The 10 Best Mulchers

Updated May 28, 2018 by Christopher Thomas

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We spent 38 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top choices for this wiki. Facing a pile of leaves in your backyard? No problem. You can easily turn them into useful plant bedding with one of these garden mulchers, shredders, and chippers. We've included some affordable models with lower capacities that are great for smaller yards, as well as heftier machines that can destroy branches up to 3 inches thick. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best mulcher on Amazon.

10. Sun Joe

This freestanding model from Sun Joe has a high reduction ratio, resulting in finely chopped material that's perfect for the garden. Its specially-designed safety hopper features a locking knob that prevents the motor from operating when the unit is opened.
  • good for twigs and small branches
  • on a convenient 2-wheeled cart
  • gets bogged down with wet materials
Brand Snow Joe
Model CJ602E
Weight 32.2 pounds
Rating 3.8 / 5.0

9. Flowtron Ultimate

The Flowtron Ultimate can be fitted with a bag, or placed directly over a bin or trashcan for simple debris collection. A wide hopper makes it easy to load with large batches, though the motor isn't as powerful as some others.
  • swivels to just the right angle
  • coarse to fine size adjustments
  • can get jammed up by small sticks
Brand Flowtron
Model LE900
Weight 20.9 pounds
Rating 3.9 / 5.0

8. Tazz K32

Covered by a 5-year warranty, the Tazz K32 is ideal for large farms and landscaping applications that require a serious chipper. The rugged debris bag features a bottom zipper for easy emptying, and a dock-and-lock connector for quick hook-ups.
  • optional vacuum kit available
  • durable 11-inch wheels
  • a little pricey for most home users
Brand Tazz Chipper Shredders
Model 18493
Weight 131 pounds
Rating 4.2 / 5.0

7. Earthquake Chipper

If you're serious about making mulch, then consider the gas-powered Earthquake Chipper. While it's extremely expensive, it's a truly professional-grade machine, with heavy-duty components that reduce waste to 5% of its original volume.
  • patented dual triangular hammers
  • handles branches 3 inches thick
  • not intended for domestic use
Brand Earthquake
Model 9060300
Weight 122 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

6. Black & Decker BV6600

With a capable, 12-amp motor and two speed selections, the Black & Decker BV6600 can help you loosen up those matted leaves, and produce a fine fertilizer for your flower beds, although it's not terribly effective at breaking down larger waste.
  • blower reaches speeds of 250 mph
  • durable metal impeller won't clog
  • bag tends to wear out prematurely
Model BV6600
Weight 16.2 pounds
Rating 4.3 / 5.0

5. Patriot Products

The heavy-duty Patriot Products has a top-mounted, extra large hopper that easily swallows piles of difficult organic material. It tears through branches up to 2.5 inches in diameter, and starts up rather quietly with just the flip of a switch.
  • low-maintenance motor
  • doesn't produce any smoke or fumes
  • its high torque comes at a high cost
Brand Patriot
Model CSV-2515
Weight 126 pounds
Rating 4.7 / 5.0

4. Worx TriVac

The Worx TriVac is a versatile piece of equipment that can serve as a blower, a vacuum, and a mulcher, all in one convenient package. It's great for streamlining yard work, and its compact size makes storage and transport easy.
  • quick blower-to-vacuum conversion
  • well-balanced and easy to maneuver
  • variable speed for dynamic control
Brand Worx
Model WG509
Weight 12.8 pounds
Rating 4.9 / 5.0

3. Husqvarna 125BVX

At just under 10 pounds, the Husqvarna 125BVX is surprisingly light for a gas-powered appliance and, thankfully, it's not quite as loud as their dirt bikes. It is, however, one of the best ways to carry a powerful leaf vacuum to the far corners of your property.
  • continuously variable speed control
  • 2-year manufacturer's warranty
  • easily washable filter
Brand Husqvarna 125BVX
Model pending
Weight pending
Rating 4.9 / 5.0

2. Worx WG430

The Worx WG430 is tailored specifically to destroying leaves, thanks to a bladeless design much like that of a string trimmer. It's easy to load, creates a consistent end product, and will take care of most homes' autumn needs.
  • easy tool-free assembly
  • includes 24 replacement lines
  • won't hurt your back at all
Brand Worx
Model WG430
Weight 25.7 pounds
Rating 4.9 / 5.0

1. Toro UltraPlus

Rated among the best leaf blowers by Consumer Reports, the Toro UltraPlus takes handheld shredding to the next level. It can suck up to 450 cubic feet of air per minute, cutting 97% of yard debris down to half-an-inch or smaller.
  • quieter than most options
  • weighs just under 9 pounds
  • shred ring ensures consistent output
Brand Toro
Model 51621
Weight 13.4 pounds
Rating 4.8 / 5.0

The Benefits Of Using a Mulcher

Mulches are typically layers of loose material or coverings that are placed over the top of cultivated soil. Mulch is not a requirement of gardening, but it is highly advantageous at every stage. There are many benefits of creating your own mulch using a mulcher. Using a mulcher reduces the cost of mulch, and drastically simplifies the process of yard work.

There is also a sharp decrease in yard waste when using a mulcher. Cleaning fallen leaves from trees can be an annual nuisance. Alternatively, many people choose to turn those fallen leaves into beneficial soil amendments by putting them through a mulcher to create ground cover. Twigs, sticks, and small branches from trimmed trees can also be added to many mulchers. This creates heavy wood chips in addition to lighter ground foliage, which can be very beneficial to the garden. Tree-based mulches such as these create healthy soil and encourage plant growth in many ways.

Most people who use mulchers notice an immediate increase in the health of their yard. Mulch also saves time spent pulling weeds, as weeds have a more difficult time seeding in loose, rough foliage. Even weeds that successfully seed have very weak root systems, and are easily pulled up. A healthy layer of mulch will also reduce water bills in the summer, as soil loses much less waterthrough evaporation when it is covered by mulch.

Mulch will also improve the texture of the soil. Soil which loses water rapidly tends to compact, making it very hard for roots to break through. This can inhibit the growth of many plants. Keeping a layer of mulch on top of the soil around plants keeps the underlying soil fluffy and moist. This allows roots to easily spread out, and directly translates to happier, healthier plants.

The Basics Of Using Mulch

Once all the yard waste has been turned into mulch, it is important to understand how to use that mulch to provide the most benefit to the yard. It is vital not to place mulch directly against tree bases or plants. If mulch is placed directly on a plant or tree, it promotes water retention, which can be problematic. Excess moisture from mulch can be the perfect breeding ground for crown rot and other types of wood decay. Mulch piled around plants can also serve as the perfect place for nesting rodents who feed on stems and roots from these plants.

It is also important to understand mulch thickness. A layer of mulch that is too thin will not provide adequate protection, and will dry out too fast to provide the soil much benefit. Mulch that is applied to thickly can be a problem as well. A wood derived mulch may provide the natural habitat for certain fungi to thrive, which will dry out the wood and keep it from retaining moisture. This thick layer of mulch also damages the soil by keeping it too moist. Soil which is consistently moist and is never allowed to dry out is prone to create root rot in many species. A mulcher can easily create a layer of mulch one to three inches thick in any yard, which is the ideal depth.

Understanding soil microorganisms is also important when first using a mulcher. Before adding a heavily wood-based mulch to the top of the soil, consider adding a source of nitrogen. It is as simple as running grass clippings through a mulcher and distributing them evenly throughout the yard. The microorganisms which help decompose wood based mulches also consume a lot of nitrogen, which plants need to grow. This can cause nitrogen deficiencies if left unchecked.

Organic Mulch Versus Inorganic Mulch

There are two different types of mulch, organic and inorganic. Organic mulch is derived from natural materials like grass clippings, fallen leaves, twigs, and other plant matter. These mulches break down over time. As organic mulches decompose, they add valuable nutrients to the soil around them. They also add microorganisms to the soil, which greatly benefit the health of both the plant and soil. Nitrifying bacteria and mycorrhizal fungi are two examples which can only be provided by the addition of organic materials to the soil. As the levels of these beneficial microbes rise, those that cause plant disease are inhibited.

A well-mulched garden is the perfect home for earthworms as well. Earthworms are one of the more important factors in plant health. They digest organic matter and create nitrogen in the soil. Their movements also help aerate the soil and keep it moist. Earthworms only exist in organic soils, and their presence increases plant production over time.

Inorganic mulches include things like chunks of rubber, stones, landscaping fabrics, and plastic particles. They can be purchased from any hardware store, and can be painted any color to match the desired landscape. Inorganic mulches usually take more time to install and require extra irrigation, as water is not absorbed by any inorganic mulch. Some inorganic mulches are designed to confuse bugs or simply keep the soil from heating up and help with evaporation. They provide little benefit to the soil or plants otherwise.

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Last updated on May 28, 2018 by Christopher Thomas

A traveling chef, musician, and student of the English language, Chris can be found promoting facts and perfect copy around the globe, from dense urban centers to remote mountaintops. In his free time he revels in dispelling pseudoscience, while at night he dreams of modern technology, world peace, and the Oxford comma.

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