How to mulch leaves without a mower is a very interesting question we get regularly. Did you know that common gardening equipment like a weed whacker or a leaf-blowing vacuum can be used instead of a mower?
This article has compiled seven of the most innovative methods you can employ to shred leaves when your mower cannot. So without further ado, jump down below and see what these simple methods are!
How Do You Mulch Leaves Without a Mower?
To mulch leaves without a lawn mower, you can try using machines like a weed whacker, a leaf shredder, or a leaf-collecting vacuum instead. When you find nothing else, spread out the leaves over an even area and walk or drive over them.
1. Use a Weed Whacker
A weed wacker, also commonly known as a string trimmer, is your go-to machine instead of a mower. The main purpose of this machine is to remove weeds from the ground from the roots up using a vibrating piece of nylon string. Naturally, you can use this nylon string to mulch leaves as well.
Before going about mulching through a weed whacker, make sure everyone else is off the lawn for the time being. The vibrating string makes a lot of mess, and there will be lots of cut leaf debris flying around. Wear proper eye goggles and a face mask to prevent things from entering your eyes and mouth.
Take a large garbage bag and fill it halfway through with the leaves you have collected. Ensure to support the bin well; otherwise, it might topple over during mulching and send everything flying.
Insert the trimmer in the trash bin as low as it would go, and holding its handle steady with your hands, turn it on. The trimmer will shake with a lot of force, so be ready for that and try to keep it as near the center as possible.
The trimmer will shred the leaves to appropriate-sized pieces within two to three minutes. If there are more leaves, keep adding them to the bin in small quantities and mulch them.
The larger the trash bin, the less mess the trimmer will create. The mulched pieces will also be conveniently present within the bin, and you can either store them there or move them to the compost pile.
2. Drive Your Car Over Them
This is our favorite method of mulching leaves simply because it is convenient. Why do you even need a leaf mulcher if you have a car and know how to drive? Collect as many leaves as possible by placing a tarp on the ground and using a rake to move leaves over it.
After you have collected as many leaves as you like, spread them over the driveway in two or three rows. You can place them on the lawn even if you do not have a driveway. Make sure no twines, sticks, or sharp objects are present in the leaf pile as you don’t want to risk puncturing your car’s tires in the process.
Next, drive your car back and forth on the collected leaves in the driveway five to six times. If you feel more mulching is needed, mix up the pieces and drive the car over them. This is not necessary, but if you like, you can wash the tires clean before mulching leaves with them.
However, let them dry first because you cannot use wet or moist tires to turn leaves into mulch. After crunching your leaves this way, park the car at a distance and collect mulch for use elsewhere.
3. Use a Leaf Shredder
The whole purpose of this machine is shredding leaves and converting them to mulch. This would be a worthy investment if you regularly mulch leaves or have a large lawn that drops a ton of leaves weekly. All your neighbors can pitch in the money to buy a leaf shredder for your collected neighborhood.
The most common design of a shredder is in the form of a basket or a bin where you can place the leaves. The good news is that it comes with a fitted lid that prevents the shreds from flying in the air. Turn the shredder on for the specified time the manufacturer advises. It takes barely five minutes, and mulches leave better than a lawn mower.
Most shredders come with the option of attaching a bag under it where you can collect the shredded leaves. This would save you the trouble of collecting the mulched-up leaves by hand and the ensuing cleanup afterward.
Leaf mulchers give you several options when it comes to shredding the leaves. You can crunch leaves either very finely or coarsely. Be careful if your leaf collection usually contains pieces of twigs and woody branches or similar things. These machines are not meant to cut wood and might get damaged quickly.
4. Get a Leaf Vaccum
For most lawn and yard owners, a leaf cleaner or a leaf blower is a must-have gadget. It is a vacuum cleaner but only to pick up fallen leaves off the ground. Its engine produces suction, so the leaves are sucked into an elongated oval chute.
Some manufacturers are now selling leaf vacuums with a chopper attached that breaks the collected leaves into smaller pieces. At the end of the vacuum, you can attach a bag into which the shredded pieces of leaves are collected. Unfortunately, the bags that come with most vacuums in the market are quite small, and you will have to empty them repeatedly.
Even if your leaf vacuum is only a simple one, you can still use it to mulch leaves without a mower. Just vacuum the leaves up and then collect them in the bag, then use a mullet to crush the leaves present in the bag. This method might not be as effective as a leaf shredder or a lawn mower, but it still works.
5. Walk Over Them
Yes, you can walk all over the leaves instead of using a mulching mower. Do this several times, and the leaves will break down into smaller pieces acceptable for compost or a layer of mulch over grass. This can also be a fun activity to do with your kids or pets.
The fallen tree leaves must be dry to be crunched into smaller pieces. You must collect the leaves and have them strewn over the lawn under the sun for a day or two. This would dry them and make them easy to break under the feet. If it is to rain anytime soon, place an impenetrable tarp over the leaves to keep them from getting wet.
After the leaves have dried, walk over them for 10 to 15 minutes. Let your dog out into the lawn to help you with this task. Get your kids out and involve them in the activity too. There is no better option for mulching for those who are already into walking.
6. Use a Wood Chipper
If you own a wood chipper, you don’t need anything else for mulching leaves. Unfortunately, this is not something that most of us own at home. Go to your local hardware store or the gardening shop and ask them to lend theirs.
A chipper is good at producing leaf mulch, but you can also add wooden branches and twigs. This would make your mulch so much richer compared to using only leaves for the mulch.
Don’t worry about chippers being too expensive to rent regularly. All of your friends and neighbors can pitch in on this investment. It is also much more reasonable than investing in expensive equipment like leaf mulcher or blower that most stores do not usually even rent.
7. Purchase Some Hens
If you own hens and chickens, they will be useful when shredding leaves into mulch. Hens like to eat everything and will not leave leaves around your yard. Of course, they will only be able to eat part of the leaf as it is. The result will be leaves converted into shredded mulch.
Spread the leaves you have collected in an enclosed space within the lawn and let the hens in. You can throw their food within to encourage your hens and chickens to convert the leaves into mulch. This will attract them more to the fallen leaves.
An unexpected benefit to getting the help of hens is that they add chicken manure to the mix as well. This would convert the simple leaf mulch into a much richer mix. Once the hens are finished, shoo them off toward their coops, then collect the unevenly chewed down pieces of leaves and use them as per your wishes.
8. Use Your Hands
Yes, you can mulch leaves by hand, although it takes a lot of time. Mulching by hand is easier when the leaves have been thoroughly dried before mulching. Collect the leaves to be mulched and have them lay under the sun for a couple of days until they become crunchy and dry. Then just put them in a container and crush them using your hands.
To promote the decomposition of mulched leaves, mix them with nitrogen-rich ingredients. The most common and easily available lawn nitrogen source is grass clippings. Whenever you mow your lawn, collect the lawn clippings in a bag and mix them with mulched leaves to help them break down faster. This would ensure that nutrients are provided to the lawn and plants faster.
Now you know that there are a lot of great alternatives for mulching leaves if you don’t have a mower. For our final thoughts, let us recap this article on mulching collected leaves using various methods.
- Place the leaves in a large bin one-half of the way and use a string trimmer to mulch them all within a few minutes.
- Spread the leaves over a driveway, and either drive your car over them a few times or walk over them until they are all mulch.
- If you have a leaf shredder or can rent a wood chipper, this would help create the best quality mulch.
- You can also get the help of chickens and hens in shredding leaves into tiny pieces suitable for use as mulch.
- You can even mulch leaves by hand, although this is going to take a lot of time. Just make sure that the leaves are dry and crunchy when you do this.
Quickly refer back to this article the next time a lawn mower isn’t available when it’s time to convert leaves into proper mulch. See which of the methods that we have discussed you like best and use it for a creative outcome.
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