Despite using high quality machinery for removing the dust from our homes, many of us still bend our backs to remove leaves manually during the fall season. Alternatively, some of us remove the leaves using standard vacuum cleaners, which result in clogging of the tubes. This new year, you can choose to continue with the outdated methods, or shift to a leaf vacuum mulcher. A close cousin of the leaf blower and vacuum cleaner, the mulcher nevertheless has some vital differences which make it important to gather sufficient information on the category in general and also the best products in the market today. To save you the hassle of going through endless product descriptions that promise the moon and sifting the truth from the marketing claims, we’ve provided below vital information about mulchers, buying tips from experts and reviews of top mulchers available in 2016.
Top 5 Best Leaf Vacuum Mulcher Reviews
Black and Decker LSWV36 40V Lithium Ion Sweeper/Vac
Interestingly, this muscle is coupled with sufficient design speciality for the product to be used in odd shaped regions. This design includes a built-in scraper in the blow pipe, which allows the user to clear out leaf mats that have been crated due to rain, etc.
Leaf blower vacuum mulcher: WORX WG509 Electric TriVac
Boasting of a variable speed of 75 to 210 mph, this WORX offering’s 12 amp motor is further enhanced by options like six speed settings and throttle control. This system allows the product to scatter/collect leaves from large areas, as well as remove it slowly from sensitive and narrow regions. Indeed, such versatility extends to the function modification system as well, with vacuum and blowing modes being interchangeable using a simple hardware button.
In addition, two points need to be made about the design – the product comes with a special angled tube having a curved tip, which makes removing leaves from inaccessible areas easier. Secondly, the product’s mulching system is composed of a two stage mechanism – a standard mulching stage followed by a rare impeller mulching mechanism that reduces the leaves to minute pieces with a volume that is 18 times lesser than the original volume of the leaves consumed. Last but not least, the machine carries out all these tasks without raising the noise level above 71 decibels.
Toro 51609 Ultra 12 amp Variable-Speed (up to 235) Electric Leaf Blower/Vacuum with Metal Impeller
Where Toro really shines though is in the hardware – there is a special metal impeller blade in this mulcher too, and for good measure, it has been coated with magnesium. Furthermore, depending on the speed being used, there are two inserts – power insert and concentration insert, which decide the type and speed of leaf mulching/blowing. When added to the “Ultra” blower mechanism and the range of speed options, it becomes clear how this product can achieve a 16:1 leaf volume reduction ratio in a short span of time.
Black & Decker BV5600 High Performance Blower/Vac/Mulcher
Furthermore, it shines in all three modes – the pivoting action turbo nozzle loosens the earth in blowing mode, while the high impact metal fan ensures that vacuum and mulching modes are not hampered by excess soil debris or leaf capacity. Indeed, the product can reduce 16 bags of leaves into one, equalling the capacity of many high end products.
Leaf Blower/Vacuum/Mulcher: WORX WG505 Electric TriVac
In true spirit of a leaf vac mulcher, the product comes with a metal impeller that can turn 16 bags of leaves into one bag of leaf dust. This is coupled with the nice 14 gallon per minute processing capacity of the vacuum system, which ensures that the fine leaf dust is created at a speed that is convenient to your schedule.
What is Leaf Mulcher ?
Leaf vacuum mulcher, as the name suggests, uses vacuum to remove leaves from lawns, patios and other areas. Unlike the ordinary vacuum cleaner that you use to remove debris from your lawn, the mulcher has special blades that slice and dice the leaves into small pieces. These can, depending on the type of leaf mulcher (discussed below), be removed or restored to the lawn to act as fertilizer.
Mulching leaves every fall is vital because of a number of reasons –
- Helps uncover grasses and flower beds, thereby allowing them access to sunlight and pollen.
- Ensures snow/rain during winter falls on the flower beds directly. If snow falls on leaves lying above flower beds, they can suffocate the plants underneath.
- Prevents leaves from turning into a soggy mat come spring rain.
- Prevents growth of crabgrass and dandelions, according to research by MS University.
- If left as mulch in open areas, they decompose and act as mulch.
- Ensure that an unsightly mess of leaves is not created in the lawn.
Despite recognizing the importance of removing leaves and/or mulching them, some garden-owners consider mulchers to be a professional-only appliance. They instead prefer normal vacuum cleaners or leaf blowers without mulching facility. Doing so is tantamount to doing a disservice to your lawn because –
- Ordinary vacuum cleaners cannot remove the leaves because of their typically larger size and presence of hard leaf stems. Using a vacuum cleaner will not only clog the tubing, but can cause worms and bugs to enter the cleaner along with the leaves. This can create a headache later when using the cleaner for cleaning the interior of the house.
- Leaf blowers without mulching attachments/options are usually meant for moving the leaves from one place to another without breaking them down. You will still have to remove the leaves separately, unless you want to be criticized for leaving heaps of leaves around. Further, such removal prevents the lawn from benefiting from the mulch being mowed into the lawn as fertilizer.
Types of Leaf Mulchers
Since leaf mulchers evolved from various other gardening tools, they do not have a standard classification of their own. However, you need to know some broad classifications that set one mulcher apart from another –
Bag or without bag
Standard leaf mulchers – come with a bag or basket in which the mulched leaves are collected, to be thrown away or returned to the soil as the need may be. The bags themselves are carried on the shoulder, or pulled/pushed along with the mulcher itself by means of an extra wheel.
Mulchers without bags – are somewhat cheaper, but they tend to throw the mulched leaves back onto the ground. This is acceptable as long as you begin mulching from the edges of the garden and intend to return the leaves back into the ground, but in other circumstances, it is best to collect the leaf residue together in a bag for easy disposal/dispersal.
Gas or electric
Gas Mulchers – Belonging to the older generation of leaf vacuum mulchers, these products use gas to run the mulcher. The obvious benefit of this is that the mulcher can be carried around regardless of the electric supply situation. Indeed, if you are planning on opening a garden cleaning service and/or have to work in large areas (like orchards), a gas powered leaf vacuum mulcher is a good idea.
The problem however is that the gas mulchers are extremely heavy, and cannot be used in areas of extreme heat. Further, gas mulchers are extremely noisy and can produce smoke if proper maintenance is not carried out.
Electric-supply only Mulchers – Some products need an electric supply instead of gas to work, and this allows them to be quieter and cleaner than gas mulchers. Further, since gas tanks are not needed, the products are lighter and can be moved quickly and stored without fear of gas leaks.
The flipside of these mulchers is that they can only work in the area serviced by the power cord and/or generator
Battery powered mulchers – The most advanced mulchers available, these products come with a small but powerful battery that can be used when the mulcher is out of power cord range. At other times, electric power allows the product to run and the battery to charge simultaneously.
The problem with these mulchers is that they typically come with a high price tag, though with improvement in technology, the prices have come down vis-à-vis the other mulcher categories. Indeed, many of the best blower vac mulcher today are those that come with both electricity-only and battery powered hybrid functional modes.
Tips for Choosing the Best Leaf Vacuum Mulcher
Each person has his/her own garden size, tree composition and time schedule, and these area vital to deciding what type of product will be the Best Leaf Vac Mulcher for him/her. However, as general pointers when going shopping for a mulcher, you should keep in mind –
- Motor specifics – While the best products mentioned above never go below 12 amp motor power, the threshold for acceptable products is 10 amp. Below this speed, it is impossible to obtain a thorough mulching regardless of the overall capacity of the machine to handle leaves.
- Reduction ratio – Reduction ratio refers to the ratio in which the original leaf volume is reduced when passed through the mulcher. Good ratios are in excess of 16:1 , and can go up to 18:1 for top products.
- Speed variations – All of us have garden sections that are filled with nothing but tough grasses, and also parts having delicate plants. Using the leaf vacuum mulcher at full speed in the former makes sense, but can damage the plants in the latter. Variable speeds, which can save these plants from damage is therefore a vital feature of any product. Aim for products with at least 2 genuinely different speed variations.
- Easy mode switching capability – Most modern mulchers also come with leaf blower and vacuum integrated, so it makes sense to be able to shift from one mode to another at short notice. The best products come with a single lever or switch for making this transition.
- Powerful impellers – Though it is not necessary for impellers to be made of metal, it is important for them to be present and be capable of taking high leaf debris impact while chopping the leaves into fine pieces.
- Nozzle/pipe design – The nozzle or pipe (also called tube) of the product should be designed to fit into small spaces without creating a vortex of dust and residue that increases your work. A curved nozzle and a wide tube are the best solutions for the average garden mulcher, though more specialized attachments are always useful.
Mulchers are a varied and somewhat specialized branch of the large family of vacuums and blowing appliances, and as we have seen, their position cannot be supplanted by other products of the family, regardless of the minor similarities that may exist. Given how important proper mulching is for the health of your garden, it is wise not to experiment with anything short of the top lawn mulchers in the market. Our guide has tried to explain in brief the basic tenets of buying a good mulcher, and then how the top products fit into these categories. It is earnestly hoped that this information, when combined with the special circumstances of your garden, can help produce a clean, fertile and flourishing garden through the purchase of the ideal leaf vacuum mulcher.