Leaf Catcher 2000





Introduction: Leaf Catcher 2000

I built this catcher a few years ago and want to share it with others. It's very simple to build and does a pretty good job of clearing my yard of fall leaves.

Step 1: Build It and It Will Suck

Youll need a riding lawn mower and a pull behind utility cart.
I own a Craftsman18hp Garden Tractor and a wagon, I bought from Northern tools

Step 2: The Box

I build the box out of 1/2 plywood and 2x4s. Very simple box construction using exterior screws. I think it took me less than 2hrs to build the box.

I left 1/4 of the box opened, in the front, and covered it with screen to allow air to escape, when mower is discharging leaves into the box. The back of the box has a door attached with inexpensive hinges . Notice the high tech locking mechanism!!

I originally tried to use 6” flexible duct, purchased from the local hardware store. 6” is the diameter of the first stage discharge chute, on the lawn mower. But leaves would clog the duct pretty quickly. So, I bought an eight foot section of 10” diameter hose, that’s specified in the link below. (heavy duty vacuum hose).
This worked pretty well- didn’t clog as easily. But I mounted it too low on the cart (see the picture) and it didn't fill the box very high. So I mounted the hose as high as I could on the box, pushing the hose in far enough to kind-of point down. I can now fill the box up to the hose level with leaves and grass no problem.



Step 3: Fill'r Up

The Craftsman’s mover deck has enough suction and discharge power to throw leaves into the catcher, as long as the hose is not constricted in any way. Taking a sharp right turn while vacuuming up a large pile of leaves will constrict and clog the hose. Also, the leaves need to be dry, wet leaves are too heavy and clog the discharge chute. Large piles of pine needles also tend to clog the chute pretty easily.

I use the non-mulching cutting blades on the Craftsman. This might give it more power to lift the leaves into the catcher.

This system dose a pretty good job of clearing leaves in my yard. I find myself clearing the chute 5 or 6 times during the 1 1/2 hrs it takes me to clean up the yard. Because the flexible hose just sits over the first stage of the Craftsman’s discharge chute, it only takes a few seconds to pull off the flex duct and shake out the clogged leaves.

What would be real nice is a pony motor, with a mulching blade to help with the suction problem, and give those leaves a second mulching. But with only a limited budget (the whole project came in at ~$175) I'll take this.



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    update on place to buy hose.


    Got a next door neighbor that is always bragging about his lawn ? Buy a couple bags of time released 0-0-36 and spread it over his during the rainy part of the year at night. He will be cutting grass three days a week. The more you put on it the better the results. People will notice his lawn , it will be the greenest lawn in the state. After all you are just helping him out.

    Nice job dude. Is this for leaves only, or while cutting grass also? Oh, and the links are basically dead now. Northern does not sell the cart anymore and the 10 inch hose has to be ordered in a minimum of 25 foot lengths which would make it a $500+ piece of hose at $20 a foot. So scroungers, get on your scrounging hats. Cheers!

     My grandpa made one of these about ten years or so ago, pretty much the same exact thing, down to the cart type and hose, but instead of plywood for the catch box he made a frame with 1X1's and stretched chicken wire over the frame...nice project!

    The yellow/black hose goes over the existing 1st stage of the bagger hose. 

    The bagger for this model has several parts. a first stage that fits over the mower deck a 2nd stage that fits into the 1st stage and into the bagger attached to the back deck.

    hope this helps


    I have 1 bit of advice for you on this. A mulcher blade is just that, a blade to mulch it. The theory in a mulcher mower is that the grass is continuously lifted into the blade and cut until the speed of the wind inside no longer can pick it up due to the small size. For baggers mowers, they make a special blade that is meant to lift up everything and throw it into the bag. The blades usualy say "High Lift" or "Suitable for mulching and bagging". Just my input on improving your results =D

    ??? Let me know if you need more info Just do it!!

    You are right buddy, this does suck, but obviously it blows too and hard enough to full up your cart. You might want to paint it to match your mower. Good job!

    nice idea, one refinement would be to attach the box to your cart in such a way that it could be easily removed so you could still use your cart as a cart, e.g. with brackets and bungees. Another idea is to make the box out of bent conduit and a tarp, then you could easily stow it when removed.

    4 replies

    I remove the box after the fall leaf clean up season. Although it takes a little bit of "elbow grease" to take it off ( and put it on) Great idea about the tubing and tarp...I feel another instructable coming on :-) thanks

    Do you mulch or compost? Just wondering. Seems like a lot of raw materials to waste if not.

    I compost and use the resulting material in my garden....

    Cool, was just curious, and didn't see it in your steps. If you add just a bit of dawn dish soap to your mulch, it'll absorb water better. A trick we used to use in agriculture class to make our potting soil less dry before planting. More moisture should help your compost do it's thing faster.

    I bought the factory grass catcher from Sears and the plastic part you see in this picture is the 1st stage of that grass catcher.

    Dude - you have a TON OF LEAVES on your lawn! No wonder you made this.

    Couldnt you just buy a bag and hook IT up?

    Very interesting project. It is intelligent to take advantage of the mower's collateral effect.