Taking care of your home and garden requires a lot of work but when it comes to household chores, raking is one of the worst. It seems like it would be simple (leaves do not weigh very much) but after only a few minutes your arms start aching, your back starts to cramp from being hunched over, and you start to wonder, do lawnmowers pick up leaves?
Lawnmowers will shred and pick up leaves. A mower with a large engine, a high lift blade, and a large grass bag is best for collecting leaves.
Keep reading to learn more about leave removal including how you can remove leaves from your lawn with a lawnmower and the best mower in the business.
Can You Remove Leaves from Your Lawn with A Mower?
Unlike your common vacuum, lawnmowers do not have any suction power. This means that although you can use a mower to help you in your battle against the leaves, it may not work the way you were hoping. Still, you have a few options, and which one will work best depends largely on how many leaves you have on your lawn.
In addition to cutting the grass, lawnmowers can shred any leaves they drive over. If you only have a few leaves scattered around your yard, this can be a quick way to eliminate them. Once you have finished, you can either rake the clippings into piles or allow them to decompose into nutrients that can help your lawn to grow.
However, you should be careful not to leave large clumps of clippings around your yard, which can happen if you have a lot of leaves, or the grass is high.
Large clumps can cause the grass underneath to die and create patches in your lawn. If you notice heavy lines of clippings, you can either rake them up, spread them evenly around your lawn, or use the next method.
Mulching With a Grass Bag
Once upon a time, someone got fed up with raking, and the grass bag was born. The bag attaches to your mower and allows you to pick up the clippings as you go. They do not “suck” the leaves up but as the mower cuts the grass, the air from the blades pushes the cut grass and leaves up into the bag (which is typically mounted near or on the back of the mower). When the bag gets full, simply dump it into your compost pile.
This is a better choice for people who have a thick layer of leaves on their lawn or for people who want to avoid raking altogether.
Best mower for collecting leaves
Mower blades have evolved. Once when choosing a mower you chose a mulching mower or a bagger. What is the difference?
The mulching mower – It was typically a small engined mower that didn’t have a power drive or grass bag. It was inexpensive and its best asset was its ability to clip grass very finely and drop the clippings back onto the lawn. Meaning you didn’t have the extra labor of emptying a grass bag or raking the grass.
The mulching mower used a specially designed stepped blade to chop grass clippings several times before dropping the grass onto the lawn.
Now the downside to the mulching mower – It leaves fine clippings on the lawn and so you get clippings on your shoes when walking on the lawn not ideal for small families then. In addition, a mulched lawn doesn’t look as green although mulching, in the long run, is better for the grass.
And perhaps the biggest disadvantage with the mulching mower is the grass must be cut regularly, skip a week a mulching mower is going to struggle.
The bagger – The bagger is a much larger mower and of course has a bag and collects the clippings, in addition, baggers are usually power-driven makes sense as these mowers are typically heavier. But the real difference between these two mowers lies under the mower.
The deck shape and the blade are different. The deck is shaped so as to funnel the grass clippings to the grass bag and the blade is what’s known as a lifting blade.
A lift blade has wings which when rotating at over 200 mph create a sucking action that causes the grass to stand upright before being cut and transferred to the grass bag.
Modern mowers are a cross between the two, the blades they use are a hybrid using the best of both blade technologies. The hybrid blades are stepped and winged and they do a pretty good job at both mulching or bagging whichever the operator desires, they need simply add an attachment.
That said there is one mower that excels at the job of either collecting or mulching. Honda’s twin blade technology is a masterpiece and the best I’ve used. It picks up grass and leaves cleanly, no second pass is needed once the mower is maintained and the grass bag keep clean. I’ve been repairing mower for years and if you take care of a Honda, it can easily last 15 plus years. I wrote a post about the Twin-cut Honda and you can check it out here “Best mower on hills”
Top Tips For Easy Leaf Collection
Clean grass bag – a matted grass bag prevents airflow and then prevents easy leaf collection. Use a power washer or stiff brush to clean the inside of the grass bag. If using a stiff brush use a dust mask.
Good blade – Despite blades being made from hardened steel and grass made from…well…grass. Cutting blades do wear out and you will notice a big difference in both performance and quality of lawn finish when you fit a new blade.
I advise my customers to change their blades every 3 to 4 years depending on how much and often they cut grass. The lower you like to scalp your lawn the more wear your blade will suffer.
Mower fully serviced – Seems obvious I know, but it’s true, a well-maintained mower will produce more power and will make the job seem almost easy.
Can You Pick Up Wet Leaves with A Lawn Mower?
Yes, you could pick up wet leaves with a lawnmower. However, using your mower in very wet conditions is generally not recommended and could cause more harm than good. Users risk damage to their lawn, machine, or themselves. For these reasons, we would recommend waiting until the leaves have dried.
Some of the risks of using a mower in wet conditions include:
- Electrocution: If you are using an electric mower, you run the risk of being electrocuted. This is especially true if the cord you are using has any unseen damage, allowing the internal wires to touch the wet ground.
- Falling: Wet leaves are slippery and pushing a mower in slippery conditions increases your risk of falling. Even though most new mowers have safety features that turn the machine off when the user lets go of the handle, it is not worth the risk.
- Lawn Damage: Leaving large clumps of wet leaves and grass can damage your lawn. Additionally, big piles of wet clippings are a perfect place for lawn damaging mold to form.
- Wet Grass: There are many ways that wet grass can pose a hazard to your mower. First, wet grass sticks to everything and if it gets stuck in areas that you cannot see, it could increase the chance of rust forming in those areas. For example, under the deck. Also, the wet clippings could form clumps, blocking air from flowing freely to the engine or blocking the blade from working correctly. Leaves may be worse than grass because they are larger. Finally, if you are using a grass bag, you will have a tough time trying to dump the wet clippings out of the bag.
- Difficulty: Wet leaves are much harder to chop up than dry, brittle leaves, and instead of mulching into fine pieces, they may rip into larger pieces.
- Ruts and Mud: When the ground is saturated, the mower will sink into the dirt and could cause ruts to form. Besides being unsightly, the raised edges may cause problems in the future. Hitting clumps of dirt could bend your blades and fling rocks that could damage anything they hit.
What Should I Do With The Leaves After I Pick Them Up?
If you decide to leave the mulched-up leaves on the ground, your work is done. However, if you picked the leaves up with a grass bag, you might be left wondering what you should do with them. Luckily, there are quite a few surprising ways that you can use the fallen leaves.
One of the most common uses for dead leaves is to use them as compost or mulch. People will often have a compost pile somewhere on their property and they simply dump the grass bag onto the pile. Compost can be used as fertilizer in gardens and around plants and trees.
In addition to using compost as a fertilizer after the leaves have broken down, you can pile the shredded leaves around plants and flowers to keep weeds at bay. Using the dead leaves as mulch is great because the leaves will also decompose and add nutrients to the soil throughout the winter.
If you do not have any use for compost or mulch but want to dispose of the leaves, you can check with your city/town to see if they have any special times/days when they pick up lawn debris. Typically, towns will have a few days a year where they will come around and either pick up bagged leaves or vacuum up any leaves that were raked into a pile by the street.
If you live in a rural area or your town does not help with debris removal, you can burn the leaves. However, if you choose to do this, make sure you follow any laws or regulations in your area. For example, some areas require individuals to get a burn permit before burning anything, while other places may place stipulations on what the leaves can be burnt in.
Have you ever seen a house with black trash bags piled all around the foundation? They were using leaves as insulation. While this is not as common as it once was, people still do this, especially in rural areas. Individuals bag the leaves and then line those bags along the outside of their home to help keep heat from escaping through the foundation/basement.
Another fantastic way to utilize dead leaves is to use them as decorations for the fall/Halloween season. For example, you can fill an orange trash bag full of leaves, draw some eyes, and you have a super cheap pumpkin adorning your lawn. Alternatively, you can fill some old clothes with the le and you have a lifelike scarecrow. The best part is when you are done, you can simply throw them away.
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John Cunningham is an Automotive Technician and writer at Lawnmowerfixed.com.
He’s been a mechanic for over twenty-five years and shares his know-how and hands-on experience in our DIY repair guides.
Johns’s fluff-free How-to guides help homeowners fix lawnmowers, tractor mowers, chainsaws, leaf blowers, power washers, generators, snow blowers, and more.