Can a Lawn Mower Pick Up Leaves?

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We typically use a rake to gather leaves, but it can be a lot of work. Looking over at your newly trimmed lawn, the question pops up: can a lawn mower pick up leaves? I am here to tell you it does, and you will learn how to do it step by step.

Lawn mowers can pick up leaves two ways: mulching and bagging. You can set your lawn mower to mulch mode or you can attach a leaf bag. You can use the mulched leaves as lawn fertilizer.

How to Mulch Leaves with a Lawn Mower

Thee best time to mulch (and mow) is when the leaves are dry. Wet leaves are heavier and might take its toll on the engine. So make sure you have the right engine for your lawn mower before doing this.

When you mulch, the leaves are shredded into small pieces but remain on your lawn. Modern push and riding lawn mowers have mulch options available.

Without further ado, let’s get to it. First we will take a look at the mulch method. This works for riding and push lawn mowers. But for the best results I recommend the Maxpower 331528B Mulching Blade. It works with a lot of popular brands such as Troy Bilt and Cub Cadet and is reliable.

Step 1. Take off the bagging attachment, following the manual instructions. Decide where the mulch will be. When you find a spot, position the lawn mower so the exit chute faces that spot.

Step 2. Install a mulch blade on your lawn mower. This is specially designed for mulching and is more effective than a standard blade. Installation is similar to how you put on a regular lawn mower blade.

Step 3. Position the lawn mower deck to the highest level. This is necessary so the blade can cut the leaves into small bits. Adjust the lift link nut to the highest possible setting. Your goal is to cut about 1/3 of the grass top.

Step 4. Install the mulch plugin and shut off the side discharge. Make sure the engine is turned off before you install the plugin.

Turn on the engine and begin mowing. From my experience, the key is to mulch as thoroughly as possible. Try to cover as much area as you can. If you missed a spot, go over it again. This might require several passes depending on the size of your lawn.

How to Bag Leaves with a Lawn Mower

As you might have guessed, this method involves putting the leaves in a bag. This is a simple and effective technique, without any need for special equipment.

Step 1. Attach a grass or leaf bag to your lawn mower. The ST95000 Leaf Bag is compatible with a lot of brands so it is a good option. The attachment port might be on the side or the back of your lawn mower.

The default settings for most lawn mowers is to collect both leaves and grass. But some models allow you to gather only the leaves. Adjust the setting if you want.

Step 2. Turn the engine on and start mowing. As you mow, the leaves are gathered and stored in the bag. Empty the bag once it is full and resume collecting leaves if necessary.

This method is quick and easy, though you might have to empty the bag a few times. Fortunately grass bags come in different sizes.

Some lawn mowers come bundled with a grass bag, but you can easily replace it with a bigger container if necessary.

Lawn Mower Leaf Bag Buying Guide

Leaf bag and grass bags are often used interchangeably. Strictly speaking the two are not the same, but they will both do the job. Whether you call it a leaf bag, grass bag or container, it does not matter. There are other things you have to consider.

Compatibility. Look for a leaf bag that works with your lawn mower. This should not be a problem as lawn mower brands often sell leaf bags. There are also a lot of third party suppliers available.

Durability. The last thing you want is for that leaf bag to burst open after collecting all the leaves. Look for a bag that can handle heavy duty use. It has to be made of solid materials so it doesn’t rip under the weight of all those leaves.

Size. Leaf bags come in all sizes. Which you choose depends on the volume of leaves you clear. Start with the one that comes with your lawn mower, and from there you can judge how large the leaf bag should be.

Which is Better: Bagging or Mulching?

It depends on what you want to do with the leaves. If you just want to dispose of them, bagging is better. You just attach the bag onto the lawn mower and discard the content when full. A leaf bag is also cheaper than buying a mulch blade or kit.

Mulching leaves and leaving them on your lawn however, allows it to serve as a fertilizer. It stimulates growth and makes your lawn more vibrant.

I want to add that you have to be careful with fertilizing too. If there is too many fertilizers on your lawn, it could damage the grass. Too many leaves will prevent the sun from reaching the grass, slowing its growth.

Do not leave a bunch of clippings scattered on your lawn. This will result in patches and destroy the grass under those clippings. To get rid of clippings, distribute them evenly across your lawn or mulch them.

Why Lawn Mowers Should Not Pick Up Wet Leaves

If you’re wondering if a lawn mower can collect wet leaves, yes. But these leaves will clutter the blade and can be a mess. But there are other reasons why picking up wet leaves with a lawn mower is a bad idea.

It is messy. The grass and leaf clippings will stick to the blade, the deck and other parts of the mower. If the clippings block the air filter this can cause the engine to stop. Wet grass also mixes in with dirt and this makes a mess. It fills up leaf bags quickly and are a pain to empty.

Dangerous. Mowing or mulching wet leaves is dangerous. If you are using an electric lawn mower, the risk is of electric shock. There is also the risk of slipping and falling on the slippery ground.

Yard damage. The other thing is that mulching wet leaves can damage your lawn. Wet leaves could clump all over the place, and the mower could sink into the muddy ground. This will leave unsightly marks on your lawn.

Related Questions

When should I pick up leaves with a lawn mower?

The best time is when the leaves are dry. Wet leaves are heavy and stick to the blade. The leaves will also clog the underside of your lawn mower. Dried leaves are easier and faster to pick up.

What should I do with all the leaves?

Mulch the leaves and spread them on your lawn. No, they won’t make a mess because after mulching, their volume goes down by a lot. The leaves fertilize the grounds so it is good for your lawn.

How do I clean a leaf bag?

Use a stiff brush to clean the bag. Hose the bag interior for stubborn dirt. Don’t forget to wear goggles and a dust mask to keep the dirt off your face. I like to clean the leaf bag after each use to prevent dirt and dust buildup.

Why is my lawn mower not mulching?

The most likely reason is a dull blade. You should replace the blade at least every 3 years for optimum performance. If you mulch a lot of grass, replace the blade more often. The replacement frequency suggested by the manufacturer is just that, a suggestion. If you notice the blade isn’t cutting the way it used to, get a new one.