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Can a Lawn Mower Pick up Leaves? Methods, Pros & Cons

gas and battery powered lawn mower in the garden

Anyone with a backyard knows that in addition to cutting grass, you also have to worry about the leaves that fall from trees in the backyard. What do you do with them? Should you leave them scattered about on your freshly cut lawn, or should you pick them up and dispose of them? If you are going with the latter option, how do you pick them up?

Can you use a lawn mower to pick up leaves? Yes! A lawn mower with a bag attached to it is one of the fastest methods of picking up all the leaves from the lawn.

The mower, which was first powered by steam, has undergone several stages of technological evolution and is now capable of performing more functions on your lawn, including picking up leaves, shredding them, and using them as mulch.

In this article, you will discover in-depth information about this, including some alternatives to lawn mowers to pick up your leaves.

garden flower divider How Do I Pick Up Leaves From My Lawn?

There are a few ways to get rid of excessive leaves from the lawn.

lawn mower racing
Image By: Ralf Geithe, Shutterstock

Raking vs. Mowing: Can You Mow Leaves Instead of Raking?

Raking is the most common method of picking up leaves from lawns. There was a time when everyone used rakes to get rid of leaves on the lawn. However, when the lawn mowing method came about, most people gladly switched over to it as a preferred method. Let us make a brief comparison of the raking and mowing of leaves.


  • This is one great way to exercise
  • The leaves gathered from raking can be used as a compost pile for other plants
  • Freshly raked lawns give off a tidy look.
  • Raking can be tedious and time-consuming
  • Disposing of the gathered leaves can be difficult

Mowing and Mulching

  • This is a faster and more effective approach
  • No need to worry about disposing of the leaves afterward
  • When mulched, leaves can serve as a natural fertilizer to improve the quality of the soil
  • When wet, mulched leaves can prevent the proper distribution of ventilation, sunshine, and moisture to the soil.
lawn mower racing
Image Credit: Ralf Geithe, Shutterstock

Two things can be done with leaves that have been mowed.

1.   Mowing and Bagging

This is the easiest process. All you need to do here is attach a grass-catching bag to the mower before you begin the process. This way, while you are running the lawn mower over the grass and cutting the grass, the leaves will be simultaneously picked and bagged.

2.   Mowing and Mulching

This process involves shredding the leaves with the mower and then using them to cover the soil.

When mulching, ensure that you do not leave large piles of mulched leaves on a single spot. The leaves should be spread evenly and moderately because when a large quantity of mulch is dropped on a single spot, it covers the blades of the grass, causing the lawn to suffocate over time.

After a while, the mulch will decompose to form fertilizer for the lawn. As it disappears, it will blend with the cut grass, and you can have your lawn looking tidy again.

Lawnmower in the spring
Image Credit:Ryan Nicoll, Unsplash

What to Do With Leaves That Have Been Picked Up With a Mower?

Sometimes, especially during the fall season, leaves are so abundant that even after mowing and mulching, you are still left with a bag of leaves. If you are wondering what to do with the leaves, here are a few useful ideas.

  • Use them as natural fertilizer: After spreading the mulch on the area where you picked the leaves, you can also spread the remaining mulch on your garden or other cultivating areas of your home. Shredded brown leaves decompose quickly and can boost the quality of any soil, making it fertile.
  • Insulation: Ever wondered how to protect baby plants during the winter season? Mulch can do this job perfectly.
  • Contact professional gardeners: If you have no further use of your bagged leaves, there might be some gardener around you who would thank you for it. Contact some gardeners and farmers around and check to see if they need it.

What Kind of Leaves Can I Pick Up With My Mower?

Dried leaves are the best leaf types to be picked up using mowers. Here are some difficulties that you might encounter when picking up wet leaves with the mower;

  • Wet leaves will be harder to pick up, thereby putting more strain on the mower’s motor.
  • Wet leaves are likely to cling to the mower when in use and clog it.
  • Wet leaves are likely to stick in the catching bag, making the emptying process difficult.
  • If you manage to mulch wet leaves, dropping them back on any soil to be used as fertilizer can be detrimental. They are likely to form large clumps, and mulch is best distributed in small quantities.

It is always best to allow wet leaves to dry out before using them as mulch.

Rotary Lawn Mower
Image Credit: Andres Siimon, Unsplash

Can All Lawn Mowers Be Used to Mulch?

No, not all lawn mowers can be used to mulch. A regular mower has a flat blade and works by throwing the cut grass and the picked leaves into a bag attached to it.

On the other hand, a mulching mower has a curved blade and a different body shape. It works by cutting the grass, recycling the pieces around the curved blade, and shredding it into smaller bits. It then throws it into either a bag attached to it or back to the ground if no bag is attached.

Can You Turn Your Regular Mower Into A Mulching Mower?

Yes. A regular mower can be converted into a mulching mower. The easiest way to accomplish this is to attach a conversion kit. You can contact your machine’s manufacturer to find out the availability of a kit and order one.

Another way is to get your mower’s blade changed from the 2-in-1 of a regular mower to the 3-in-1 of a mulching mower.

garden flower divider Conclusion

It is safe to say that having a mulching mower is a good investment for every lawn owner. The benefits of using a lawn mower to pick up leaves outweigh the cons.

If you intend to get a lawn mower after this, remember to confirm that the machine is capable of mulching. If you already own a mower, you can also add a conversion kit or change the blades to start enjoying these benefits.

Happy leaf picking!

Featured Image Credit: Sergey and Marina Pyataev, Shutterstock


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