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Best Mulchers

Updated November 2018
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
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We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

  • 5 Models Considered
  • 1 Experts Interviewed
  • 157 Consumers Consulted
  • Zero products received from manufacturers.

    We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

    Why trust BestReviews?
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.

    Shopping guide for best mulchers

    Last Updated November 2018

    A quality mulcher is one of the most important tools in your shed. A mulcher takes care of all your yard waste, from trimmings and prunings in the spring to fallen leaves and twigs in the fall. With a mulcher, you can turn all that unwanted rubbish into mulch to fertilize your yard.

    But with so many options on the market – chippers, chipper shredders, mulchers, and blowers – how do you know which type of mulcher is best for your yard? Shopping for one of these handy machines can get confusing fast.

    At BestReviews, we’ve got you covered. First, we’ll walk you through the big picture, and then we’ll help you narrow down your options so you can find the product that best fits your needs. Just keep reading.

    Although it’s fine to save your mulching chores for spring and fall, it is a good idea to remove as much of the old mulch as possible before re-mulching. Otherwise, the nutrients in new mulch might not be able to pass through the old layer.

    Types of mulchers

    A mulcher is a machine that turns yard waste, like leaves, twigs, and branches, into mulch. Spreading mulch on top of soil conserves moisture and improves the soil’s fertility. Mulch can also prohibit or reduce the growth of weeds. Plus, it’s an aesthetically pleasing addition to any yard.

    Let’s take an in-depth look at the different types of mulchers.

    Mulching lawn mowers

    Whether it’s a push lawn mower or a riding lawn mower, the addition of a mulching blade will turn your mower into a mulcher. Mulching blades have a different shape than regular mowing blades. As the mulching blade spins, it creates a swirling airstream that keeps the grass aloft so it can be cut several times before settling back down to act as fertilizer. If you’re not fond of bagging leaves in the fall, you can simply mow over them with a mulching lawn mower, and the problem is solved. A lawn mower is only useful for mulching grass and leaves, however.

    Mulching leaf blowers

    A mulching leaf blower can be reversed and has an attachment for vacuuming and mulching. This type of mulcher can be a yard-saver if you have a property with a lot of obstacles. With a mulching leaf blower, you can get into hard-to-reach places where other tools can’t fit. You can easily clean that narrow space between your air conditioning unit and your house, clear out under your oil tank in just a few seconds, or blast away debris from the bottom of a chain-link fence. Like a lawn mower, a leaf blower is only good for grass and leaves.

    A tough mulcher than can tackle it all

    The Tazz K32 Chipper Shredder features a 212cc engine that is powerful enough to dispense with most yard waste. Compact, tough, durable, and able to accommodate branches up to three inches in diameter, this hungry mulcher will soon become your best outdoor companion. The included collection bag features a handy bottom zipper to make dispensing your mulch effortless.

    Wood chippers

    A wood chipper takes large pieces of wood, like tree branches, and turns them into wood chips. A wood chipper has one large hopper where you feed in the wood and a long narrow chute where the chips come out. These chips can be used as mulch in certain situations.

    However, fresh wood chips temporarily deplete nitrogen and will suppress seed germination, so they should not be used in vegetable gardens or flower beds. Also, if spread improperly – pressed up around the base of a tree like a volcano – fresh wood chips can cause insect and fungal disease problems. Unless you live on a property with numerous trees, a wood chipper is usually not your best option.

    Chipper shredders

    A chipper shredder looks a lot like a wood chipper, but there are key differences. A chipper shredder is smaller because it is designed for home use. Also, a chipper shredder has two hoppers: a larger one for branches and a smaller one for twigs, leaves, and other organic debris. With a chipper shredder, you can clean up your entire yard using just one machine. It’s a powerful mulcher that is versatile enough for almost any yard waste.

    A chipper shredder vacuum is a portable chipper shredder. This machine works like a lawn mower, but it also has a small chipper intake for branches and a vacuum for clearing leaves out of tight places.

    DID YOU KNOW?

    Mulch is a layer of material placed on top of the soil that conserves moisture and improves fertility. Compost is decayed organic material that is worked into the soil to improve its texture and act as a plant fertilizer.

    DID YOU KNOW?

    A forestry mulcher is like a household mulcher on steroids. It is powerful enough to clear all brush and trees down to ground level.

    Electric mulchers vs. gas mulchers

    Electric mulchers

    If you opt to go with an electric mulcher, your work area will be limited to the length of your extension cord. With an electric mulcher, it’s important to know the proper gauge of extension cord that the mulcher requires.

    Pros

    • Electric mulchers are quieter than gas mulchers. If noise level is a concern, this could be a deciding factor.

    • An electric machine is easier to maintain than a gas-powered one. If you are not handy with oil and machine maintenance, electric might be the way to go.

    • Electric mulchers are better for the environment. If a smaller carbon footprint is important to you, choose an electric mulcher.

    • When you operate an electric mulcher, you won’t be breathing in oil and gas fumes.

    • Electric mulchers are less expensive than gas mulchers.

    • Some mulching lawn mowers and mulching leaf blowers are battery-powered, which makes them completely mobile like gas mulchers.
       

    Cons

    • With most electric mulchers, you are limited by the length of your extension cord. If you can’t get power to where you need it, you won’t be able to mulch.

    • Electric mulchers are not as powerful as gas mulchers, so they take longer to get the job done.

    • An electric chipper shredder may not be able to handle the diameter of the wood you need shredded.

    If you are using a plastic barrier beneath your mulch, you are doing yourself a disservice. The barrier will prohibit moisture and oxygen from entering the soil, so it will not receive the optimum benefits from mulching.

    Gas mulchers

    A gasoline-powered chipper shredder is the best option when you need extra power to break down larger branches.

    Pros

    • You can tap into more power with a gas mulcher. If you have a yard with a lot of branches and debris, especially if it’s larger in size, a gas mulcher is ideal.

    • Gas mulchers are not limited by an extension cord. Wherever you need to work, you can mulch.
       

    Cons

    • A gas-powered mulcher is loud. You’ll need hearing protection, and you will need to be considerate of your neighbors.

    • Gas-powered equipment is not environmentally friendly. If you are primarily concerned with being green, electric is a better choice.

    • Using gas-powered equipment means you will be breathing in unhealthy fumes. You can help combat this with a proper mask.

    • A gas mulcher has more moving parts, making it more time-consuming and expensive to maintain.

    Fast and compact

    The Worx 13 Amp Electric Leaf Mulcher/Shredder is a compact mulcher that can quickly mulch 11 bags of leaves down to a single bag. With it’s 13 amps of power, this machine can mulch up to 53 gallons of leaves per minute. The best part? The lightweight unit can be broken down in minutes for easy storage.

    Features to consider

    Engine

    A mulcher’s engine is rated in a number of ways. Horsepower is the amount of power a mulcher has, while the cc rating is how many cubic centimeters the pistons displace. Torque is the amount of turning power a mulcher has. The higher the number for all of these, the greater the power of the mulcher.

    Hopper

    The hopper size is the width of the opening where you feed debris into the mulcher. However, a larger hopper size does not necessarily mean you can put larger sticks and branches into the machine. The maximum feed diameter is the number that tells you the largest diameter you can feed into the hopper.

    Reduction ratio

    The reduction ratio measures the mulcher’s efficiency. For example, if a mulcher has a 15:1 ratio, it means the machine can reduce 15 bags of debris down to one bag.

    Weight

    It is important to know the weight of any mulcher you’re considering. If you need to transport your machine, it matters how heavy it is.

    Extras

    If your mulcher is on the heavier end, a tow bar or trailer hitch will allow you to more easily transport the machine. A tilt-down hopper lets you tilt the hopper so you can rake debris directly into the mulcher. Another handy feature is a collection bag, which can be placed over your mulcher’s discharge for the easy collection of mulch.

    As grass clippings and mulched leaves break down, they add nutrients to the soil, specifically nitrogen. If you leave grass clippings and mulched leaves on top of your yard, you will need fewer chemical fertilizers.

    FAQ

    Q. What are the dangers of using an improper extension cord with my mulcher?

    A. Any extension cord you use with your mulcher must be in good condition with no visible damage. It must be heavy enough to carry the electrical current the distance you need. If the extension cord is not of the proper gauge for the mulcher, you can have a drop in voltage that will result in overheating. To reduce the risk of shock, always use a properly grounded three-prong outlet protected with a 20A fuse, and never remove the ground prong from the plug.

    Q. As long as it’s less than the recommended diameter, I can toss it in the chipper shredder, right?

    A. No! First, your mulcher is only designed for dispensing with organic yard waste, nothing else should be put in the hopper. Second, fresh vines can get tangled inside the machine. Always consult your owner’s manual for specific cautions.

    Q. What is a PTO shaft?

    A. A PTO (power takeoff) shaft is actually another way you can power your mulcher. It transfers the power from a tractor to a rotary machine. However, this is usually not a viable power option for the typical homeowner.

    The team that worked on this review
    • Allen
      Allen
      Writer
    • Devangana
      Devangana
      Web Producer
    • Eliza
      Eliza
      Production Manager
    • Katherine
      Katherine
      Editor
    • Samantha
      Samantha
      Writer

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