Best method of shredding leaves

ladycraft(6b MO)November 22, 2008

I have a blower/vacumn and it puts out more dust than I can handle to still breath. I regret that we even bought it. I'm considering a push mower shredder next year but don't want to waste more money if there is a better way. What methods/ideas do you have?

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west9491(6)

you could buy a dust mask and goggles??

i mow mine too....thanks for the heads up about the blower vac. cuz dads got one, and i was going to try it...

    Bookmark   November 22, 2008 at 10:44AM
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gnomey(7b SC zip296)

I've tried chipper/shredder - intake slot too small for lots of leaves, it's designed for twigs and small branches.

Flowtron - absolute junk, also created enormous amount of dust if/when you can get it to work.

Leaf vac/shredder - broke it the first time I was able to pull hard enough to get it started.

Next up - mulch mower.

    Bookmark   November 22, 2008 at 11:11AM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

I mulch mow the leaves back into my grass. If there is a pile of leaves after I drive over it, I continue going over it until they are all gone.

    Bookmark   November 22, 2008 at 11:30AM
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dlpasti

I have an electric blower/vac/shredder--LOVE it, use the snot out of it! Dusty, yes, but so much faster than trying to rake and bag the leaves, and shreddes them smaller than the mower with bagger on, just as dusty. Hey, forgive me, I just finished shoveling that white 4 letter word! SNOW!!! Only to have the plow put snow from the road in my driveway.

    Bookmark   November 22, 2008 at 12:02PM
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wayne_5 zone 6a Central Indiana

I use the riding lawn mower to work them inward to a windrow [8inches deep and say 36 inches wide] and them back the mower over them...try it!!!

    Bookmark   November 22, 2008 at 7:34PM
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Lloyd

I use one of these. Here is mine parked in the shed. It is a fantastic machine, when you Americans decide to build a good machine, you do it very well!

Lloyd

    Bookmark   November 22, 2008 at 8:20PM
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bradley787

Keeping with the 'green' mode, I put my leaves in one of the big clear bags that Starbucks UGCs come in, then I sit on it, then squish it, then sit on it again, then squish it some more, then I put it near the fence to start composting with the UGS and moisture left in the bag and add the cool crumbly leaves as needed. I have fun sittin and squishin the leaves. Burning MY energy, not the earth's.

    Bookmark   November 22, 2008 at 9:43PM
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greenbean08_gw(PNW)

I agree about the Flowtron, I bought one used a couple months ago, and broke it already.

I finally remembered that my blower could be used as a vac, and I've had pretty good success with that. It's a bit dusty, but since the bag is behind me, I don't think it's as bad as using the mower where the bag is in front of me.

    Bookmark   November 23, 2008 at 2:20AM
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tiffy_z5_6_can(5/6)

I've had an electric Black and Decker Leaf Hog for three years and it's a charm. Wouldn't do without.

    Bookmark   November 23, 2008 at 9:01AM
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ladycraft(6b MO)

I don't have anyplace to keep the cyclone rake and would have to stress a long time putting that much money out for it but it looks like a dream. Think it may have to be a mulching mower. Thanks for letting me know that I am not the only one that has a dusty shredder. I asked hubbey if it was together right and I got a stern YES.

    Bookmark   November 23, 2008 at 1:42PM
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shagaia

I'm with tiffy - love my B&D LawnHog. Ladycraft have you tried tieing a towel or maybe a plastic sheet shroud to capture dust till it falls to ground. If you could make that work you would have a product to sell because it would sure make that chore more pleasant.

    Bookmark   November 23, 2008 at 2:28PM
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gnomey(7b SC zip296)

The B&D Lawn Hog is on my wish list!

    Bookmark   November 23, 2008 at 4:22PM
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diggerdee

I guess I'm in the minority, but I LOVE my Flowtron! It makes the best shredded leaves I've ever seen. Yes, it's incredibly dusty, but if it bothers me, I'll just pop on a dust mask, which I don't usually bother with. The drawbacks IMO are it doesn't do well with sticks or wet leaves, and I think it really was made for people with smaller yards. I could never do my whole property with it, because it is very time consuming, but I've got about 25 bags of shredded leaves stored up so far, and I'll do a few more this week, and then blow the rest of the leaves into the woods. If time and weather allow, I often rake the leaves back out of the woods during the winter to shred more leaves for my spring mulch.

Some people have complained that the Flowtron's motor doesn't last, but I wonder if, again, it was made to be used in smaller yards and therefore run in shorter spurts, or at least run for less time overall. I rake up a bag, shred it, turn off the machine, rake another bag, shred it, etc. I don't keep the motor running continuously.

I really need what Lloyd has. Maybe some day. Bradley sounds like he has the most fun way. One could round up the neighborhood kids for that and get it done in one afternoon.

Dee

    Bookmark   November 23, 2008 at 4:30PM
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greenbeans

I'm with bradley787. Instead of using fossil fuels (and money) to break down the leaves, I do the following:

Rake up leaves into a large trash container; stomp them down inside the container; continue filling and stomping until it's full; dump it into chicken wire bin; stomp the leaves in the bin some more (this probably is a great show for my neighbors!); keep filling and stomping the bin til full.

You can get an amazing amount of leaves into a small space this way. It's decent exercise, too.

And it's true that the leaves probably don't break down as quickly as if I'd mower-mulched them, but I've found that by the end of the following summer, the previous fall's leaves are almost gone. In part due to application in the garden and compost pile; in part due to just breaking down.

    Bookmark   November 23, 2008 at 6:54PM
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merrygardens(z5 MI)

I pulled up GardenWeb to exult over the several hours of raking, shredding and spreading leaves I put in yesterday and today.

I have the Flowtron shredder, and when the leaves are dry, WOW. We've had freezing weather for awhile now and the leaves seem 'freeze-dried'. They whoosed through. I've run it for lots of hours this season, and am very happy with it. My first one was bought second hand, and I think because I put lots of wet leaves in, it didn't last long. So I bought a new one, and it has served me well for two seasons.

I started with an electric blower/shredder, and was not nearly as happy with it--bag too small, heavy unit. I have a very large yard with many huge trees. I don't rake and shred everything, but I do enough to spread over all my flower beds and ring the trees. The key definitely is do them when they're dry.

    Bookmark   November 23, 2008 at 7:26PM
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fishboy2008

This is the first year of shredding for us so it was the weed-wacker and trash can method. Very dusty and I went through a spool of line. Pondering the leaf hog though for next year.

    Bookmark   November 23, 2008 at 8:00PM
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greenbean08_gw(PNW)

My (older) Flowtron was taken out by a rock in a bag of leaves. Not sure if DH can make it work again or not.

    Bookmark   November 24, 2008 at 3:03AM
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ladycraft(6b MO)

I wear glasses and it is a struggle with a mask. Either dust or they steam over from breathing. Maybe I should just be honest and admit I don't want to do it. I kind of like the stomping with bradley787 and greenbeans. The grand kids would love it! I did use the tiller in a pile of them and it helped. The neighbors are sure I'm strange anyway after the flash light and salt thing to get slugs.

    Bookmark   November 24, 2008 at 7:23AM
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ryanzone7(z7MD)

I've shredded many leaves many ways and each way has it's why's and why nuts. I have had at least 10 flowtrons and I loved each and every one of them, two I bought (and funny enough those were both craftsman knock offs) one for 80 or so bucks and the one I am using now for 10 bucks (yard sale) all the rest were given to me or I salvaged from some ones trash pile, and just like any tool, it is made to work only so hard, and isn't made to work like a gas powered leaf shredder (read "lawnmower") but if you feed em right you'll be able to control where the leaves go, like into a trash can so it can be added to a "PALLET COMPOST BIN"
I have also shredded up leaves using a lawn mower and let me tell ya for mass reduction this is the way to go, it's also a lot of work, but another way to shred leaves is to put them in the curb and as cars drive over them they become more crushed and compacted=ready for the bin.
But with all that being said the only reason in my mind to shred leaves is to fit more leaves into a smaller area and/or to make McCompost (fast compost that is....garden gold....make some tea....)but here in Maryland when I make compost, its for the spring, so I can wait from late November to.. lets say.. May to use my compost. (even though I always have some finished compost on hand to use when I need it) but if you have enough room to make a pile four feet wide, eight feet tall and eight feet long (like i have behind my shed) then the mass will make up for any shredding by getting hot and as long as you keep it wet (most of my compost piles are prone to drying out and if you ask me you can never get a pallet bin too wet AND with THAT being said, when I was on the compost farm I had a harder time keeping the windrows wet then worrying about them being too wet. My pallet bins never get too wet even if I pump too much water into them cuz ----wait for it---- THEY DRAIN, each and every time they get too much water, they drain.

IALBTC

    Bookmark   November 24, 2008 at 7:59PM
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greenbean08_gw(PNW)

ladycraft,
One must wonder sometimes how strange the neighbors think we are... I have brought home loads of stuff this year that I try to incorporate quickly into it's place in the garden, just so maybe fewer neighbors will notice. I was actually going to dump some OPBL on my front lawn and mow them in (I don't really have many trees of my own yet), but first the the weather wasn't cooperating on the weekdays (when everyone else is gone), then I ended up using most of what I collected in other places.

professor dirt, if I could make a pile of leaves that big without A) the whole thing blowing away, off into the prairie or B) my neighbors deciding to come after me (I'm still pretty new here), I would probably do it! Don't think I'd bother to chop them up either.

    Bookmark   November 26, 2008 at 12:43AM
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diggerdee

"...One must wonder sometimes how strange the neighbors think we are..."

LOL! So true. One of my neighbors is a bit of a neat freak. He mows his lawn every three days and is yard is always spotless. He has fewer trees than I do, and not only is he out there every day with his (loud) machines cleaning them up, many of them blow into my yard anyway.

I, on the other hand, always just wait until December to clean up my leaves. Oh, I shred a lot of them here and there, but don't do serious yard clean-up till the first or second week of December. Why bother any earlier? You clean them up and the next day the yard is buried again.

So I can only wonder what this neighbor thought when I had a huge dump truck pull in my yard, a yard so full of leaves you could walk and get the leaf equivalent of snow-blind, lol, and the truck proceeded to dump a huge pile of shredded leaves in my driveway. I'm sure he was wondering why I was getting MORE leaves when I don't clean up what I have!

Not to mention the neighbor who caught me last January raking leaves OUT of the woods to shred. He looked at me a bit strangely too....

:)
Dee

    Bookmark   November 26, 2008 at 10:54AM
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ladycraft(6b MO)

diggerdee, I like to keep them guessing. I had put down cardboard and wet it down then put some leaves on top and wet them down for a new bed the other day when a couple ladies walked by. I told them I was trying to get the leaves to grow!

    Bookmark   November 26, 2008 at 8:38PM
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rdak(z5MI)

If I was your neighbor Dee, I'd just mulch mow them into your lawn for you when I was mowing my lawn. You need a better neighbor!! LOL!

Why do I love mulch mowing leaves so much! I'm like a little kid in a toy shop for Godsakes.

Funny how the simple things in life can be so rewarding.

I just finished mowing the last few bags of leaves into the lawn today. Time for winter - oh well, no gardening to speak of for a few months.

Total leaf bags this year was about 42 (not to mention my own trees and leaves from the next-door neighbors' trees). More leaves than I needed obviously but I couldn't stop!!

    Bookmark   November 27, 2008 at 12:00AM
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