13 Best Leaf Shredders: Your Buyer’s Guide (Updated!)

Leaf Shredder

123rf.com (Graham Corney)

Anyone who has trees in their yard understands the constant maintenance they require right about the time when the kids head back to school. When the leaves and needles start falling, it can be a major chore to rake, bag, and dispose of them not to mention the havoc that plastic bags wreak on the environment.

But with a leaf shredder, the time it takes to deal with all the piles can be reduced by hours and even days. Keeping your yard clean and clear is made so much easier with one of these portable mulchers. And did you know that shredded leaves can make amazing compost for your garden and flower beds? Plus it’s free!

Our list of best leaf shredders has a solution for you no matter what size of yard you have and no matter how many leaves that drop. They run the gamut between small inexpensive string trimmer units to large wood chippers that will save you some serious time and effort.

What Are The Best Leaf Shredders Available Right Now?

Efcut C30 7HP 212cc Heavy-Duty Mini Wood Chipper Amazon Customer Reviews
  • 20:1 reduction ratio
  • Reliable gas-powered engine
  • Easy grip handle and tough 10-inch wheels
Price: $499.99 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Worx WG430 13 Amp Foldable Electric Leaf Mulcher Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Tool-free assembly
  • Simple start and stop system
  • Three-year warranty
Price: $211.15 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
SuperHandy 7 HP 212cc Mini Wood Chipper Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Extra large hopper
  • Can shred branches up to three inches in diameter
  • 15:1 reduction ratio
Price: $539.99 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
GreatCircleUSA 212cc Heavy-Duty Wood Chipper Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Helpful customer service
  • Easy start motor
  • Makes quick work of branches
Price: $549.99 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Sun Joe SDJ616 13-Amp Electric Leaf Shredder Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Effective thick trimmer line
  • 16:1 leaf to mulch ratio
  • Two-year warranty
Price: $136.33 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Earthwise 15-Amp Electric Garden Chipper/Shredder, Model GS70015 Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Lightweight yet powerful
  • Nice collection bin
  • 2-year warranty
Price: $139.99 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Worx WG509 TRIVAC Electric Leaf Blower Mulcher Vacuum Amazon Customer Reviews
  • 18 bags of leaves mulched down to one
  • Metal shredding blade
  • Collection bag included
Price: $90.30 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Sun Joe SBJ606E 4-In-1 Leaf Shredder Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Surprising quality
  • Quiet operation
  • Inexpensive
Price: $79.53 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Flowtron LE-900 Electric Leaf Shredder Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Quick string replacement action
  • Place directly on top of large trash can
  • Shreds like a beast
Price: $169.99 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Landworks 7HP 212cc Gas-Powered Mini Wood Chipper Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Large hopper
  • 15:1 reduction ratio
  • 7HP 212cc four-stroke engine
Price: $599.99 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Black & Decker BV6000 Blower/Vac/Mulcher Amazon Customer Reviews
  • High quality
  • 16-to-1 reduction ratio
  • Three-in-one lawn care tool
Price: $124.85 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Worx WG518 12 Amp 2-Speed Leaf Blower Mulcher Vacuum Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Metal impeller
  • 16-to-1 reduction ratio
  • 3-in-1 tool versatility
Price: $104.76 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Earthquake K32 Viper 212cc Heavy-Duty Wood Chipper Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Dependable 4-cycle engine
  • Eleven-inch no-flat wheels
  • Compact size and design
Price: $698.59 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Our Unbiased Reviews
  1. 1. Efcut C30 7HP 212cc Heavy-Duty Mini Wood Chipper

    Pros:
    • Chute windows allow monitoring of blade and blockages
    • Mulches leaves and yard debris into fine material
    • Comes with safety gear and a 45-gallon bin
    Cons:
    • It's really expensive
    • Shipped in two separate containers
    • Be sure to fill reservoir with oil before starting

    The Efcut C30 7HP 212cc Heavy-Duty Mini Wood Chipper is a real close copy of the Landworks 7HP 212cc Gas-Powered Mini Wood Chipper; it’s got the same sized-engine and basic features. At first glance, you might think it’s the same thing, just painted orange instead of blue. However, the Efcut C30 improves upon a few things that we’ll detail below.

    This wood chipper shreds branches, limb and yard debris up to three inches in diameter. The reduction ratio is a healthy 20:1 with an elongated top adjustable discharge chute. That ratio is really good for creating your own fine mulch for the flower beds. 

    This wood chipper is powered by a 7HP 212cc 4-stroke single cylinder gas-powered engine. While Efcut doesn’t specifically call this out, ethanol is not recommended to fuel this machine. The engine is about as basic a gas setup as there is with a manual choke, throttle, power switch, gas shut-off, etc. You’ll need to fill the oil reservoir yourself as it’s not shipped with any.

    The feed bin and discharge chute are all metal with a thick coat of paint. Blades are supremely sharp and will whittle down anything you throw at it up to a three-inch diameter. Because of the higher reduction ratio and shredding power of this wood chipper, leaves and brush can be mulched effectively along with sticks and branches. This wood chipper also has another advantage: two convenient check windows, one in the front to check blade status, and one in the back for clearing blockages.

    A nice touch: this wood chipper comes with a 45-gallon nylon collection bin, replacement blade, wrenches, and protective gear in the form of earplugs and safety glasses. That’s cool. Complete with a three-year warranty against machine construction, this Efcut C30 Mini Wood Chipper is a great workhorse for your landscaping.

    VideoVideo related to efcut c30 7hp 212cc heavy-duty mini wood chipper2020-06-24T15:32:52-04:00

  2. 2. Worx WG430 13 Amp Foldable Bladeless Electric Leaf Mulcher

    Pros:
    • Mulches up to 53 gallons of leaves per minute
    • Clean air motor cooling system
    • Bladeless cutting system uses string trimmer line to mulch leaves
    Cons:
    • Collection bag sold separately
    • Included string is a little weak
    • This unit creates significant dust when loading leaves into the chute

    While the Worx WG430 Foldable Electric Leaf Mulcher isn’t a “wood chipper” per se, almost all of the wood chippers I reviewed featured questions from potential users regarding the shredder’s ability to mulch leaves. The answer, almost universally, is no unless the leaves are bone dry which, at least here in the Pacific Northwest where I live, almost never happens. I’ve got two large maple trees that drop an enormous amount of leaves each and every year that never fit into our yard waste container.

    Thank goodness for this little machine; this mulcher will transform eleven bags of leaves and debris into just one using a 13 Amp electric motor. This thing can mulch up to 53 gallons of leaves per minute with a 13-inch cutting diameter. It works (pun intended) by way of a large string trimmer head that whirls around to slash whatever you feed into it. It’s basically a large, string trimmer in reverse.

    The motor spins at 8,500 RPM that will reduce your dead leaves and twigs to 1/11th of its original size. The Worx WG430 Leaf Mulcher features an oversized mouth so, at that speed and power, you can pulverize them into manageable mulch mounds in no time at all. Leaf mulch will increase water retention in the soil, reducing watering time and saving you money.

    At less than 20 pounds, this mulcher features a compact design, in which the disassembled parts nest neatly together for convenient off-season storage on a shelf in your shed or garage. Setup takes only a few minutes, with absolutely no additional tools required. It also features a dust-reducing clean-air motor cooling system. Air and mulched leaves are separated through an external cooling air intake and exhaust to significantly reduce dust generation.

    The Worx WG430 features a universal bag holder that accepts both paper and plastic bags. You may want to take a look at this reusable 26-gallon option from Worx to work with your mulcher. This next fall is going to be entirely different for me and those trees in my yard with this leaf mulcher!

    VideoVideo related to worx wg430 13 amp foldable bladeless electric leaf mulcher2020-06-29T13:00:48-04:00

  3. 3. SuperHandy 7 HP 212cc Mini Wood Chipper

    Pros:
    • Hook it up to the ATV and tow it where you need it
    • 7HP 212cc 4-stroke engine
    • Compact and easy to load or transport
    Cons:
    • Replacement blades may be difficult to find
    • Leaves and foilage are much more work to shred than branches
    • Included blades aren't of the highest quality

    The SuperHandy 7 HP 212cc Mini Wood Chipper design comes with a large hopper for chipping and shredding branches and limbs up to three inches in diameter. The chipper effectively mulches yard debris with a reduction ratio of 15:1 with an elongated top adjustable discharge chute. It is powered by a 7HP 212cc horizontal 4-stroke single-cylinder OHV gas-powered engine best fueled with 87+ unleaded gasoline (Note: ethanol is not recommended with this engine).

    The rotor turns at 3,600 RPM to handle those tree branches easily. Limbs are no problem but understand that this chipper is made for them and not necessarily leaves and brush, especially when they’re wet. The hopper is large enough to get multiple tree trimmings at once to the blades while the discharge chute is adjustable so you can make that pile of mulch where you need it.

    The SuperHandy has the ability to towed with an ATV, riding lawn mower, or small tractor for easy transportation where you need it (Tow Bar Kit sold separately). This wood chipper comes with a three-year limited warranty as well. One final note: make sure that you fill and check the engine oil before use and frequently while using.

  4. 4. GreatCircleUSA 212cc Heavy-Duty Wood Chipper

    Pros:
    • Top hopper for brush and leaves, side three-inch tube for large tree limbs
    • The engine is crazy strong
    • Much quieter than other similar-sized chippers
    Cons:
    • Drawstring collection bag has trouble staying attached to chipper
    • Spark plug cap is directly below hot exhaust shield
    • Many reports of shipping damage

    Here’s the quick review: the GreatCircleUSA 212cc Heavy-Duty Wood Chipper runs great and is a superb size for any yardwork clearing job short of large acreage with downed trees. GreatCircleUSA has effective customer service and although there are reports of wood chipper damage during shipment, they’ve taken care of just about every problem that I read about. This is a tough yard maintenance tool that won’t let you down.

    Okay, here are some more details:

    The GreatCircleUSA 212cc Heavy-Duty Wood Chipper is powered by a reliable recoil-starting 7 HP 212cc horizontal four-stroke single cylinder OHV gas-powered engine that can handle yard debris of up to three inches in diameter with absolutely no problem whatsoever. This machine will immediately mulch rugged branches, limbs, and brush with little to no effort. Reduction ratio is around 15:1 so not too fine, not too chunky.

    This wood chipper has four Y-hammers that destroy branches and two steel chipping blades that truly shred what you feed them. The loading hopper o top is meant for leaves, brush, and small debris; the side chute is for limb chipping of pieces up to three inches. GreatCircleUSA sells a Universal Vacuum Kit (sold separately) for leaf mulching. This kit attaches easily on the backside leaf inlet to suck up leaves and debris with ease (there are also some creative ways I found online to get this done on the cheap with a little DIY ingenuity).

    You can also hook the wood chipper to your own personal ATV or lawn mower/tractor for easy transportation where you need it with this Tow Bar Kit (also sold separately). The chipper comes with a discharge bag for wood chips and mulch collection however it uses a drawstring closure making it difficult to secure.

    The GreatCircleUSA 212cc Heavy-Duty Wood Chipper comes with a three-year limited warranty and the dedicated customer support team will back that up. This is the third chipper that I’ve reviewed that doesn’t come with oil already added to the motor so I guess that’s the standard with gas-powered machines; remember to check and add before use.

  5. 5. Sun Joe SDJ616 13-Amp Electric Leaf Shredder

    Pros:
    • Produces less dust than other mulchers
    • Excellent bag to housing connection
    • Works well with wet and dry leaves
    Cons:
    • Feed mouth is narrower than other similar models
    • Leg locks are a little weak
    • Trimmer line can be difficult to remove for replacement

    Are you ready to get shredded? With the Sun Joe SDJ616 13-Amp Electric Leaf Shredder, you’ll be able to turn all those piles of leaves into nutrient-rich mulch for your flower beds and gardens. This shredder’s 16:1 leaf to mulch ratio will greatly reduce the space those dead leaves take up.

    Simply dump handfuls of leaves into the wide 19-inch hopper and watch the powerful 13-amp motor and string trimmer mulching system slice them up into fine particles in nothing flat with 8,000 RPM efficiency. With its 12-inch cutting diameter, the Sun Joe SDJ616 safely and efficiently mulches up to 55 gallons of leaves per minute.

    This leaf shredder features an advanced motor cooling system that diverts air from the shredded leaves to reduce the amount of dust taken into the housing. It’s lightweight, compact, and easily portable. Plus, there are adjustable settings for wet or dry yard waste including leaves, thatch, grass clippings, and (hallelujah!) pine needles. It assembles in minutes so you can get right to work.

    VideoVideo related to sun joe sdj616 13-amp electric leaf shredder2019-04-24T16:54:00-04:00

  6. 6. Earthwise GS70015 15 Amp Corded Electric Chipper

    Pros:
    • Included tamping tool for safety
    • 15 Amp motor good for branches up to 1.75 inches
    • Shreds finer than other similar electric chippers
    Cons:
    • Light yardwork use only
    • Will handle leaves but it's going to take a long time
    • You'll be tethered to an extension cord

    With a 15 Amp electric motor and the ability to chop up material up to 1-3/4-inches thick, the Earthwise GS70015 15 Amp Corded Electric Chipper is a great little wood chipper for home landscaping use. For light to medium-duty around your yard, this machine is fairly adept at keeping up with whatever slash piles you might have to shred. A tamper tool is wisely included to keep hands free from the feed chute. 

    Surprisingly, it also handles leaves pretty well however because of the small chute opening you may have trouble feeding them efficiently. This wood chipper comes with a nice 1.2 bushel collection bin made of plastic. Once you’re finished chipping, the bin works well to distribute material around the garden or to the disposal can.

    This features overload protection with a reset switch and durable back wheels for easy transport. This is a convenient and easy-to-use machine that can make quick work of any cleanup job in your yard.

    VideoVideo related to earthwise gs70015 15 amp corded electric chipper2020-06-24T14:27:43-04:00

  7. 7. Worx TRIVAC 3-In-1 Corded Leaf Blower Mulcher Vacuum

    Pros:
    • Switches between blower to vacuum and back with just a turn of a dial
    • Operates from 75 MPH for pavement on up to 210 MPH for open lawn
    • Tube angles at tip to get under fixtures and landscaping
    Cons:
    • No shoulder strap
    • Wet material tough to mulch effectively
    • Taller people may have to stoop while using

    The Worx TRIVAC 3-In-1 Corded Leaf Blower/Mulcher/Vacuum is an innovative yard care tool that combines three jobs into one machine. It features an all-metal shredder blade that effortlessly mulches piles of leaves so that you can potentially get 18 bags of leaves into one. It’s lightweight, compact, and has no attachments or tools to switch to get from blowing leaves to vacuuming them up. Simply turn the dial and you’re on your way.

    The Worx TRIVAC features a 12 Amp electric motor that delivers the power of a gas-powered engine while remaining ergonomic enough to operate with one hand. The angled nose and comfort grip handle will save time and make your yard cleanup a lot easier. In vacuum mode, the tube design provides 350 CFM (Cubic Feet per Minute) of suction power even when reaching under decks and patio furniture. The airspeed in blower mode can be adjusted from 75 to 210 MPH depending on what power you need.

    A quick tube release makes cleaning a breeze. When you’re ready to empty the included 10-gallon collection bag, hit the quick-release button to open up the unit. Best of all, there is no downtime with the TRIVAC; blow the leaves into a pile, vac and mulch them, then dump out the bag for compost or collection.

    VideoVideo related to worx trivac 3-in-1 corded leaf blower mulcher vacuum2020-06-22T16:29:11-04:00

  8. 8. Sun Joe SBJ606E 4-In-1 Leaf Shredder

    Pros:
    • Includes gutter cleaning kit
    • Small, compact, and powerful
    • Two-year warranty
    Cons:
    • Difficult to clean mulching turbine
    • Sucks up leaves just fine but small sticks or acorns will give you trouble
    • Heavier than other portable units

    Are you ready to make some light work out of those leaves all over your yard? The Sun Joe SBJ606E 4-In-1 Leaf Shredder will make you forget about any complaints you used to make when raking in the past.  This little electric unit packs a lot of power into a shredder that makes clean up work fun, quick, and easy.

    The interchangeable tube design converts the SJB6060E from a 250 MPH blower to a mulcher that provides a 16:1 reduction ratio. It offers an instant-start electric motor that is clean, quiet, and effective. The Sun Joe includes a ready-to-use 12-gallon reusable bag and an 18-gallon spare replacement bag.

    Wait, you say. You said four in one. That’s right, friend: the SBJ606E also comes with a gutter cleaning kit. Simply attach the sturdy PVC tubes to the blower to extend the reach up to 15-feet to blow those gutters clean. With two speed settings to guide your progress through different areas of your landscape, the Sun Joe SBJ606E 4-In-1 Leaf Shredder makes yardwork something you might look forward to.

    VideoVideo related to sun joe sbj606e 4-in-1 leaf shredder2020-09-11T16:30:18-04:00

  9. 9. Flowtron LE-900 Electric Leaf Shredder

    Pros:
    • Quick mulching action
    • Excellent shredding ability
    • Easy to use
    Cons:
    • Difficult to assemble
    • Messy and loud
    • Takes up more storage space than other shredders

    The Flowtron LE-900 Electric Leaf Shredder is an excellent shredder that really does just one thing: slice up your leaves into fine mulch. It can handle pine needles like a monster but watch that you separate out larger sticks and pinecones. The LE-900 works well using the included stand to mulch right where you need it or you place it directly on top of a trash can. The ability to firmly attach plastic trash bags underneath is also a nice touch.

    This shredder weighs around 17 pounds which isn’t the lightest of the shredders on our list but isn’t the heaviest, either. The operation couldn’t be simpler: place where you want it, plug it in, and begin throwing debris into the chute. That’s it. The Flowtron is a rugged machine with a funnel and housing made of high-density polyethylene with the capacity to reduce 11 bags of leaves to one.

    The Flowtron uses a patented double cutting line design for more reliable and effective mulching. The mulching level may be adjusted between needles, leaves, and clippings so the shredder keeps up for what you need it to. 

     

     

  10. 10. Landworks 7HP 212cc Gas-Powered Mini Wood Chipper

    Pros:
    • Chips branches up to three inches in diameter
    • Large 10-inch wheels and the ability to tow make transport easy
    • Economical solution for medium-duty chipping needs
    Cons:
    • Auto feed of branches can stall motor
    • Wheels are hard plastic and sort of cheap
    • Make sure you fill the oil reservoir; not included

    The Landworks 7HP 212cc Gas-Powered Mini Wood Chipper features the ability to chip and shred branches, limb, and yard debris up to three inches in diameter. The reduction ratio is 15:1 with an elongated top adjustable discharge chute. Not bad for this small of a unit.

    This wood chipper is powered by a 7HP 212cc 4-stroke single cylinder gas-powered engine. Keep in mind that ethanol is not recommended for this machine. The engine is about as basic a gas setup as there is with a manual choke, throttle, power switch, gas shut-off, etc. You’ll need to fill the oil reservoir yourself as it’s not shipped with any oil.

    This wood chipper is a solid performer. The feed bin and discharge chute are all metal with a thick coat of paint. Blades are supremely sharp and will whittle down anything you throw at it up to a three-inch diameter. Leaves and brush aren’t mulched as effectively as dry, seasoned sticks and branches. The motor also has a problem stalling if branches are simply thrown in the feed bin; this is resolved when they are gently fed.

    The Landworks Mini Wood Chipper features a handle and 10-inch hard plastic wheels for portability. A tow bar kit is available (sold separately) so you can hook it up to an ATV or small lawn mower or tractor and take the wood chipper where you need it. 

    This wood chipper comes with a three-year limited warranty and Landworks features a no-hassle customer service department. The Landworks 7HP 212cc Gas-Powered Mini Wood Chipper is a great little shredder to use around your yard and acreage.

  11. 11. Black & Decker BV6000 Blower/Vac/Mulcher

    Pros:
    • Inexpensive
    • High-impact metal fan
    • Two speed selections
    Cons:
    • Don't trip on the extension cord
    • Speed isn't variable
    • Wet leaves will clog vacuum tube

    The Black+Decker BV6000 Blower/Vac/Mulcher offers up three tools in one to manage all those leaves you must clean up before the snow hits. This leaf mulcher features a 250 MPH blower that plows through leaves and debris with ease. The high-impact metal fan prevents clogging while you’re mulching and is capable of grinding up to 16 bags of mulch down to just one.

    There are two speed selections; one for flower beds and one powerful enough for thick matted leaves. The 12 Amp motor gives some giddy-up and go to power the blower, vacuum, and mulcher so you can get that yard cleaned up. Changing between vacuum and blower settings happens in seconds with no tools to worry about.

    The reusable leaf bag design saves time and effort and is ideal for clearing driveways, sidewalks, decks, and garages of everything falling down from the trees. The vacuum is heavy-duty and great for vacuuming leaves, grass clippings, twigs, and pine needles. The BV6000 comes with the BV5600 Motor Head, a diffuser for use with disposable bags, a detachable shoulder strap, concentrator, blow tube, vacuum tube, and the reusable bag assembly. 

  12. 12. Worx WG518 12 Amp 2-Speed Leaf Blower Mulcher Vacuum

    Pros:
    • Lightweight and easy to manage
    • Includes all pieces and components to effectively blow and vacuum leaves and debris
    • 400 CFM air force at 250 MPH
    Cons:
    • Tubes have been reported to loosen after some use
    • Extension cord limits travel range
    • Good but not great power rating

    The Worx WG518 12 Amp 2-Speed Leaf Blower Mulcher Vacuum provides three essential yard clean up tools in one handy, lightweight device. A powerful metal impeller provides the ability to munch leaves at a reduction ratio of 16 to 1. Imagine the contents of 16 full leaf bags fitting into just one!

    It only one flick of the switch to convert from leaf blowing to leaf vacuuming. Two speeds to address light or heavy-duty work adds some genuine versatility to your landscaping job. The blower features an approximate 400 cubic feet per minute air force at a maximum of 250 MPH to clear your deck, sidewalk, or patio quickly and easily.

    The Worx WG518 comes with a tapered air tube for leaf blowing and a large vacuum tube with a collection bag. Easy power from any 110V outlet will have you going as long as you want. Simple to put together, operate, and manage, the Worx WG518 will help you out to get your yard cleared in no time at all.

  13. 13. Earthquake K32 Viper 212cc Heavy-Duty Wood Chipper

    Pros:
    • Includes rugged debris collection bag
    • Five-year limited warranty
    • Features branch hopper and debris chute
    Cons:
    • Like other shredders, it doesn't handle wet leaves very well
    • Difficult assembly because of unclear instructions
    • Branch hopper opening is small and can't handle forked branches

    The Earthquake K32 Viper Heavy-Duty Wood Chipper features a compact, portable design and is ideal for turning your trimmed and fallen tree branches into nutritious mulch for your beds. The handlebar is angled such that the center of gravity is directly above the wheels for stability during transport. Storing it away until needed doesn’t take up much space in the garage because of the compact footprint.

    The 11-inch wheels on the Earthquake are large enough to tackle ruts and grooves on your way to the worksite however the wheels are the no-flat variety so transport may be a lot bumpier. The hopper is made of steel and designed to feed plant matter into the grinding chamber without much fuss. It should withstand the bangs and bumps that will result from large limbs.

    The tri and j-hammers in the grinding chamber should reduce the size of the resulting mulch drastically. This chipper is strong enough to power through branches as large as three inches around as well as leaves and twigs. Many chipper shredders don’t include a debris bag but the Earthquake does and with features such as a bottom zipper, rugged fabric carrying handles, and a docking bag connector that allows secure connection securely and quick removal.

    The Earthquake K32 Viper Heavy-Duty Wood Chipper is a solid machine that will make your yard clean-up a lot more fun. If you want to make things even easier, consider this universal leaf vacuum kit to suck everything up at the end of your chipping run.

Are Leaf Shredders Worth It? 

The short answer is that leaf shredders are definitely worth it. Any yard with trees is going to be littered with leaves at some point during the year. Raking, bagging, and disposing of leaves is a major chore. These mulching machines will save you time and hassle every single year. 

If you dispose of the leaves at your local landfill or county composting center, this can be a huge problem even if you own a pickup or truck. Bagging leaves is definitely not a fun job and it’s wasteful when using plastic bags.

If you compost, bravo to you! Composting at home is a great solution to waste and a real boon to your plants. However, whole leaves take up an enormous amount of space. There’s not much chance anyone has a compost bin large enough to hold leaves from just one tree.

Leaf shredders and mulchers turn enormous piles of leaves and needles into a fraction of their original size, decreasing it by as much as a ratio of 16 to 1. Mulchers make the leaves more ready for composting by increasing the surface area of the leaves. That makes things easier for beneficial microorganisms to digest the material and turn it all into rich compost that can be tilled back into your soil.

How Does A Leaf Shredder Work?

Leaf shredders can take one of three types: electric, gasoline, or handheld.

Electric shredders use string trimmer lines, much like weed eaters, to rip apart the leaves. Thick plastic strings spin at a high speed around a central motor housing to chop the leaves into small pieces. This type of shredder works best on dry, brittle leaves. 

A couple of drawbacks with electric mulchers is that you’ll need an electric outlet to plug into. If portability is necessary, this type of shredder may not work for you. Also be careful not to toss sticks, pinecones, or rocks into the hopper, or else you’ll break the strings fairly easily.

Gas-powered shredders use heavy-duty metal blades and grinding plates to tear material apart. Another name for these sorts of mulchers is wood chipper. These can usually handle large sticks and branches, anywhere from one to three inches in diameter.

They’re big and bad and can handle most anything however they’re also typically large in size and they can get expensive. If you have a forest in your backyard, a gas-powered mulcher might be worth it to you.

Both electric and gas-powered mulchers are stationary with a chute, also called a hopper, on top of the unit where the leaves and debris are deposited. Some models come packaged with a bag or bin to catch the fragments or will feature a way to secure a paper or plastic bag for collection. Larger gas units will feature an output chute that will spray the resulting mulch wherever you want it.

Handheld shredders are combination tools that feature a leaf blower, leaf vacuum and leaf shredder in one. These utilize a metal impeller which looks much like a fan blade but with a solid back. When the tool is in vacuum mode, the impeller spins and mulches the leaves as they pass through the channel and into a collection bag or bin. 

If you truly hate raking (who doesn’t?), consider picking up one of these. They come in corded and cordless varieties. Keep in mind that they’re usually reserved for smaller yards, smaller piles, and shorter work periods. If you have loads of trees, a handheld shredder probably won’t work for you.

Handheld shredders strap on to your back or feature a shoulder strap and have a collection bag that will catch the shredded leaves. With these models, you either walk around the property vacuuming up the leaves as you go or you can blow them into a big pile and then vacuum them all up at once. 

Do You Have to Shred Leaves for Compost?

If you wish to make good compost, then shredding your leaves should be mandatory on your fall to-do list. Whole leaves will eventually decay and turn into compost for your beds however breaking down leaves into tiny bits will speed up the process exponentially. As the microorganisms feed and divide, smaller chunks of debris will quicken their ability to turn your yard waste into nutrient-rich compost.

What kind of leaves you have for shredding will determine whether they’re good for your compost pile. Maple, birch, ash, beech, cherry, and any sort of fruit and nut trees are excellent choices for turning into fertilizer. They decompose quickly and provide a balanced nutrient mix.

Trees with tough, waxy leaves (I’m looking at you, magnolia tree) will eventually break down but it may take years. Oak leaves are acidic and should only be used in combination with other tree leaves up to 20 percent. Black walnut and eucalyptus leaves contain natural herbicides that may prevent seeds for germinating so be careful with these.

A good rule of thumb when shredding and composting your leaves and other mulch is a five to one ratio between brown material (leaves) and green (fresh lawn clippings and plant material). Compost piles require oxygen which can be introduced when turning over your pile every few days. 

They also need moisture and nitrogen which comes from that green portion of the pile and can take the form of vegetable scraps, coffee grounds, and eggshells. If you have farm animals such as chickens, horses, cows, or even rabbits, their manure can quickly accelerate the decomposition process...just plug your nose and let nature do her thing. By the way, keep your average pet droppings out of your bin.

There is one more factor to consider while planning your fall yard care: many species of beneficial moths, including beautiful Luna moths and Promethea moths, build their cocoons inside of fallen leaves. This means that the piles of leaves you rake, and potentially shred, could contain moth caterpillars wintering inside of the leaf rubble. 

It is definitely possible to learn to identify moth cocoons among the fallen leaves and to save them if you wish. Another option is to set aside some of your fallen leaves to use as a ground cover around trees, shrubs, or temperature-sensitive garden areas. This will give the moths a chance to survive the winter while protecting your plants much like standard mulch would.

See Also: 

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