Best for collecting/shredding leaves

robbiemacNovember 22, 2011

I'm looking for opinions. I collect fallen autumn leaves for composting, mulch, etc... I have been gathering the leaves by raking them from yards, or collecting them from where they have been raked to the curb for pickup by the town. I then put them in a large pile for use the following season. So now that I have a few dollars saved up, I am looking for the best tool for collecting & shredding said leaves more efficiently. As near as I can tell, DR and MacKissic look to have quality tools, but it is tough to tell from web sites.

I'm looking for feedback from owners. I was initially looking at the MacKissic hammermill shredders, but I'm thinking now that a walk-behind vacuum/shredder/bagger might be able to process more volume in a more convenient way.

Any thoughts? Or perhaps another company that I'm overlooking? I will gladly spend a few more dollars to get quality rather than spend less on a Craftsman or something from the big box stores.

Thanks for any and all help.

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The method I use is to rake the leaves into a windrow, and then make a few passes with a mulching lawnmower. The shredded leaves are raked up, and onto a blue tarp. They can be easily dragged to wherever they are needed. If the shredding is done on a hard surface, sidewalk or driveway, then an outdoor broom will be needed to get up the leaf dust.
This method is fast, but there is considerable labor involved in the clean-up step. The main advantage is that it saves on storage space-the tarp will fold down to the size of a book when you are done.

    Bookmark   November 22, 2011 at 10:12AM
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Tried that one as well. Somewhat time consuming for me. My lawnmower is somewhat under-powered.

    Bookmark   November 22, 2011 at 10:34AM
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If you have a concrete slab, why not put the leaves on the blue tarp before mowing them?
If the tarp is stretched flat the mower will not touch it as long as you stay away from the corners and edges. Then you can gather up the tarp around the chopped mulch .

    Bookmark   November 22, 2011 at 10:42AM
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I have an old Craftsman push leaf vacumn with a 3.5 HP Tecumseh engine that i've used for years.It does a decent job. Not sure how old it is, it was a curb find. It also has a hose attachment to clean out flower beds.Not sure how much the bag holds but quite a bit if you shred the leaves. If i ever have to buy one it will be a self propelled one.

    Bookmark   November 22, 2011 at 7:55PM
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I have a MacKissick. It's a great machine, but for mulching leaves, I use my mower. A pile of leaves the size of a car becomes the size of a shopping bag.

Actually, I cut them in place on the lawn and within a few days, they melt away.

    Bookmark   November 23, 2011 at 5:46AM
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@Baymee- the MacKissic that you have, is it a hammermill type? If so, is it a pain to constantly have to lift the leaves up and into the hopper? Or is it the vacuum/bagger type?

    Bookmark   November 23, 2011 at 7:02AM
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Depends on how much time you have, how big yard, can you burn, and how many trees? I have 1 1/2 acres with lots of oak trees in my yard and in the area so I get enormous amount of leaves. Multching all of them out of the question for me, but I do mulch till they become impossible.

I have two methods. Use lawn sweeper (42")(cost around $325 new) dump and burn. Other method is cyclone rake (cost new $1800+) using the mower as power vac or the sucker hose to suck them up and pile to burn.

Usually have to repeat this 4 to 5 times till spring due to all the leaves blown in from yards that don't do nothing. If I do my complete yard takes about 4 maybe 5 hours depending on how motivated I am.

    Bookmark   November 23, 2011 at 8:47AM
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I can send you couple of box car loads shredded, you pay the shipping.

    Bookmark   November 23, 2011 at 8:50AM
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rcmoser- Good one! But I can get my own boxcar loads of leaves, thank you. If I can just figure out the best & most efficient way to collect & shred them... They are spread over several yards- mom's, friends, neighbors, etc...

    Bookmark   November 23, 2011 at 12:06PM
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It's a hammermill. I don't bother using it for leaves. If your tractor has a powerful enough engine and good deck, there is no better way to mulch up the leaves.

I have an ancient, large, chestnut tree and maple trees and they must have a million leaves on each tree and all are easily controlled with a riding mower.

    Bookmark   November 23, 2011 at 6:28PM
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I have a number of large sugar maple and oak trees on my front lawn..about 1/2 acre. This year I have found the best method for leaf removal. I blow the leaves onto my circular concrete drive with my Redmax backpack. The piles easily reach 8-10 in around the circle. I then drive over the leaves with my mulching Simplicity Broadmoor with the deck set initially to its highest level. This knocks down the leaves nicely in the first few paths. I then the lower the blades which reduces the leaves to dust. I then blow the dust into large piles. I scoop the piles into my lawn bags with a snow shovel. I have not gotten too many of these large lawn bags this year. Probably around 20. Many of the neighbors have picked these bags up to use as mulch for their gardens. So I was able to greatly reduce the work effort, reduced significantly the number of bags over past practice, kept large leaf dust levels off my lawn and all this at minimal expense. I went through this procedure over 3 successive weekends with about 2-1/2 hrs each weekend. I wish I had discovered this many years ago!

    Bookmark   November 23, 2011 at 11:22PM
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I have roughly 2+ acres of landscape. The entire area is very well manicured and it's a big job, I can't handle the maintenance as it's about 15hours per week worth all year, so I hire that out. I do however love getting into the yard once a week for therapy and exercise. I have a mackissic hammermill style shredder and a 19hp Deere lawn tractor.
In my yard, the lawn tractor would not be a practical substitute, however it serves its purpose. The leaves that fall on the lawn get mulched up with the Deere, and the massive amount of leaves that fall into the various bedding areas get raked into piles and I bring the mackissic around and shred them in each bed. In fact I just raked and shredded about 1000 lbs worth this evening! I love the Mackissic, although it does wear on my back having to constantly bend over and pick up the leaves to put in. I have a couple retaining walls, and it really helps to rake the piles on the edge of the retaining wall, and scoop them into the mackissic, however thats only part of the yard.
Being able to shred them right in the bedding and then rake it out as mulch works great. If anyone has a system to make the job of picking up the piles easier, please share... That's the only drawback to this type of shredder...

    Bookmark   December 3, 2011 at 4:24AM
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I tend to agree you fastest way would be to mulch with Lawn tractor and of course with wider the deck the better. Problem would be the deck bulldozing the leaves if they are too deep. Gathering with lawn sweeper dumping in an area and mulching with the lawn tractor IMO would be the quickest way to compact them down for compost or just mulching them in place except up against fence or building where they pile up knee high on great Dane!

    Bookmark   December 4, 2011 at 12:38AM
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I used a Sears Craftsman shredder/chipper and a late 1980's Troy-bilt shredder/chipper. There were quite a few differences. The Troy-bilt had hammermills and shredded very fine, which was what I wanted for my leaves. The Craftsman did not shred as finely; but it had an entry shute which could be lowered to ground level. So more rake sweeping into it, and less bending over. Another difference was the pull starting. The craftsman had no clutch, so it was harder to pull start. The Troy-bilt was easier to pull, but you had to get use to engaging the belt. My dad shredded the belt quickly, but I got the hang of it once I learned his way didn't work. The Sears was hard enough to pull that it would start to follow you around the yard as the cord was pulled.

I thought the Troy-bilt was awful until I used the Sears, then learned to like the former. One more disadvantage of the Troy-bilt -- the engine was one the opposite side from where I stood and it had no cover -- twice a small smouldering fire started when leaf pieces collected on the cooling fins.

    Bookmark   December 14, 2011 at 5:00PM
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