The 7 Best Leaf Mulchers of 2021

Clean up the leaves in your yard while also creating a great compost for your garden.

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Leaves are some of the most underutilized resources in the backyard. You can use them as organic mulch, compost, and cover for your plants and garden beds, saving you a lot of time and money over time. Having a good leaf mulcher is the key to making this possible. 

When you have fallen leaves in the garden, one way to take care of them is by bagging them up and putting them out as yard waste. A more eco-friendly way to take care of them is to put them back into your own yard and garden. Yet, this can take up a lot of space and be slow to break down in your flower beds. By shredding and mulching the leaves instead, you can save a lot of space. Plus, it’ll make it easier for the material to break down in the garden soil or your compost bin.

Here are several of the best leaf mulchers—all electric—to help you take care of those leaves and create a more eco-friendly backyard.

The Rundown
This garden shredder is compact enough to move around your yard at ease, yet it’s sturdy enough to handle whatever you throw in.
If you're mostly mulching leaves and are looking for an affordable option, you can't go wrong with this Black+Decker model.
With just the flip of a switch, this blower will convert to a vacuum and mulcher.
This 9-pound unit is just 18 inches long, but it packs a powerful punch.
Just slip this on and get to work — the backpack collection bag can hold up to 55 liters of mulched debris.
Without having to worry about a cord, you’ll be able to get into all those hard-to-reach places in your yard with this machine.
If you love cordless, then this is definitely worth a splurge.

Best Overall: PowerSmart Wood Chipper

PowerSmart Wood Chipper

This 15-amp garden shredder is compact enough to move around your yard at ease. Yet it’s sturdy enough to handle leaves, grass clippings, twigs, sticks, and other garden foliage. While it’s not meant to take on large branches or materials, it’s the perfect size for home gardeners.

It also has overload and safety features, so it will automatically power off if needed. Easily move it around on its 6-inch wheels, allowing you to mulch at the exact spot where you’ll be adding compost or cover to your garden beds. Each year, you’ll want to sharpen your blades. This will help the unit perform and last for years.

Best Budget: Black + Decker 3-in-1 Electric Leaf Blower, Leaf Vacuum, Mulcher BV3100

Black + Decker 3-in-1 Electric Leaf Blower, Leaf Vacuum, Mulcher BV3100

If you're mostly mulching leaves and are looking for an affordable option, Black+Decker has several good options on the market, including this 12-AMP model. It can work as a blower, vacuum, and mulcher, reaching air speeds up to 210 MPH. It’s only about 20 inches long, so it’ll be easy to store in your garage or shed.

Overall, mulching can help you bring your waste from about 10 bags filled with leaves down to just one, which is called a mulch ratio.

Best Blower: Sun Joe SBJ606E-GA-SJG 4-in-1 Electric Blower

Sun Joe SBJ606E-GA-SJG 4-in-1 Electric Blower

This 14-AMP blower can reach speeds of roughly 250 MPH. Then with the flip of a switch, it will convert to a vacuum and mulcher. One of the best parts of this leaf mulcher is that it comes with a gutter attachment, allowing you to reach up to 15 feet. This will come in handy in fall, helping you to keep your gutters free from clutter as you head into colder months.

This unit has six different wind speeds, and it comes with an 18-gallon vacuum bag to easily capture your fresh mulch. It’s truly one of the best all-around, affordable options on the market.

Best Lightweight: LawnMaster BV1210E 1201 Electric Blower Vacuum Mulcher

LawnMaster BV1210E 1201 Electric Blower Vacuum Mulcher

This 9-pound unit is just 18 inches long, but it packs a powerful punch. The 12-AMP motor can reach wind speeds of 240 MPG. You don’t have to worry about getting tired with this unit. At the end of the tube, there are roller wheels so you can just roll along the sidewalk or ground, picking up leaves as you go.

The mulcher comes with a 15-gallon collection bag. Just fill it up, and then pour out your new mulch wherever you need it. It can get through a lot—the two-stage metal impeller will break down material to a 16:1 mulch ratio.

Best Backpack: Craftsman CMEBL7000 Leaf Blower

Craftsman CMEBL7000 Leaf Blower

Do you prefer working with a backpack? Just slip this on and get to work—the backpack collection bag can hold up to 55 liters of mulched debris. The 12-amp motor can reach a speed of up to 260 MPH as a vacuum and up to 450 cubic feet per minute. It’s a pretty light option overall, coming in right around 12 pounds. With the backpack design, you can easily blow or mulch all the leaves in your yard.

Best Cordless: Sun Joe iONBV-XR-RM 40-Volt iONMAX Cordless 3-in-1 Blower Vacuum Mulcher Kit

Sun Joe iONBV-XR-RM 40-Volt iONMAX Cordless 3-in-1 Blower Vacuum Mulcher Kit

Prefer not to have a cord following you around as you work? If so, consider this cordless model, which comes with a 40-volt Lithium-Ion battery. As a blower, you can choose from six different wind speeds, reaching up to 200 mph. Then easily switch it to vacuum or mulching mode, which can collect in the included 16-gallon bag.

It includes accessories like a blower concentrator nozzle and a gutter cleaning attachment. Without having to worry about a cord, you’ll be able to get into all those hard-to-reach places in your yard. The manufacturer, Sun Joe, also has excellent customer service if you need to contact them regarding your unit.

Best Splurge: Worx WG583 40V Power Share 4.0Ah Cordless Leaf Blower/Vac/Mulcher

Worx WG583 40V Power Share 4.0Ah Cordless Leaf Blower/Vac/Mulcher

Here’s another cordless 3-in-1 option (blower, vacuum, mulch) that truly has it all. It comes with a blower tube, wheeled mulch tube, a collection bag, two 20-volt batteries, and a dual port quick charger. It weighs less than 9 pounds as a blower and less than 12 as a vacuum and mulcher, making it one of the lighter options on the market.

It breaks material down to roughly a 12:1 mulch ratio, creating a lot of great organic matter for your garden. You’ll love the ease of moving this lightweight design. If you love cordless, then this is definitely worth a splurge.

Final Verdict

Our top pick for a stand-alone mulching unit that you can move around the yard is the PowerSmart Electric Garden Shredder (view at Amazon). If you’re on a budget, go for the BLACK+DECKER 3-in-1 Electric Leaf Blower (view at Amazon). Or if you need cordless, try the Sun Joe Cordless Blower/Vacuum/Mulcher (view at Amazon).

What to Consider When Shopping for a Leaf Mulcher

Power Source 

Nearly all leaf mulchers are going to fall into one of three categories—gas, plug-in electric, and battery-powered. If you want to be eco-friendly, eliminate the gas-powered options, even though they’ll often advertise being more powerful. You can still find plenty of plug-in and battery units that are perfect for most backyard needs. With the electric options, do pay attention to the number of amps for the motor. This is an easy way to understand the level of power. 

Size 

It doesn’t seem like carrying around mulcher for a while outside would be tiring or make you sore, but if the unit is heavy or big, it certainly can. Look for the overall size and weight of the unit (both as a blower and as a vacuum) so you can get an idea of what you’ll be carrying around. If it is a heavier or bigger unit, make sure it has a backpack, harness, or other support. Your back will thank you! 

Accessories

Many leaf mulchers come with accessories, including extensions to make it easier to get to those hard-to-reach spots or wheels to make moving it easier. Even if your mulcher doesn’t come with many accessories, some brands will have affordable add-ons so you can be sure it’s compatible. This can be really nice to have, so check for this while shopping. 

Mulch Ratio 

Most leaf mulchers will list the mulch ratio. Essentially, this helps you understand how finely the mulcher will break down the materials. For instance, a 15:1 ratio versus a 10:1 ratio means the 15:1 will break it down a lot smaller and finer. This might not matter to you that much, after all, a 10:1 ratio is pretty great! But it’s just something to keep in mind, especially if you have a lot of leaves or materials to get through or want to make sure the end product fits into a more compact compost bin. 

FAQs

What’s the difference between a leaf blower and a leaf mulcher? 

You can find a lot of different blowers on the market. These basically have a single function where they blow leaves anywhere you want, making it easy for collection. Leaf mulchers will have a functionality much like a vacuum that sucks up the leaves into a compartment while shredding them at the same time. They can look the same, so make sure you don’t buy a blower, thinking it has mulching functions when it really doesn’t. 

Do leaf munchers work on pine needles?

Yes. Nearly all leaf mulchers can also take pine needles. Much like the leaves, they’ll break down into mulch. This can be used in your compost bin or in the garden. 

Are mulched leaves good for compost? 

If you have a compost bin, you probably know that you should have a good mixture of “green” to brown” material, about a 2:1 ratio. Mulched leaves are perfect for your brown material. However, when adding mulched items to your compost, keep one thing in mind. Never add leaves that you suspect are diseased in any way. This can negatively affect your compost and soil. 

How do you decide between a leaf mulcher and a wood chipper? 

It really depends on the material you want to break down. If you live in an area where you’re dealing with a lot of leaves and not much else, stick to the leaf mulcher. It will do a great job, and you might be able to save some money overall.

If you have a lot of sticks or large branches around that you need to clean up, you probably need a wood chipper that can take on a bigger job, but many chippers don't handle leaves well.

Why Trust Treehugger?

Treehugger is always on the lookout for items to help you be more eco-friendly in the backyard. The author, Stacy Tornio, has been mulching leaves for years. She loves this free mulch, and so do her plants!