and clear it by hand in just a few seconds.

And with a weight of just under 9 pounds, this is the lightest handheld shredder on the list today.

One thing to keep in mind: The fine shredding action is perfect for maximum bulk reduction and making garden mulch, but it produces a lot of dust. So make sure to wear an appropriate dust mask to stay safe while you’re working.

Pros

  • Dual-stage shredding produces fine mulch
  • Easy to clear jams
  • Lightweight
  • No tools needed to switch between attachments

Cons

  • Produces a lot of dust

5. Sun Joe SBJ606E-GA-SJG Electric Blower/Vacuum/Mulcher/Gutter Cleaner

Sun Joe SBJ606E-GA-SJG Electric Blower/Vacuum/Mulcher/Gutter Cleaner
  • Type: Handheld with wheels
  • Reduction ratio: 16:1
  • Weight: 9.1 pounds
  • Power source: Corded electric
  • Dimensions: 32.7 inches long, 12.75 inches wide and 9.1 inches tall
  • Shredding mechanism: Metal impeller
  • Accommodates branches: No
  • Warranty: 2-year limited warranty

If you’ve got a lot of leaves but you’re not too keen on carrying a large tool around the yard, this mulcher from Sun Joe is a happy medium.

Two small wheels on the end of the vacuum nozzle let you simply push your shredder around while you suck up and mulch your leaves. Thanks to an angled opening, the nozzle efficiently picks up leaves while you hold the tool in a comfortable, ergonomic position.

At 1.9 bushels (18 gallons) of capacity, the bag is pretty generously sized. It also has a shoulder strap, so you don’t have to worry about holding the bag up yourself or dragging it along while you work.

But one feature of the bag that we don’t like as much is the emptying port. There is no zipper or side opening to let your mulched leaves out, just the small round opening where the bag attaches to the shredder. So it will take a little work to shake the leaves free into your garden or trash can.

Aside from being a powerful leaf vacuum/shredder, Sun Joe also included attachment pieces for using your machine as a standard blower and a gutter cleaner. Almost all handheld shredders do double duty as blowers, but it’s the gutter cleaner that is really cool here.

To use it, attach the long, hook-shaped nozzle to the machine, switch to blower mode and blast the leaves out to be vacuumed and mulched up. No more getting up on the ladder!

Pros

  • Wheeled design
  • Large collection bag
  • Multiple useful attachments
  • Easy to balance and maneuver

Cons

  • Bag can be hard to empty

6. Earthwise LM71313 Electric Leaf Mulcher/Shredder

Earthwise LM71313 Electric Leaf Mulcher/Shredder
  • Type: Wheeled freestanding
  • Reduction ratio: 16:1
  • Weight: 22 pounds
  • Power source: Corded electric
  • Dimensions: 23 inches long, 23 inches wide and 48 inches tall
  • Shredding mechanism: Nylon strings
  • Accommodates branches: No
  • Warranty: 2-year limited warranty

At first glance, this Earthwise shredder looks like a 5-gallon bucket mounted on a wheeled stand. But with its powerful motor, high reduction ratio and top-notch volume capacity, don’t let looks fool you!

This shredder uses nylon strings to chop up leaves and small twigs, much like the WORX model we looked at earlier.

You can feed leaves into the hopper at 55 gallons per minute, which is even a little bit more than the already-impressive WORX shredder at 53 gallons per minute. So getting through even a massive pile of leaves shouldn’t take too long.

There are three mulch settings to choose from that control how finely the shredder chops up your leaves, up to a 16:1 reduction ratio.

One really nice thing is that standard paper lawn refuse bags are a perfect fit under the output funnel, and four clips hold the bag securely in place while your work. When you do have to switch a bag out, the open bottom frame makes for a quick, easy task.

The addition of wheels to the shredder frame is a great idea, making it easy to maneuver your shredder to various parts of the yard with no trouble.

But along with the fine shred and ultra-fast chopping action comes a fair amount of both dust and noise. So ear protection and a dust mask are especially important while using this machine.

Also, this mulcher does not collapse or disassemble for storage, so make sure to designate plenty of space in your garage or shed during the off-season.

Pros

  • High volume capacity and reduction ratio
  • Wheels make it easy to move around the yard
  • Accommodates standard paper refuse bags
  • Easy to switch bags out

Cons

  • Dusty and noisy
  • Bulky for storage

7. Greenworks 24322 Cordless Blower/Vacuum

Greenworks 24322 Cordless Blower/Vacuum
  • Type: Handheld
  • Reduction ratio: 10:1
  • Weight: 14.99 pounds
  • Power source: 40V battery
  • Dimensions: 32.5 inches long, 8.5 inches wide and 11 inches tall
  • Shredding mechanism: Industrial-grade plastic impeller
  • Accommodates branches: No
  • Warranty: 3-year limited warranty on tool, 4-year warranty on battery

You just can’t beat the convenience of batteries as a self-contained power source. And with 40V of power to work with, this blower/shredder from Greenworks produces a powerful leaf suction and a 10:1 reduction ratio.

But like any battery-powered too out there, your work time is limited to the life of the battery charge. In general, this shredder works for about 20 minutes per charge, and the battery takes about 120 minutes to recharge.

This mulcher is best-suited for small lawns that you can clean up on just one or two battery charges. If your lawn is larger, you can definitely still use this tool, but plan on multiple mulching sessions to get through your entire leaf pile.

Also, keep in mind that the battery adds a few pounds to the overall weight of the tool. But at just shy of 15 pounds, it’s not overly heavy and with the shorter battery life, you won’t have too much opportunity to get over-tired from excessive use.

When it comes to the collection bag, you can hold a maximum of 1.2 bushels (11.1 gallons) of mulched leaves. Thanks to a zippered seam, it’s easy to dump your leaf mulch quickly and get back at it.

Finally, this battery is interchangeable with more than 60 other 40V Greenworks tools. If you own one of these tools, you have the option to save some cash by purchasing this mulcher as a tool only and using the battery you already have.

Pros

  • No cord to trip over
  • Powerful suction
  • Great for small yards
  • Compatible with other Greenworks 40V batteries

Cons

  • Limited battery life
  • Battery adds weight

8. SuperHandy Wood Chipper/Shredder/Mulcher

SuperHandy Wood Chipper/Shredder/Mulcher
  • Type: Wheeled freestanding
  • Mulch reduction ratio: 15:1
  • Weight: 120.7 pounds
  • Power source: Gas
  • Dimensions: ‎29.5 long, 25.7 inches wide and 40.6 inches tall
  • Shredding mechanism: Metal blades
  • Accommodates branches: Yes, up to 3 inches in diameter
  • Warranty: 3-year limited warranty

When you’re got a very large yard or lots of small limbs to dispatch in addition to your leaves, this powerful machine from SuperHandy can be a great choice.

This machine is powered by a strong 212cc 4-stroke single-cylinder engine that generates 7 HP of power. The machine offers three functions:

  1. Mulching leaves
  2. Chipping small twigs
  3. Chipping or shredding larger branches, up to 3 inches in diameter

You have two input chutes that accommodate leaves/yard waste of various sizes. The smaller top chute is ideal for leaves for twigs, and the larger side input chute is where you feed in branches.

SuperHandy located their output chute low on the machine and covered it with a sturdy metal awning to keep debris from flying in your face, and you can attach the nylon collection bag as well.

If you’d like to skip raking altogether, you can also use this machine as a leaf vacuum with the additional purchase of the attachment kit.

Even though this shredder is pretty heavy at 120 pounds, the 10-inch polyurethane tires make it simple to roll around the yard. Also, the wide handlebar gives you plenty of space to get a good grip for maneuvering.

One thing to be aware of: This machine requires some fairly extensive assembly, so be sure to plan some extra time before getting to work.

Pros

  • Powerful engine tears through leaves and small branches
  • Large wheels make it easy to move around the yard
  • Dual input chutes
  • Perfect for large spaces or extensive clean-ups

Cons

  • Needs a lot of initial assembly

RELATED: Looking for more electric lawn care tools? Stop by our posts on the best string trimmers and lawn mowers to check out your options.

Leaf Mulcher Frame and Power Source Types

Now that we’ve covered the details in our leaf shredder reviews, let’s take a high-level overview of the various power sources and types you’ll encounter while shopping for the best leaf shredders.

Power Sources

Leaf mulchers come in three power source options:

  1. Corded electric
  2. Battery-powered
  3. Gas engines

Here are the details of each one:

Corded electric. Electric leaf mulchers are the most common option you’ll see on the market. Most of the time, corded models offer excellent performance, multiple function options and tend to be near the low end of the price scale.

They’re also the most lightweight options since there’s no gas engine or battery to add weight. And with a constant flow of power, you can work until the job is done.

But corded mulchers do come with a couple of drawbacks, namely the safety risks of tripping over the cord or getting an electrical shock from working with wet leaves or a cord malfunction.

Also, the cord length limits you in how far you can go from your power source. And the cost of a high-quality, appropriately sized extension cord is an additional expense.

Battery-powered. Since you’re carrying the power source along with you, you’re unlimited in terms of how where you can fire up your mulcher and get to work. Also, you’ll never have to worry about tripping over an extension cord that got hidden among piles of leaves.

But battery-powered mulchers tend to weigh a bit more owing to the battery, and your work time is limited to how long your battery charge lasts.

Gas engine. As good as they are, electric and battery mulchers will never be able to fully match the power and performance of a gas engine. And many gas-powered mulchers can also tear through twigs, bark pieces and even branches up to a few inches thick, so they’re great if you’re working in heavily wooded conditions.

A couple of downsides to gas-powered mulchers are very heavy, so they’re not as readily portable as their electric or battery counterparts. Also, gas mulchers produce fumes and smoke, and small engines require routine maintenance to stay in good working order.

Frame Types

In this article, we’re looking at two basic types of leaf mulchers:

  1. Handheld
  2. Freestanding

There are also tractor-style riding models or tow-behind models, but they’re typically geared more for commercial use rather than for the average homeowner.

Since we’re dealing with mulching leaves at the residential level, let’s take a look at handheld and fresstanding mulchers:

Handheld. This is the most common form of leaf mulcher out there, and they’re almost always combined with a leaf blower and vacuum for a nice 3-in-1 design.

Handheld mulchers are ideal for small and medium-sized lawns. They could also work for large lawns, but you’d have to be willing to invest quite a bit of time and work.

Most handheld mulchers use a rotating impeller to create a vacuum and shred up leaves. Here’s a photo of a motor with an impeller, if you’re not familiar with what one looks like:

A photo of an impeller mounted on a motor.

One problem with this is that the impeller can jam easily on twigs, acorns or other debris. This means that you should remove as many twigs and sticks from your leaves as possible before shredding, and you may need to stop work clear jams from time to time.

Freestanding. A freestanding mulcher can be a stationary model or have wheels for moving from place to place.

One major benefit to freestanding mulchers is their incredible volume capacity. You can feed huge handfuls or scoops of leaves into the bin, and the machine expels the shredded bits through a lower chute or outlet and into a large collection bag.

Some freestanding mulchers are also capable of chipping sticks and small branches to create wood mulch.

Overall, freestanding models are ideal for processing large quantities of leaves quickly, so they’re especially well-suited for large lawns.

Staying Safe While Using a Leaf Mulcher

With shredding components, fast-moving parts and noisy motors, you need to take a few precautions to mulch your leaves up safely.

Eye Protection

Mulchers use spinning gears and slicing strings that could suddenly throw pieces of wood, bark or other debris with no warning. So always wear safety glasses or goggles while you work.

Gloves

For freestanding mulchers, an extra layer of protection between your hands and any fast-moving parts helps you avoid lacerations or even worse. Leather gloves are your best bet, and they can also keep you from getting poked by any sticks hiding among your leaves.

Thick gloves aren’t totally necessary for handheld mulchers, since the machine is the one reaching into the leaves instead of your hands. But a pair of comfortable gloves may provide some cushioning and help guard against blisters.

Hearing Protection

According to the Boston Globe, the average leaf blower generates up to 115 decibels of noise, and it stands to reason that leaf mulchers aren’t too far behind. That kind of noise level can potentially damage your hearing, especially after repeated exposures.

So earplugs or headphones are a smart idea.

Dust Mask

We mentioned it briefly in a couple of the reviews, but it bears repeating. Since leaf mulchers grind your leaves into fine bits, they can also create quite a bit of dust and other particulate matter that can irritate your nose, throat or lungs.

Especially if you’re already prone to respiratory issues or you choose a model that produces a super-fine shred, invest in a good dust mask.

Frequently Asked Questions about the Best Leaf Mulchers

A leaf mulcher is a small machine that only shreds soft, flexible organic material like tree leaves and grass clippings. A mulcher can be powered by a battery, an electrical outlet or in some cases a gas engine.

A wood chipper is a more heavy-duty machine that can handle solid material like tree branches and large sticks. Most wood chippers are moderate to large machines and they usually run on gasoline.

Shredded leaves make an outstanding winter mulch for your lawn and garden since they’re highly insulating. Also, decaying leaves add nutrients back into the soil, and piles of fallen leaves provide a winter habitat for wildlife.

So keeping them around the house is a great way to recycle, support local animals and insects while also naturally enriching your soil.

But if you’ve got more leaves than you can use around the house, mulching them before bagging is a great way to reduce the bulk that goes to the landfill.

Never vacuum or mulch wet leaves with a corded electric tool: You risk getting a serious electrical shock. Instead, turn wet leaves over with a pitchfork or rake, and work with them when they’re dry.

With gas and battery mulchers, the risk of electrical shock is lower. But wet leaves can still cause problems with clogging your machine or creating moisture damage. So try to get your leaves dealt with on dry days.

Final Thoughts

With a little help from one of these 8 best leaf mulchers, you can spend less time raking up leaves and more time enjoying all the short-lived glories of fall.

And if you choose to use your shredded leaves as a mulch for winter (which we hope you do!), you can look forward to happier wildlife, less waste to throw away and better soil come spring.

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