The 9 Best Mulchers

Updated April 21, 2017 by Chase Brush

9 Best Mulchers
Best High-End
Best Mid-Range
Best Inexpensive
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 smaller capacities for those with minimal landscaping, 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.

9. Sun Joe CJ602E 15 Amp

The Sun Joe CJ602E 15 Amp has a good material reduction ratio, giving you high-quality, nutrient-rich mulch you can use all around your yard and garden. Its specially-designed safety hopper features a locking knob that prevents the motor from operating when opened.
  • good for twigs and small branches
  • compact 6-inch wheels
  • may clog with wet materials
Brand Snow Joe
Model CJ602E
Weight 33 pounds
Rating 3.8 / 5.0

8. Flowtron LE-900 Ultimate

The Flowtron LE-900 Ultimate can be fitted with a bag or placed directly over a bin or trashcan for simple debris collection. It weighs just 17 pounds, so it can be picked up and carried around without much hassle, though the motor isn't as powerful as some other units.
  • feeder can be angled
  • coarse to fine shredding adjustments
  • may get jammed up by small sticks
Brand Flowtron
Model LE900
Weight 21.7 pounds
Rating 3.9 / 5.0

7. Eco-Shredder ES1600

The Eco-Shredder ES1600 boasts a 14-amp electric motor that can power through branches, debris, and leaves, though it must be fed slowly to avoid clogs. It has two rear wheels, so it moves easily, while its front legs keep it firmly in place during use.
  • extra blades included
  • quiet and clean operation
  • blades need to be sharpened often
Brand Eco-Shredder
Model ES1600
Weight 70.9 pounds
Rating 4.1 / 5.0

6. Tazz K32

With a 5-year warrantied 212cc Viper engine, 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 uses
Brand Tazz Chipper Shredders
Model 18493
Weight 131 pounds
Rating 4.2 / 5.0

5. Worx WG430 13 Amp Electric

The Worx WG430 13 Amp Electric features a unique bladeless design that uses nylon strings for shredding leaves, though they're not robust enough for handling thick branches. It's a basic and reliable option considering the affordable price, and boasts an 11:1 mulch ratio.
  • tool-free assembly
  • includes 24 replacement lines
  • can be noisy and dusty
Brand Worx
Model WG430
Weight 26 pounds
Rating 3.9 / 5.0

4. Black & Decker BV5600 High Performance

With a capable 12 amp motor and two speed selections, the Black & Decker BV5600 High Performance can help you loosen up those matted leaves, and then suck them up to produce a fine fertilizer for your flower beds. It also works on grass clippings, twigs, and pine needles.
  • blower reaches speeds of 250 mph
  • strong metal fan prevents clogging
  • built-in retainer for extension cord
Model BV5600
Weight 13.8 pounds
Rating 4.4 / 5.0

3. Earthquake 9060300 Chipper Shredder

If you're serious about making mulch, then consider the gas-powered Earthquake 9060300 Chipper Shredder. It's a professional-grade machine that uses heavy-duty chipping knives and hammers to attain an efficient 20:1 waste reduction ratio.
  • patented dual triangular hammers
  • handles branches 3 inches thick
  • high-performance briggs engine
Brand Earthquake
Model 9060300
Weight 122 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

2. Patriot CSV-2515 14 Amp Electric

The Patriot CSV-2515 14 Amp Electric has a top-located, extra large hopper that can easily swallow piles of leaves or twigs too huge for other units to touch. It tears through branches up to 2.5 inches in diameter, and turns on with the flip of a switch.
  • low-maintenance motor
  • doesn't produce any smoke or fumes
  • plugs into standard 110v outlets
Brand Patriot
Model CSV-2515
Weight 126 pounds
Rating 4.7 / 5.0

1. Worx WG509 TriVac

The Worx WG509 TriVac is a versatile piece of equipment that can serve as a blower, a vacuum, and a mulcher all in one handy body. It's great for streamlining your yard work, and its compact size allows it to be easily stored when you are finished.
  • quick blower to vacuum conversion
  • well-balanced and easy to maneuver
  • variable speed for added control
Brand Worx
Model WG509
Weight 12.3 pounds
Rating 4.9 / 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 April 21, 2017 by Chase Brush

Chase is a freelance journalist with experience working in the areas of politics and public policy. Currently based in Brooklyn, NY, he is also a hopeless itinerant continually awaiting his next Great Escape.

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