5 Steps for Shredding Leaves with a String Trimmer

You can quickly shred leaves for mulch or compost with a string trimmer. To get the job done, first gather your leaves into big piles. Then, fill a trash can half-full with leaves. Stand the trash can upright and insert your string trimmer into the can. Power on your trimmer and use it to shred the leaves. In no time at all, you will have transformed a drift of leaves into a fine mulch.

Shredding leaves with a string trimmer

Can You Use a String Trimmer to Shred Leaves?

Your string trimmer isn’t just a weed whacker and an edger, it’s also great for turning mountains of fall leaves into mulch. The key is to contain the leaves in one place so you can create the perfect environment for your trimmer to chop up those leaves like cilantro in a food processor.

  • Your string trimmer can be used as a very effective leaf mulcher.
  • Shredded leaves are great for compost, fertilizing your lawn, or for use as garden mulch

Using a string trimmer is just one of many great ways to shred leaves without using a mower. Before you trash or burn those dead leaves, remember that they make great compost material and natural mulch. Your trimmer can help turn a pile of leaves into useful material.

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How to Shred Leaves With a String Trimmer in 5 Steps

Whether you want to shred leaves for use in compost, spread them on the lawn as natural fertilizer, or use them as mulch in your flower beds, your string trimmer can get the job done. Follow these easy steps to get the job done quickly and safely, with no damage to your trimmer.

Gather Your Leaves

The first step is to get your fall leaves together into piles in your yard. A good leaf rake can get the job done most of the time, but gathering wet leaves can make the job more challenging. Consider investing in a leaf blower, leaf vacuum, or lawn sweeper to make gathering leaves faster and easier.

  • Use a rake, leaf blower, or other tool to gather leaves into piles.
  • The job will go much faster if the leaves are already gathered into piles before you begin shredding.

You’ll turn all the leaves in your yard into mulch much more efficiently if you’ve gathered the leaves into a few piles first. You can also consider using a tarp. This makes all the following steps much easier.

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Use Your Trash Can

Bring a trash can to your leaf pile. We recommend using a smaller trash can, no taller than waist-high. This makes shredding the leaves in future steps much simpler. Once you have it at your leaf pile, fill the can about half full with dead leaves.

  • Bring an empty trash can to your leaf pile.
  • Fill the trash can halfway with dead leaves.
  • Use a waist-high trash can to make inserting the string trimmer easier.
  • To reduce noise when shredding leaves, use a plastic trash can rather than metal.

The strings of your trimmer will make contact with the sides of the trash can during the shredding step. If your trash can is made of metal, this can be extremely loud. To dampen the noise, use a plastic trash can.

Prepare to Shred the Leaves

When using a string trimmer to shred leaves, wear proper protective equipment. This includes eye protection and hearing protection. Also, it is best to wear gloves and long sleeves to protect yourself from any flying twig debris.

  • Wear eye and ear protection when preparing to operate a string trimmer.
  • Gloves and long sleeves are essential protective equipment when using a trimmer in this manner.
  • Fuel up your trimmer or connect it to a power source.

Prepare your string trimmer by making sure it is fueled (in the case of a gas-powered model) or connected to a power source (in the case of an electric trimmer). If you choose to turn on your trimmer at this point, make sure the trimmer head is not spinning, to avoid injury to yourself.

Shred Leaves

Insert the trimmer into the garbage can full of leaves, then turn the trimmer on or engage the trimmer head. It will instantly begin to shred the leaves in the trash can. From here, all you have to do is guide the trimmer up and down and side to side, shredding the leaves into mulch.

  • Insert the trimmer into the leaf-filled trash can.
  • Turn on the trimmer.
  • Shred the leaves into mulch.
  • Take breaks every 3–5 minutes to allow the trimmer to idle and prevent engine damage.

To prevent your trimmer from overheating, do not operate it at full speed for longer than 3–5 minutes at a time. Using the trimmer for heavy work for long periods can damage the engine. Pause and allow the engine to idle periodically. To allow the trimmer to cool, turn it off when you are emptying or filling your trash can with leaves.

Spread and Repeat

Once the leaves have been shredded to the desired consistency, you have your leaf mulch in a container for transport and distribution. Simply move your trash can of leaf mulch to your compost pile, vegetable garden, or another desired portion of your yard to dump out the mulch and distribute it. Then, repeat the process from step one. You’ll be able to rid your yard of dry leaves quickly.

How Do You Make a Homemade Leaf Shredder Using Your Weed Eater?

You can turn fall foliage into shredded leaves without the use of a lawn mower or leaf mulcher. In fact, all you need is a string trimmer and a garbage can. Just follow these steps:

  • Rake leaves into one or more large piles in your yard.
  • Fill a plastic trash can ½ full of leaves.
  • Put on protective gear and prepare your trimmer for use.
  • Insert your trimmer into the trash can and use it to shred the leaves inside.
  • Distribute the shredded leaves and repeat.

It’s that easy. No leaf mulcher is required and you’ll easily be able to fill your compost bins or garden beds with natural material that mulches and fertilizes.

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