If you have at least a medium-sized property with a few trees, you know the hassle that falling leaves cause every autumn. Not only do you have to spend an exorbitant amount of time raking them and bagging them, but disposing of them can be troublesome as well.
Just transporting them to a garbage dump is hard enough but if you want to use them as compost, it becomes even more of a problem. Leaf shredders exist to ease your pain when it comes to all of these issues, being able to make leaves more fit for composting or storing, while also helping you clean your yard.
We made this article to help you see the benefits of these machines and help you pick the best leaf shredder for your needs.
Why Buying a Leaf Shredder?
What a leaf shredder does, exactly, is shred leaves into small pieces by using a series of serrated spinning blades or fixed arm hammers powered by a motor using electricity or gas for fuel. The leaves are fed to the machine through an opening on the top of it and are expelled into a receptacle or a detachable bag.
You might be confused as to why you would have to shred your leaves instead of just leaving them there and letting them decompose on their own without you needing to do anything. Well, there are a few reasons.
- The first reason is that this might just kill your plants – whether by depriving them of sunlight or by suffocating them, especially during the winter.
- Leaves also lose plenty of nutrients if just left to decompose on their own and they break down much slower.
- Shredding them into tiny pieces relieves these concerns and makes them useful as compost. This saves you money in the long run since you don’t have to dispose of the leaves or buy compost.
While leaf shredders are helpful in this regard, not just any mulcher will do the job equally well. You have to consider your needs before buying one, so you don’t regret your purchase. To help you, we made a roundup featuring three of the best products on the market and some user feedback on them.
Let’s see how they compare.
Meet the Best Leaf Shredders
The Good: Portable, relatively strong and fast, while being light and durable.
The Bad: Not very safe to use and makes a lot of noise.
The Bottom Line: Ideal for both beginners and pros alike, this product offers a wide host of features for an affordable price.
The Good: Offers a very good mulch ratio and speed for a low price.
The Bad: Made from flimsy materials that can break and clog easily.
The Bottom Line: For its rather low price, a pretty good machine that offers some features that others don’t.
The Good: Low weight and an adjustable mulch ratio make this product stand out.
The Bad: It breaks easily and is expensive for what it offers.
The Bottom Line: Overall, a decent machine but with the downsides it has, it doesn’t seem worth the price.
We can’t cover everything in a simple table, look below for some further details on these products.
All of the Factors Considered
While it might seem that shredders are simple machines at first glance, there’s a surprising amount of complexity under the hood. You need to consider various aspects before buying one if you don’t want to end up with a 150-dollar machine that’s useless to you. Consider your needs and compare them to some of these aspects we will explain here and then make your purchase.
The mulching ratio tells you how efficient the machine is at reducing the amount of space needed to store the leaves you’re putting into it. Expressed in a ratio – like 11:1 – the first number signifies the input and the second one the output. In this case – eleven gallons of leaves turn into one gallon after the machine finishes shredding them.
There are two primary power sources that a mulcher’s motor can draw from – electricity or gas.
Electric mulchers are usually lighter, less powerful and better suited for people with smaller yards. However, they are generally easier to operate and cheaper to power on a long-term basis. They typically use a cord, but battery-powered variants exist, for extra portability.
Gas mulchers are more heavy-duty machines with stronger motors and better specs but are heavier and harder to transport, operate and maintain while also accruing more expenses over time due to gas prices.
The choice depends on your needs and budget.
The capacity of a shredder is expressed in cutting diameter, basically telling you how wide the “mouth” of the machine is. For smaller gardens, mulchers of any capacity will probably do, but if you have a lot of leaves to shred, you should consider a higher capacity product.
The speed of a mulcher is usually expressed in how many gallons of leaves it can mulch per one minute of operation. This is important to know because it tells you how long you will have to work to get through a certain amount of leaves. It’s also good to consider so you can avoid jamming the shredder by feeding it too many leaves at a time.
You don’t want a machine that will break down easily, so this is important to consider. It’s smart to mostly avoid mulchers made of flimsy materials like sheet metal or plastic and stick to thick, steel products, even though they might be heavier. In the long run, it usually pays off.
Plenty of leaf mulchers can have some additional functions that make your job easier. Some have sound-proofing, making them much quieter, some include a leaf blower or vacuum attached to them, and others have wheels for easier movement or can be disassembled on the fly, and so on. There are even models that can double as wood chippers. The range of functions leaf shredders can have is vast.
In-depth Reviews of 3 Leaf Shredders
11:1 Mulching Ratio
Effortlessly able to convert eleven bags full of leaves to just one for easy storage or disposal.
Powerful Clean Motor
The 13-amp electrical motor allows this machine to work at 8,500 RPM easily being able to mulch 53 gallons of leaves per minute of operational time.
With a large mouth and a cutting diameter of 13 inches, this mulcher is easily able to take on a large mass of leaves at a time.
Weighing in at less than 20 pounds, this mulcher is a breeze to move around when compared to similar models while being sturdy and durable at the same time.
Tool-free Assembly & Disassembly
Simple to assemble without tools and disassemble when you’re not using it for easy storage that takes very little space on the shelf.
Who Should Buy This Product
Being easy to operate, assemble and disassemble, the WORX WG430 leaf mulcher is obviously designed with beginners in mind. However, these features and more make it suitable for virtually anyone who owns a small to medium-sized property that needs an easy-to-use mulcher. Even people with large properties who don’t have plenty of trees will find a use for it.
What to Watch Out For
The main problem with this machine is how noisy it is and the fact that it can spit debris around when working. This can be solved by being careful, wearing protective gear and being mindful not to use it in the middle of the night or something like that.
Overall, this is a relatively inexpensive but valuable product offering a lot of great features for beginners and pros alike. The light weight and portability combined with the surprising strength and speed it packs for the affordable price. There are some problems with it, but they are easily solvable, making it a great fit for most users.
16:1 Mulch Ratio
Reducing any waste you put into it to 1/16th of its original size, this machine ensures you’ll have an easy time storing and dumping it.
The 13-am motor allows for mulching at 8000 RPM, making sure the shredder can keep up with whatever you put into it.
Capacity and speed
This mulcher can process up to 55 gallons of leaves per minute of operation, with a 12-inch cutting diameter ensuring that you can feed as many leaves into it as you need.
With only 13.4 lbs of weight, this shredder is super-easy to take anywhere you need it to be.
Wet/dry Leaves Settings
With a particular setting for wet leaves, you don’t have to wait to mulch them anymore for fear of jamming.
Who Should Buy This Product
This shredder is apparently made for people on a budget, as it is among the cheaper products on the market right now and the cheapest in this roundup. That’s not a mark against it, however, as it does its job fairly well, especially considering how small and light it is.
What to Watch Out For
While there is a setting for wet leaves, that doesn’t mean you can just shove them in like they’re dry and expect it not to jam. Be careful when loading them in and it shouldn’t be a problem.
The only significant downside is that it’s made almost entirely out of plastic and it’s quite flimsy, and parts are prone to breaking or cracking after a while.
This is a rather cheap but efficient product that can be used by pretty much anyone and has a handy feature for handling wet materials that most other mulchers on the market don’t have. The only real downside is that it is made of cheap material, but since it’s not made for heavy duty use, you shouldn’t really see any cracks or breaks unless you abuse it. Overall, it’s a good product for the price and recommendable to people who are on a tight budget.
Strong and Safe Motor
Inside the hood is an 8-amp electric motor with a circuit breaker and a reset button providing overload protection.
Light and Portable Design
Weighing only 17 pounds, this mulcher is as light as they get, allowing you to carry it anywhere.
Adjustable Mulching Ratio
From 8:1 up to an incredible 30:1 – you decide! This machine can shred your leaves into absolutely tiny pieces or larger ones, depending on what you need.
The hopper of the machine rotates up to 180 degrees with the use of two pressure knobs, allowing you to tilt it for effortless loading.
Inbuilt Storage Compartment
Includes a small compartment where you can keep anything you need – gloves, bags, safety goggles, and so on.
Who Should Buy This Product
This product is best suited for people who are looking for a rather disposable product that they will use rarely. Still, even for that purpose, I think there are a few better options to consider.
What to Watch Out For
The largest issue with this product is how it’s built – it’s flimsy, difficult to assemble and easy to break. If you are very careful to never get a twig into it with the leaves, it can work, but otherwise, the line that is used for cutting will just break, thus cutting into your work time as well.
While it is a decent product that can offer some functionality and decent strength for its size and weight, it just doesn’t seem worth the asking price in the end. The flimsy construction and the cutting line that constantly needs to be replaced would be significant downsides even if it were half the price it is. Sadly, this is a product that is just not worth it for most people.
The Best Pick – WORX WG430
As you can see, there are more than a few different leaf mulchers on offer right now and it’s no small task to pick just one. There are many things to consider and contrast when coming up with a final decision, and it’s ultimately up to you, your needs and your budget.
However, as far as we are concerned, the clear winner here is the WORX WG430 as the other shredders here don’t really compare to it. It offers great quality for a decent price; it’s strong and rather fast while also being portable and durable. It’s easy for beginners to use, but also having something to offer to the pros. Just a great fit for most people.
While that is the best product in our opinion, that doesn’t mean the others we listed here are without value – in fact they might be just right for you. However they don’t offer the same amount of bang for the buck as the WORX WG430 does, it’s a simple fact.