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Fall cleanup is just around the corner. And those leaves? They aren’t going to dispose of themselves. But who wants to spend all of autumn hunched over, raking leaves into a bag and focusing on lawn maintenance? Chances are, not you. Fortunately, mulching leaves makes for a much better option than raking them. And if you’re in need of a new lawn mower before those leaves start falling? You should probably check out the best lawn mowers for mulching leaves.

Is mulching leaves good for your lawn?

Raking leaves is back-breaking work. Fortunately, there are better options for fall cleanup. In fact, rather than raking leaves into a pile, why not consider mulching them with a lawn mower instead? Because, as it turns out, mulching leaves is good for your lawn. Don’t just take our word for it, either.

“Leaves form a natural mulch that helps suppress weeds and fertilizes the soil as it breaks down. Why spend money on mulch and fertilizer when you can make your own? Turning leaves into solid waste is, well, wasteful,” David Mizejewski of the National Wildlife Federation shared. 

Mizejewski isn’t the only one to think so. In fact, Bob Vila reports that there are several benefits to mulching leaves with a lawn mower rather than raking them. Not only can mulching leaves improve the overall health of your lawn, but it can also save you time and money on raking and bagging leaves. It can benefit insects and support microorganisms that live in the soil too. 

As for the best lawn mowers for mulching leaves? Let’s get into it.

What is the best lawn mower for mulching leaves?

A person mowing the lawn in fall, while also mulching leaves with a lawn mower
Mulching Leaves | Getty Images

The best push mower for mulching leaves is the Honda HRN216VLA, says Consumer Reports. The organization gave the lawn mower Excellent ratings in its mulching tests. It’s good at more than mulching leaves too. In fact, Consumer Reports also gave it Excellent ratings in handling and cutting evenness. As for how much this mower costs? You can expect to pay between $400 and $500 for this new lawn mower.  

And if you would prefer a riding lawn mower for mulching leaves instead? The John Deere X350-42 is one of the best riding lawn mowers for mulching leaves, says Consumer Reports. In fact, the E130 earned an Excellent rating for mulching. Perhaps the only downside to this riding lawn mower is its price. At $3,200, there’s no denying that this John Deere lawn mower is expensive.

Zero-turn lawn mowers are among the best types of lawn mowers for mulching leaves too. Take, for example, the Toro TimeCutter SS4225 75742. Consumer Reports not only gave this zero-turn lawn mower an 83 overall score, but it also gave it Excellent ratings in mulching, side-discharging, handling, and cutting evenness. Priced at $2,500, this zero-turn mower is also a Consumer Reports Best Buy.

How to mulch leaves with your lawn mower

Now that you know the best lawn mowers for mulching leaves, let’s talk about how to mulch leaves with your lawn mower. Fortunately, mulching leaves with a lawn mower is a pretty simple process, Bob Vila reports. First, make sure leaves are evenly distributed across your lawn. Then, adjust the height of your lawn mower so it’s at its highest setting.

Once you’ve adjusted the height of your lawn mower, you can begin mowing over the leaves. According to Bob Vila, your goal should be to cut the leaves into shreds that are approximately a half-inch in diameter or similar in size to a dime. Once you’re done, the shreds should be small enough to fool someone into thinking you not only raked your leaves but also mowed your lawn.

As for how often you should be out there mulching? “Consider mulching leaves on a weekly basis during the height of the season so there’s not enough time between mowings for more than 6 inches of leaves to accumulate,” Bob Vila recommends. 

Mulching leaves is better than raking them

Mulching leaves isn’t just good for your lawn. It also has the potential to save you both time and money. So when it comes down to it? You’re probably going to want to check out the best lawn mowers for mulching leaves before your start fall cleanup.