Last Updated on November 29, 2021 by Grow with Bovees
For most homeowners, fall season is synonymous with the sight of a stack of leaves that may not be appealing to the eyes, and many people actually consider them a helluva nuisance, owing mostly to the additional yard work and the daunting effort of clearing up the garden debris.
Contrarily, there are those avid gardeners who regard a pile of leaves, aka ‘leaf litter’, as ‘garden gold’, because it is a potential source of all-year-round protection and nourishment for your flower & vegetable beds.
However, there’s no doubt about it, collecting leaves and shredding them manually to make mulch, then bagging them, can be a time-consuming and tiresome task, to say the least and that’s where a leaf picker upper and leaf shredder aka leaf mulcher comes in
Unfortunately, choosing between a selection of leaf shredders that can do the job right for you can be a bit overwhelming in itself, owing to the array of different options available.
But we’ve checked out what’s on the market and having compared several models alongside each other, we’ve narrowed them down to our Secret Seven Best power tools for shredding leaves, for you to choose from, indicating what makes each one suitable or not suitable as the best leaf shredder for your particular needs when it comes to dealing with the fallen leaves.
In a hurry?
Here are our top picks at a glance to save you from plowing through a load of leaf collection equipment reviews…
As a quick and easy tool for dealing with lawn debris in a small to medium-sized yard or where the weight of the power tool could be an issue, then we recommend the ‘Black + Decker’ BV3100 3-in-1 Electric leaf shredder.
For medium, to large-scale properties, we recommend the ‘Sun Joe’ SBJ605E 3-in-1 Electric Corded Leaf & Twig mulcher.
For larger properties or properties where the area to clear is quite a distance from the house meaning the electrical power supply is an issue then we recommend; a combination of the ‘Greenworks’ 24322 Cordless Leaf Blower/Vacuum and the ‘Super Handy’ Ultra Heavy-Duty Wood Chipper/Shredder/Mulcher
Our Top Best Leaf Picker Upper Reviews — in more detail
The Black and Decker BV3100 is a versatile tool in that it is not only a mulcher but also serves as a leaf blower and leaf vacuum.
It is the most lightweight of our choices at just 7 lbs and is designed to make yard cleanup extremely easy as it combines power-assisted ‘sweeping’ with ‘picking up’, ‘mulching’, and depositing into leaf bags.
No more back-breaking pushing broom, bending over and compacting by hand.
Despite only requiring a draw of 12 amps, it produces a very respectable airspeed of 210mph and a blowing power of 300cfm, which is ample for tidying up the leaves and other lightweight yard debris accumulated in a small to medium-sized yard, in a fraction of the time it would take to do it manually.
Adding to this, it offers two speeds to choose from, so you can set the right amount of power for each yard task.
The Black and Decker leaf picker upper/blower vac can mulch 10 bags of leaves down into 1 bag which is described as a 10:1 mulching ratio and comes with a 1.0-bushel (9.3 gallons (35.2 l)) bag, so just imagine the volume of leaves that deals with!
With a blowing power of 300 CFM, it is perfectly adequate for leaf blowing, gathering together grass clippings, and other lawn debris, and then vacuuming them up through into the mulching component.
Further, the Black and Decker BV310 is easily switched from blower mode to vacuum mode and vice versa, with no tools required.
The Black and Decker BV310 operates at 68 dBA, which is equivalent to the noise level in an average office and less than the noise made by a vacuum cleaner so there is no need for ear protection or worrying about the neighbors’ complaints.
It comes with everything you need to get started right out of the box; including a blow tube, vacuum tube, and collection bag and takes less than five minutes to assemble.
On top of all of this, it has a two-year manufacturer warranty against materials and workmanship.
Blower, vacuum, and mulching functions
Lightweight at 7 lbs
210 mph blow speed/300 CFM air power
10:1 mulching ratio
Comes with 1.0-bushel (9.3 gallons) reusable collection bag
The vacuum cannot be used without mulching
Sun Joe SBJ605E Electric Corded three-in-one Leaf Mulcher
Like the Black + Decker BV3100, the Sun Joe SBJ605E showcases a 3-in-1 design serving as a blower, vacuum and mulcher. However, unlike the Black + Decker BV3100 it can be ordered in a choice of four inspiring colors — dark blue, lime green, red or light blue.
Other differences include the fact that it is a bit more of a powerful motor than the BV3100, the clean and quiet instant start motor of the SBJ605E requires a 14-amp supply, as opposed to a 12 amp supply.
However, in return, it provides 250 mph airspeed, 40 mph more than the BV3100, and a blowing power of 440 CFM, almost 50% more than the BV3100.
This extra power along with the highly durable aluminum alloy impeller means that heavier and higher volumes of leaves, small twigs, and debris can be dealt with faster, therefore if you have a medium to large-sized yard it won’t take you as long as it would with the BV3100.
In addition, when the leaves are wet it won’t slow you down. The SBJ605E packs the power of a hurricane into the palm of your hand, making the clearing of leaves and twigs fun, quick and easy.
The extra power is easily controlled with six different speeds to choose from so you can adapt easily from clearing amongst fragile flower heads to shifting built up drifts of soggy leaves.
To complement the extra gathering and mulching capabilities, the SBJ605E also has a superior mulching ratio of 16:1, over 50% more than the BV3100 which means you can clear larger areas without having to empty the bag.
A further advantage with the SBJ605E in this regard is the fact that the bag is also bigger, double the size in fact, with a capacity to hold 2 bushels (18.6 gallons).
The Sun Joe SBJ605E operates at 96 dB, so it’s a bit noisier than the BV3100 but is still only 1 decibel more than a subway train is from 200ft away, and 9 decibels LESS than a power mower.
As with the BV3100, the Sun Joe’s interchangeable tube design means it can be converted from a blower to a vacuum within a few seconds.
At 9.5 lbs the SBJ605E is a bit heavier than the BV3100, but that is compensated for by the ingenious addition of wheels at the end of the funnel for extra support.
A bonus with the SBJ605E is that you can use the Sun Joe Gutter Cleaning Blower Attachment.
This can be extended up to 15 feet enabling you to use it from the ground to reach up into your gutters. It has sections of tube that pivot so that the U-nozzle on the end directs the airflow down into the gutter to blow out the leaves.
In their words…When life gives you leaves, clean up’s a breeze… with Sun Joe!
You’ll leave your neighbors wondering where all the leaves went…
The Sun Joe electric leaf mulcher is ETL approved and backed by a Full two-year warranty against any manufacturer defects.
3-in-1 design – blower, vacuum, mulcher
Wheels on the end of the funnel for ease of use.
250 mph (402.34 km/h) airspeed
16:1 Mulching ratio
Aluminum alloy impeller
Quick conversion from blower to vacuum
Variable speed (6 adjustable wind speeds)
14 amp motor instant-start electric motor
Full 2-year manufacturer warranty
A few complaints about the quality of the stitching on the bag
Greenworks #24322 Cordless Brushless Leaf Blower/Vacuum
If you have a reasonably large sized yard then the lack of a close-by electrical power supply can be an issue, even with an extension cord, so we have addressed that issue when it comes to leaf litter and mulching by investigating options that don’t require a power supply close by.
For dealing with the actual collection of the leaves we have pinpointed the Greenworks 24322 as the best cordless 2 -in- 1 combined blower/vacuum.
Greenworks is a leading name in battery-powered tools for use in an outdoor environment.
Their focus is on supplying battery-powered tools that deliver a similar grade of power and performance as their gas-powered equivalent but without the pesky electrical cord.
The #24322 is equipped with a powerful hassle-free push-button start, brushless motor that offers unmatched power, performance, and durability.
There are several advantages to a brushless motor, not least of which is the fact that; they are safer than motors with brushes because they do not create sparks, they are low-maintenance as there is no need to replace brushes and because there is no friction, they do not create so much noise.
Although it’s actual airspeed is not as high as either the B + D BV3100 or the Sun Joe SBJ605E, it’s air power is still very respectable, sitting between the two at 340 CFM.
And weight-wise it is lighter than either of them (obviously because it does not have an on-board mulcher) at only 5.6lbs.
The 4.0Ah rechargeable battery supplied with the #24322, when fully charged, allows you to use the Greenworks cordless leaf mulcher for approximately 21 minutes which equates to collecting 4.5lbs of leaves when in vacuum mode.
Like the Sun Joe SBJ605E the Greenworks ~24322 also has six speed settings to choose from, however, in addition, it has a turbo switch, which can be very handy, for instance, if you get to a patch of particularly wet/stuck leaves on a patio.
As with both the Sun Joe and the Black & Decker models already mentioned, the Greenworks #24322 switches easily between vacuum and blower functionality without any tools.
It also has the added advantage of being fitted with a cushioned over-mold grip, which prevents strain on your hands when using the tool, and a safety gate located at the bottom of the tool, which prevents your hands from reaching into the spinning impeller.
The Greenworks #24322 comes with a four-year warranty and one lithium-ion battery, although more batteries are readily available.
21 minutes runtime (4.5 lbs leaves) per charge
Air speed of 185 mph and Blow power of 340 CFM
4.0Ah battery included
Very Lightweight at 5.6 lbs
Cushioned over-mold grip for comfort
Only compatible with Greenworks batteries
Super Handy 7 HP 212cc Ultra Heavy-Duty Stand Alone Wood Chipper/Shredder/Mulcher
To work alongside the Greenworks #24322 when there is not a convenient electrical power supply, we recommend the ‘Super Handy’ Ultra Heavy Duty Stand Alone Wood Chipper/Shredder/Mulcher.
We’ve chosen the Super Handy because, although it is quite a big step up from the Black & Decker and Sun Joe 3-in-1 Mulchers, if you have a large yard with a lot of leaves then chances are you have tree limbs and off cuts from medium to large-sized shrubs that also need to be dealt with which the Super Handy does with ease.
The brunt behind the power is a 7HP 212cc four-stroke, single-cylinder OHV gas-powered engine delivering 12 Newton Meters.
OHV (overhead valve) engines are renowned for being durable and long-lasting with relatively low running costs, which is exactly what’s needed (along with the odd metal impeller) in a machine that is required to turn 3-inch diameter tree branches into wood chips.
Another design aspect of the Super Handy, which is worthy of praise, is the slanted housing design which is key in minimizing jams, as the pressure on the blades caused by the weight of the branch is reduced by the angle of entry.
The hopper on the top is used to shred leaves, smaller branches & twigs up to ½” thick and has an impressive reduction ratio of 15:1.
The side chute is used for larger size branches up to 3” thick.
At 104 dB, about the same as an orchestra or a heavy truck, it’s not quiet, but then when you consider what it is achieving it’s quite understandable, plus it is not a high pitched noise so, although it is recommended that you wear ear protection, it’s not as annoying as say, the noise that the Sun Joe SBJ 605E (96 dB) makes.
No electricity required
Low Maintenance OHV engine
15:1 mulching ratio
Tackles anything from leaves up to 3” diameter wood branches
Universal tow-bar makes it easy to move
3-year limited warranty
120.7 lbs (note it comes with a tow-bar)
Sun Joe BVM 143-CT Cordless 3 in 1 Leaf Mulcher Shredder
The Sun Joe BVM 143-CT is a combined Leaf Blower/Vacuum/Mulcher like the Black + Decker BV3100 and the Sun Joe BVM 143-CT but with the added benefit of not having a pesky electric cord to deal with!
Being battery powered, as opposed to the other cordless alternative of gas-powered, the BVM 143-CT is pretty much maintenance-free, with no servicing or gas & oil top-ups to contend with. Neither is there a pull cord to master, startup is effortless, just the flick of a switch.
However, despite being cordless, the BVM 143-CT is surprisingly similar in specification to the BV3100 and the SBJ605E. It weighs a manageable 10.7 lbs (inc. the weight of the batteries) and produces very decent airpower of 388 CFM.
The collection bag capacity is 1 bushel, the same as the BV3100, although only half of that of the SBJ605E.
The mulching ratio, admittedly, is rather less than either of the corded models we are looking at, but it will still condense eight bags of leaves down to one!
The motor has five speeds so is more adaptable than the Black + Decker in terms of being able to work both in and around fragile flowers while also being able to tackle patches of ‘stuck’ wet leaves that are inches thick.
It is also ETL approved and has a two-year warranty.
N.B. The batteries are not included with the BVM 143-CT which makes sense, as they can be used in other Snow Joe and Sun Joe products, so you wouldn’t want to be paying for batteries every time you purchased another product.
For two batteries, at the time of typing, it would cost you pretty much the same again as the BVM 143-CT itself.
Wheels on the end of the funnel for ease of use.
388 CFM air power
8:1 Mulching ratio
Quick conversion from blower to vacuum
5 adjustable wind speeds
Full 2-year manufacturer warranty
A few complaints that it is difficult to maneuver due to the weight, despite the wheels on the end of the funnel.
WORX WG430 Foldable Stand-Alone Bladeless Leaf Mulcher
If all you want to do is shred leaves, rather than branches and twigs, then it would be difficult to beat the WORX WG430 as an alternative to the Super Handy in terms of performance and convenience.
The 13 amp 120v~60HZ motor, with the use of its innovative 36 cutting lines, makes mincemeat of 53 gallons (0.2 m³) of leaves per minute with a decent mulching ratio of 11:1.
Not only that but it also boasts a dust-reducing clean air motor cooling system and a large On/Off switch for easy operation.
At 20lbs it is light enough to move around your yard quickly and easily, so it is an excellent choice to use in conjunction with the Greenworks #24322.
Just use the blower to form piles of dry leaves around the yard and then move the mulcher to the piles.
Having said that, it is robust and sturdy so there are no issues with it moving around while in use.
As with all WORX tools it has been designed with cutting edge technology but produced in a cost-effective way (as well as being easy to use and easy to store).
One of its important safety features is that instead of sharp blades it uses a replaceable trimmer line to do the job, the same stuff that’s used on a lightweight weed trimmer, which also acts as a safety feature in households where children may be poking around in the storeroom.
The WG430 features a unique design that enables you to use both paper and plastic bags, which can be placed under the unit to collect the shredded leaves.
Added to that, the 13” loading aperture means that you can easily dump a substantial amount of leaves into the top at one time.
A neat foldaway design means that it takes up very little precious storage room yet is easy to assemble.
The WG430 comes with 24 replacement tines, a universal bag holder, and a three-year manufacturer warranty.
Some lawn care machinery maintenance tips can be found here.
Capable of munching 53 gallons of leaves per minute
Bladeless Flex-a-Line mulching system
Large On/Off switch for easy operation
11:1 mulch ratio
Can be folded into a nice compact shape for storage
Comes with 24 replacement tines, and a universal bag holder
Collection bags not included
Additional Uses of a Leaf Blower/Vacuum.
Keeping your camping site or tent dust, leaf & twig free
Blowing rain (or dew!) and dust off your camping or yard equipment.
Clearing your woman or man cave of saw dust
Clearing a building site of small debris at the end of the day
Keeping roofs and gutters clear of pine needles
Giving the internal area of your boat a speedy once over
Keeping the interior of your work vehicle or 4 x 4 debris free
Clearing your truck’s flatbed of debris
Blowing fresh snow off your car
Blowing away and/or flattening snowdrifts
Keeping your deck/outdoor area dust, dirt & debris free
Blow rain & dew out of the little nooks and crannies in your quad bike or motorbike to guard against rust attacks.
The Best Leaf Mulcher Buying Guide
Whether your aim is to make your own leaf compost for your flower beds, greatly reduce your garden waste volume, or efficiently dispose of the product of a major tree pruning effort, buying a leaf mulcher is a great investment.
However, there are a few factors that should be considered when on the shopping trail for the best leaf mulchers to suit your specific needs.
Types of Leaf Mulchers
So far as power is concerned, there are three different types available — corded, cordless, and gas-powered.
There are also two different styles of leaf mulchers – standalone and handheld models, where the former sits sturdily on the ground, and the latter stays strapped across your shoulder.
Mulchers with a vacuum function can suck the leaves up straight into the mulcher and shoot the mulch into a removable bag.
More heavy-duty mulchers that can break down reasonably sized branches need to have the material fed into them to some degree.
The mulching ratio is one of the biggest factors to consider when buying a leaf mulcher, and most models offer between a 11:1 and 16:1 mulching ratio.
Also referred to as compression ratio, the mulching ratio basically tells you the number of gallons of leaves that the machine in question can break down into one gallon of mulch.
Basically the more powerful the motor, the bigger and tougher the material it can handle.
So for instance, if you only need to mulch leaves and you have a small to medium-sized yard then you don’t need to go to the expense of a stonking big gas-powered machine.
Mulching Blade Design and Quality
The blades of a leaf mulcher perform the mulching function and should be durable, and offer long service life.
Leaf mulcher blades are also referred to as impellers, which can be made from metal or plastic.
As mentioned above, there are also models that use trimmer line as their cutting mechanism.
Collection Bag Capacity
Many leaf mulcher models come with their own bag to collect the mulch.
You should pay attention to the storage capacity of the bag, because the larger the bag, the more leaves you can pack, and the less frequently you will have to empty it.
If you’re going to buy a handheld leaf mulcher, look for a model that is fitted with an ergonomic handle, and a comfortable grip. This will provide you with good control over the mulcher and will reduce fatigue on your hands, especially when working across longer periods.
Some of the best leaf mulchers are multifaceted tools in that they can be used as a vacuum, blower, and mulcher.
But you should ensure that it’s easy to switch between the functions both in terms of a dedicated switch and the changing of any attachments required.
This stands for Cubic Feet per Minute.
When we talk about a CFM rating, we’re describing the Cubic Feet per Minute of air that a fan can move, also known as ‘airflow’.
It is measured by setting said fan at the highest speed setting and recording the volume of air and the rate at which it moves.
In short, the larger the number, the more powerful the blower will be.
If you’re buying a handheld mulcher, make sure it comes with well-padded shoulder straps, so you can carry the tool around comfortably.
Is There a Difference Between Mulch and Compost?
Yes, there is.
But a lot of people confuse the two and call it all mulch.
In reality, mulch is used as a top layer to benefit your garden in several ways, most notably protecting your soil from heat, cold, wind, erosion, and general evaporation…and serving as a weed suppressor by placing on top of weed barrier cloth.
Garden mulch can be organic or inorganic, such as rocks or stones. Organic mulches are generally made from dead leaves, wood chips, bark, seashells, nutshells, and even shredded tires, but basically, things that do not break down very quickly.
Contrarily, compost must be made from organic ingredients such as; leaves, grass, plant clippings, eggshells, and coffee grounds, basically, anything that will decompose relatively quickly so that it can be put on top of or mixed with the soil for the groundwater to leach the nutrients out of it and then plants, trees & shrubs can take said nutrients up through their roots, or in the case of a compost tea liquid, through their leaves if it is used as a spray.
Some organic matter; such as dead leaves and small twigs can be used to make compost or mulch, using a leaf mulcher before putting the leaves into a compost pile will aid the composting process.
If you want to fertilize your flowers, vegetables & shrubs then you need to use your organic matter to make compost.
If you are looking to control weeds, retain soil moisture or control erosion then you need to use it to make mulch.
Even though mulch is referred to as “garden gold”, it can have a few negative effects on your garden when used improperly.
As mentioned earlier, mulch blocks air and sunlight and can prevent weeds and grass seeds from germinating, but on the downside may also prevent your good seeds from germinating.
To allow your good seeds to germinate, it is best to apply mulch after your desired plants turn green.