Clearing your yard of fallen leaves is made incredibly easy by a leaf blower, which helps you gather them up onto a single big pile. But what exactly are you supposed to do with them after that?
The most common practice is to simply shove them into bags and throw them out or compost them. However, you may be surprised by just how many bags it takes. Since leaves aren’t that heavy, they will not exert enough pressure on each other to fall to the bottom of the bag orderly.
Instead, they tend to “fluff each other up”. You’d basically end up filling the bag with air, among which some leaves take up additional space.
How would you deal with that?
To prevent leaves from taking up unnecessary amount of space when bagged, they are mulched. Mulched leaves are also more bioavailable, and thus, are more suitable for composting, as plant beds, etc.
The most convenient way to mulch your leaves by using a blower vac – A leaf blower, which can not only blow, but also vacuum up leaves.
These blower vacs commonly feature a mulcher and a bag attachment, allowing you to vacuum up leaves and mulch them directly into an attached bag. Sounds easy and convenient, but what if you don’t have one? How do you transform a leaf blower into a blower vac?
Well, I’m sorry to be the one to break it to you – You don’t. There is currently no way to convert a conventional leaf blower into a blower vac.
In addition, some blower vacs do not feature a mulcher! If you haven’t taken care during shopping, you may have ended up with one of these.
But don’t worry, you won’t have to spend hundreds of dollars on a new blower, nor must you cry in despair. There are plenty of ways to mulch leaves without a blower vac, some of which are almost as convenient!
Stand-Alone Leaf Mulcher
A stand-alone leaf mulcher, or sometimes leaf shredder, is an electrically powered device which will allow you to mulch or shred your leaves into an attached bag.
Even though it is less convenient than directly vacuuming leaves from a pile and will require slightly more effort on your part, it has a wider opening and thus, lets you dispose of leaves somewhat faster.
The 13-amp, foldable, WORX WG430 (opens in a new tab) leaf shredder seems to be the absolute best-seller and is readily available on Amazon. It can much up to 53 gallons of leaves per minute, at an 11:1 mulching ratio.
You can simply shovel your leaves right inside it, where the electrically powered blades or trimmer lines shred them to pieces.
However, there is a catch! You may end up paying more for one these than you would have for a new blower vac. A leaf shredder usually cost over USD100, for which you can easily find a medium-grade blower vac.
Lawn Mower/Hedge Trimmer
Next on our list of options is to shred the leaves with a lawn mower, or a hedge trimmer. Now we’re getting into a rather messier territory. As for the upsides, though, you probably already own one of these and thus, won’t have to pay a dime to use this method.
Now then, how to go about it?
- With a mower: Spread the leaves apart, so that the mower can actually ride onto them. Then do so multiple times. Expect many leftovers to be scraped up later. You may also choose to not collect the leaves. Simply just mulch them and leave them to decompose on your lawn. The same technique would apply for a manual, rotary action mower (opens in a new tab).
- With a trimmer: You may either follow the same procedure as with the mower, though this may be significantly messier. However, there is another way. Shovel all your leaves into a large container, such as a trash can. Then, dip in your hedge trimmer and go crazy.
As a side note: Many prefer to not bother with a leaf blower and simply just mow down their leaf littered lawn. I prefer using the blower, since most of my back yard does not consist of easily mowable terrain. Using a leaf blower also lets you control the spread of the leaves, and consequently, the mulch that is left behind.
With the aforementioned methods off the table, there really aren’t many options left. You may try manually compressing the leaves into the bags, by shoving them hardly, jumping on them, etc. While this may sound somewhat comical and probably won’t result in a 16:1 mulch ratio, it is better than nothing and as a small bonus, may be a good physical exercise for your quads and core.
Other options that you may try, though shouldn’t expect much success, would consist of shoving the leaves into some container and mulching them with anything that has a blade – hedge shears, a chain saw, etc.
With that said, I highly discourage you from all of these.
In summary, mulching leaves has many benefits, such as reduction of occupied volume and increased bioavailability. For this reason, I recommend you do so.
If you already own a blower vac that can mulch, mulching will be best done with it. However, other options exist. The most practical, though expensive, option is using a stand-alone leaf mulcher. Other viable options utilize lawn mowers and hedge trimmers. Lastly, you may try to improvise, though I see very little reason to do so, since you most likely own at least one or more of the previously mentioned tools.
How do you usually mulch your leaves? Let us know in the comments below!