• Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic

how to shred leaves without a mower?  RSS feed

 
Anna Tennis
Posts: 49
Location: western slope of Oregon Cascades/Portland, OR
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
With no funds for a mulching mower and no place to store one either, I'm seeking advice on low-tech, viable ways to shred autumn leaves for the vegetable beds. Thanks in advance!
 
Michael Cox
Posts: 1621
Location: Kent, UK - Zone 8
51
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Do they need shredding? Rake them up and they can sit and rot in place in a heap. They will break down to fine crumbly compost.
 
Mountain Krauss
Posts: 130
Location: Northern California
1
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
True. For most purposes, dry leaves don't need to be shredded-- they'll crumble nicely on their own.

If you want them shredded, chickens are a great way to go. Pile the leaves in a contained area, and the chickens will have them broken down for you in a few days. They won't eat the leaves, just tear them up looking for any bugs hiding out. And they'll add some nitrogen to the mix while they're at it.
 
Robert Ray
gardener
Posts: 1351
Location: Cascades of Oregon
12
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Chickens do a great job a weed trimmer in a bucket ot garbage can works great too.
 
R Scott
Posts: 3342
Location: Kansas Zone 6a
32
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Dry leaves crumble easy enough. Just JUMP IN THE PILE!!! Acting like you are 4 is actually good sometimes!

Wet leaves, not so much. But they lay down as mulch nicely as is around trees.
 
Peter Ellis
Posts: 1432
Location: Central New Jersey
40
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
As ever, it depends How many leaves, what sort of collection process, etc.

For example, I have a .25 acre suburban yard that gets quite a bit of leaf fall in autumn. I generally rake them into piles on a tarp and haul them to wherever it is I want them this time around.
If the leaves are dry and inclined to crumble readily, it works to just gather up the corners of the tarp to contain the leaves and do a little dance on them for a minute.

But that would not be very useful if you are talking about large volumes

I also found that simply dumping the leaves on my walkways was a reasonably effective, virtually no effort approach to breaking them down. Walk over them as you go about your normal business and they grind up pretty well. Then I rake them from the walkways onto the beds.
 
Dale Hodgins
gardener
Posts: 6150
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
193
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I place leaves on my dirt road. My tenant and most of his friends have trucks that do a good job of reducing leaves and small sticks. The debris forces them to drive at a reasonable speed.
 
Tim Malacarne
Posts: 226
Location: South central Illinois, USA
2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I use a rotary mower, a 6 footer, on the tractor. Beats the stuff up OK. I use it on all garden debris. You may consider a lawnmower...? Good luck! Best, TM
 
Dale Hodgins
gardener
Posts: 6150
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
193
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Tim Malacarne wrote:I use a rotary mower, a 6 footer, on the tractor. Beats the stuff up OK. I use it on all garden debris. You may consider a lawnmower...? Good luck! Best, TM


Tim, did you read the title ? Here it is again --- how to shred leaves without a mower?
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------
An added benefit to shredding stuff on the roadside is that it picks up silt and becomes heavy enough to not be bothered by wind. The material helps suppress road dust by covering and absorbing fine particles and by slowing traffic. Even when my van is just allowed to idle, I have to brake often to avoid stirring up dust. The compost slows the van down a little.

This area is mulched with stuff from the roadside and with hedge clippings that I'm paid to haul away. The road drains to a wood filled pit beneath the crops.
20140823_113525.jpg
[Thumbnail for 20140823_113525.jpg]
 
Su Ba
pollinator
Posts: 925
Location: Big Island, Hawaii (2300' elevation, 60" avg. annual rainfall, temp range 55-80 degrees F)
107
books forest garden rabbit solar tiny house woodworking
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Depending upon how many leaves and from what variety trees, some of the suggestions should work. Personally I use a regular old lawnmower. It trashes even tough leaves in a hurry. But stomping on a trash bag filled with brittle dry leaves should work. I like the idea of driving over the pile with a car or truck. But no one has mentioned yet about using a flail. Once you get the hang of using one, it's a dang good tool for beating things, like a big pile of leaves. It's quick and easy.
 
David Creed
Posts: 31
1
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I made a small flail type mulcher this year for leaf mould, it has a vertical spindle with steel wire arms and small welded chain, its run by 2 pulleys and a 1/4 hp induction motor so no noise for the neighbours to complain about. Its housed in a 20 litre tub with a slit cut near the bottom for the mix to come out, dry leaves come out looking skeletonised with the leaf veins still attached and the main parts dust like, wet leaves turn to a paste, the whole unit could easily be scaled up to say 45 gallon drum size, Dave
 
David Creed
Posts: 31
1
 
Michael Cox
Posts: 1621
Location: Kent, UK - Zone 8
51
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I'll reiterate my earlier point I think... why do they need shredding?

Autumn leaves rake up easily then sit in a mound over winter. Come spring they are pretty much broken down. Alternatively you can spread them around plants/on garden beds directly as you rake them. What value in there in adding an extra step of processing?

Mike
 
Peter Ellis
Posts: 1432
Location: Central New Jersey
40
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Michael Cox wrote:I'll reiterate my earlier point I think... why do they need shredding?

Autumn leaves rake up easily then sit in a mound over winter. Come spring they are pretty much broken down. Alternatively you can spread them around plants/on garden beds directly as you rake them. What value in there in adding an extra step of processing?

Mike


Because your milage may vary on just how completely thise leaves break down over winter. In my case, for example, a substantial proportion, very likely the majority, of the leaves I rake up in autumn are still largely intact come spring. They can form a very effective water barrier, overlapping in multiple layers like so many shingles and thus protecting many of the leaves from getting wet and decomposing.

Shredded leaves are completely pervious, water flows right into the depths of the pile and come spring it is almost guaranteed that the leaves will be broken down.

It just is not automatic that they will break down over the winter if they were composted intact.
 
Ken Peavey
steward
Posts: 2524
Location: FL
89
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I have piled up shredded leaves and whole leaves. Shredded leaves decompose considerably faster than whole leaves.

What sort of volume of leaves are you looking to shred?
A bucket
A trash can
A pick up truck load
a big ol heap

 
David Creed
Posts: 31
1
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hi Mike, shredding for me is a no brainer, I have limited space so shredding means I can have 3 times the bulk of leaves in a given area, + 3 times the amount of leaf mould come spring, cheers Dave
 
Michael Cox
Posts: 1621
Location: Kent, UK - Zone 8
51
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Ok, that makes perfect sense then...

Personally I like to avoid extra work and we have plenty of space. Leaves get raked around the base of fruit trees where we mulch with chips/compost etc anyway or raked into huge piles tucked under the trees somewhere. I've never yet dug into a pile that wasn't broken right down to lovely friable mush, but then my piles are probably left longer than most.

We will have our chickens in the spring and their run will become our mulch shredder - grass clippings, compost, weeds etc... and likely any and all autumn leaves that don't go directly around fruit trees.
 
Peter Ellis
Posts: 1432
Location: Central New Jersey
40
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Michael Cox wrote:Ok, that makes perfect sense then...

Personally I like to avoid extra work and we have plenty of space. Leaves get raked around the base of fruit trees where we mulch with chips/compost etc anyway or raked into huge piles tucked under the trees somewhere. I've never yet dug into a pile that wasn't broken right down to lovely friable mush, but then my piles are probably left longer than most.

We will have our chickens in the spring and their run will become our mulch shredder - grass clippings, compost, weeds etc... and likely any and all autumn leaves that don't go directly around fruit trees.


Last fall we had chickens. I raked leaves and dumped them in with the chickens, who had a great time tearing through them looking for any goodies. In prett short order they broke the leaves down. This summer something got all three of them, so no chicken shredder for us this fall 😪
 
my overalls have superpowers - they repel people who think fashion is important. Tiny ad:
2017 Homesteaders PDC (permaculture design course) & ATC (appropriate technology course) in Montana
https://permies.com/wiki/61764/Homesteaders-PDC-permaculture-design-ATC
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
Boost this thread!