A best leaf vacuum shredder refers to mechanical units that combine the functions of vacuum, blowing and chopping and shredding of leaves into fine pieces that can then be disposed off conveniently or reused as compost or mulch. Due to these abilities, shredders are increasingly replacing older gardening tools like lawn mowers. Mowers, while capable of crushing and pushing the leaves into the soil, find it difficult to handle hardy leaves, small branches and other debris. Instead, they push such solid and heavy debris into the soil, blocking pores and retarding growth of grass and plants. Shredders however pick up and/or blow away the leaves to a convenient location, thus freeing the soil stratum. Once the shredder has completed its job, the mulch so created can then be reapplied selectively and furthermore, combined with bark and nitrogenous fertilizers to produce high quality compost. Thus, shredders remove unwanted leaf debris and cut compost costs substantially.
Now, while all shredders would do the bare minimum outlined above, the speed, efficiency, range and input costs vary tremendously depending on the quality and the applicability of the product. To make your search easier, we’ve carefully studied the market and have provided short reviews of three top products before discussing what you should expect before buying a leaf shredder.
Top 3 Leaf Vacuum Shredders
Toro 51617 Rake and Vac 3-in-1 Machine, Includes Blower/Vacuum/Leaf Shredder
Among the most compact leaf vacuum shredders in the market, this Toro offering comes with a choice of two speeds that allows users to achieve maximum efficiency both when working in open spaces and cramped ones. With the higher speed setting, achieving speeds of up to 210mph and the inbuilt shredder being one of the most efficient metal constructs in the market, this unit takes very little time to reduce as much as 8 bags of leaves into one bag of shredded mulch. This mulch is stored in a large Toro bag that is included in the package, ready to be dispersed in the garden or disposed off.
Topping off the list of convenience features is a quick release latch that allows for easy conversion of the unit from blower to vac and back again without affecting the efficiency or durability of the unit in any manner.Read Customer Reviews on Amazon
Toro 51602 Super Two-Speed (up to 230) Electric Blower/Vacuum/Leaf Shredder
Offering a somewhat more powerful motor with a maximum speed of 230mph, the 51602 leaf vacuum shredder is nevertheless as compact as its fellow Toro competitor. Another similarity is the two-speed setting, which however, has been further enhanced by the availability of two different tubes. Regardless of whether you’re creating wind rows and piles with the power insert or drawing out debris from tight areas using the concentrator tube, the unit’s efficiency remains the same, allowing you to reduce up to 10 bags of leaves into a single Toro bag of mulch.
The quick release latch finds pride of place in this unit as well alongside the somewhat rarer cord lock mechanism that prevents the power cord from developing slack and impeding operations.Read Customer Reviews on Amazon
Patriot Products CSV-2515 14 Amp Electric Wood Chipper/Leaf Shredder
Rated a “Best Buy” by the Consumers Digest Magazine, this product comes with a large receptacle through which leaves and even medium branches can be fed without fear of clogging. Once the material has been fed into the product, the unit chops it into fine pieces. Branches are cut into fine discs while the leaves are turned into a fine mulch that collects in the accompanying container. Interestingly, such heavy operation produces only minimal sound and furthermore, is completed in a short period of time.
Complementing such efficiency is convenience – the unit is one of the few that support extension cords of up to 100ft in length. Paired with a long handle and large wheels, this feature ensures that the unit can be operated virtually anywhere in the average garden.
What to Expect Before Buying the Best Leaf Vacuum Shredder
Shredders are extremely versatile units that require minimal considerations prior to purchase and operate. However, in order to obtain the best product and prepare your home for its reception, some points need to be considered well in advance –
1. The size of garden/lawn – Most shredders are made for homeowners living in suburbs. Suburban homes come with lawns that can easily be covered with a 200-220mph unit in an hour or so. If you live in a rural area and have a home with substantially larger areas, you should consider units with speeds of 230mph or higher.
2. Complexity of the garden/lawn – Most gardens/lawns are divided into a central open area covered by grass and seeds and intercrossing rows with plants and/or trees. If your garden has only one of the two types of landscaping, you can go in for a single-speed unit. Ideally, this speed would be higher for an open area and lower for more complex or cramped ones.
In many cases, however, you would have to go in for a two-speed shredder that caters to both the open areas and cramped/planted ones. In such cases, it is vital that the lower speed setting be low enough to ensure the debris is not scattered, yet high enough to allow such debris to be pushed out of difficult areas.
3. Weight and size of the unit – Notice whether you’re comfortable using a handheld unit or one that is drawn on a trolley or even a stationary unit with a movable tube/hose. Handheld units should never be heavier than 15 pounds or they should come with a shoulder strap to distribute the weight evenly. Further, size is also a factor as it would be difficult to work in cramped areas like flower beds if the product is too big.
For trolley-mounted units, the weight should not be greater than 100 pounds. Though they can afford to be bulky, it is always ideal to have products with a smaller footprint.
4. Leaves to mulch ratio – Mulch or the shredded leaf mass should always be about 1/8th of the original leaf mass. This is difficult to measure out in real terms as the original leaf mass is not easily measurable. A good rule of thumb then is to consider the number of times the bag has to be emptied while cleaning out the garden. Average gardens with leaf:mulch ratios of 8:1 to 10:1 should not require more than 2 bags even at the height of autumn.
5. Tube design and accessories – Before buying the unit, expect to spend some time researching the design of the tube and the accessories provided. Most products will come with a tapered tube that makes it easier to draw in leaves quickly. However, if your home has a lot of branches and other large debris, a cylindrical tube is ideal.
Accessories include special attachments for handling narrow spaces and/or larger areas. Ensure that the accessories provided match the requirements of your garden/lawn as most products do not come with spare accessories or ones different from those sold as part of the package.
Removing leaves from one’s garden is hardly the most pleasant task in the world, and hence, it is easy to purchase a leaf vacuum shredder as an afterthought. However, as noted above, the list of points to notice before purchasing the unit, though not long, include some that require careful analysis of the lawn/garden and the specifics of the units under consideration. Once such considerations have been given due weight, the very nature of the shredder is such that operating and maintaining it becomes simple and pleasant tasks. This being the case, we earnestly believe that by combining adequate forethought with the information provided in our top products’ reviews, you shall be able to obtain a durable and dependable workhorse to keep your lawn/garden clean no matter the contours, the size and nature of the area to be cleaned out.