There’s nothing I find more annoying than having to load up the car with garden waste and take a trip to the local tip. The bins provided by the council are often far too small to handle the amount of waste I get from cutting back trees branches and the like so I had to find another alternative.
That alternative came in the form of a garden shredder and since I purchased one of these tools, I’ve never looked back.
Shredders are a fantastic way of dealing with the cuttings you take when pruning trees, bushes and woody shrubs in the garden. Not only do they drastically reduce the need to dispose of large pieces of wood and other materials, but they turn it into something that can be used as mulch; it’s a win-win.
If you’ve never purchased a garden shredder before then you might be unsure what you’re looking for. But don’t let that put you off because I’ve created this in depth guide on choosing a garden shredder for your needs.
Best Garden Shredders at a Glance
Last update on 2023-12-10 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
What Is A Garden Shredder And How Is It Different From A Chipper?
When it comes to gardening equipment, a lot of terms are used interchangeably and this can lead to consumers feeling utterly confused. Shredders and chippers are a prime example of this so before we get into the nitty gritty, I’d like to make the difference between the two clear.
A garden shredder is a machine that is designed to handle any material that you cut from bushes or trees. This could be branches, leaves, twigs or anything else. On the other hand, a chipper is primarily designed to handle any wooden waste.
However, that isn’t to say that you can’t use a chipper for green waste but it isn’t going to do it as quickly or efficiently as a shredder. Therefore, it’s really important to consider the type of waste you’ll be processing in order to figure out which is the right tool for you.
Another thing to keep in mind is that, when using a chipper for green waste, there is a risk of it clogging the machine up. To avoid this, you have to feed it in alongside your wooden waste, even then, this may still be an issue.
Moreover, when you’re using a garden shredder, any small stones, soil, or other waste can usually be processed without too many problems. But when using a chipper, these items can quickly dull the blades.
What Are The Pros Of A Garden Shredder?
Garden shredders are incredibly useful tools and they have a lot of advantages. For example, if you’re looking for a way to reduce your garden waste then they’re ideal. While there will still be the same amount of waste, the shredder will reduce its volume making it much easier to get rid off.
While it would be possible to cut down this waste manually, the amount of time that would take is significantly longer than when using a shredder. If you want to be more efficient, this is the perfect way to achieve that.
I love that you can use the resulting product of your garden shredder as mulch in the garden. This is a brilliant way to improve the quality of the soil and keep moisture in. By doing this, you’ll drastically reduce weed growth, lessening your workload in the garden.
Not to mention that by making your own mulch, you’ll save money. Plus this is a much more eco friendly option than using chemical fertilisers. On top of that, the whole process of breaking down your waste means that less waste will be sent to landfill; another fantastic environmentally friendly reason to buy a shredder.
What Are The Cons Of A Garden Shredder?
There are, as you can see, lots of reasons to invest in a garden shredder. However, as with anything, these tools do have their downsides and these are worth considering when making your decision.
For example, garden shredders are incredibly noisy tools. If you’re spending a long time using them, this can create a disturbance to your neighbours, not to mention the stress it’ll put on your own ears.
It’s also worth considering your garden shredder from a safety point of view. If these tools are not used correctly then there is a high risk of injury. For those that have never had any experience using a garden shredder, this risk may be even higher, regardless of how careful you try to be.
If you’re going to buy a garden shredder then you must be prepared to take good care of it. In order that the tool performs to its best, you’ll need to perform regular maintenance. Of course, an electric model requires a lot less maintenance than a petrol one but this comes at the sacrifice of power.
When purchasing a garden shredder, I’d also urge you to consider that not all tools can handle all types of waste. If you don’t do your research then you may end up with a tool that can’t handle wet pruning’s, stringy leaves and other items that you really need to get rid of.
Tips On Choosing A Garden Shredder
If you feel as though a garden shredder is going to be a good fit for you then there are a few things you’ll need to consider before buying. Let’s take a look at some of these things now.
There’s no point in choosing a garden shredder that is too small for your needs. The first thing you’ll want to consider is the amount of power the tool has and that this matches the size of the materials you’re looking to cut.
Moreover, the type of shredding system you choose should be based around the material size so that it can handle whatever you throw at it. The larger the branches, the more powerful the machine will need to be. If you buy something too small then you run the risk of it jamming.
Branches below 35 mm should be fine to use with an electric blade disc shredder with power over 2000 watts. If you’re looking at cutting slightly larger branches between 38 mm and 45 mm then I would still suggest an electric shredder but this time, opt for a turbine or rotor type system and make sure that it has at least 2500 watts of power. Finally, for branches over 50 mm, you’ll usually be better off going for a petrol shredder with power that is equivalent to 3300 watts. Anything less than this simply won’t be able to handle the challenge.
There are two types of garden shredders; electric and petrol. As is the case with all garden tools, petrol models are usually much more powerful but they also require a lot more maintenance.
An electric shredder is plugged into a socket and relies on mains electricity. They’re ideal for working on small to medium sized tasks and with branches up to 45 mm in diameter. Typically speaking, their power ranges between 2000 and 3000 watts.
A petrol garden shredder is ideal if you’re dealing with larger tasks owing to the fact that they’re far more powerful. Their power is measured in horsepower but is usually equivalent to 3300 – 6600 watts. The great thing about this is that you can handle much thicker branches, often up to 75 mm, without any issues or jamming.
Type Of Shredder
While all garden shredders are designed to do the same thing, there are different types which are suited to slightly different applications. It’s really important to understand this as it is one of the most critical things if you want your shredder to perfectly meet your needs.
- Impact shredders, sometimes called a rapid shredder, have spinning blades inside the machine which chop up the material you feed in. They usually come with a plunger to aid you in feeding material into the machine and the blades chop this up very finely which is why they’re excellent for green matter. These are very lightweight and affordable machines but they can be noisy. What’s more, they often kick out a lot of debris so you’ll need to make sure you have the right protective equipment.
- Roller shredders are much heavier than impact shredders and can cost a fair bit more. However, if you’re looking for something easy to use then they’re ideal as the internal roller helps to guide material in meaning less work for you. They’re also much quieter and safer to use but it is worth keeping in mind that many people report problems with clogging, especially with green matter.
- Chippers are typically petrol powered and offer the most robust and effective shredding. They work quickly and are ideal if you have a large scale project with a lot of waste. What’s great is that there’s no need to be near a power source which is again useful if you’re working on a larger property.
Hopper and Collection Box
Two of the most essential parts of the garden shredder are the hopper and the collection box. The hopper sits at the top of the machine and is the part where you feed in your material. When choosing a shredder, I would recommend going for one with a funnel shaped hopper as this makes it easier to feed in waste.
When considering a garden shredder, it’s worth looking at whether it’s fitted with a collection box that holds the waste. Not all shredders come with this feature but it does make disposing your chippings a lot easier.
As I have already mentioned, some garden shredders, especially petrol ones, can be very noisy. The loudest shredders might be up to 105 decibels while electric models are usually around the same as a standard lawn mower; about 85 to 88 decibels. In any case, I would strongly recommend buying protective gear for your ears.
The last thing that anyone wants is a tool that is impractical and uncomfortable to use. There are several aspects to consider when looking at the practical side of the garden shredder and one of these is its weight.
The most lightweight garden shredders won’t be much lighter than around 15 kg so this is still quite heavy. If you’re not overly strong then this can be problematic as you may find it hard to move the shredder around. As shredders get more powerful, they also get heavier so if you’re going for a petrol model, make sure it’s fitted with wheels.
It’s also worth thinking about how easy the tool is to use. As with anything, electric models are always easier to get up and running compared to petrol. What’s more, you’ll want to look at how the material is fed in. Some shredders come with a tool to aid you in this which is not only easier but also much safer.
Finally, I would recommend looking at the size of the shredder. These are not the smallest tools in the world so you will need to make sure you have sufficient storage space for it when the shredder is not in use as leaving it outdoors will only damage it. If space is tight then there are foldable models which can be a handy feature.
Is a garden shredder a low maintenance tool?
If you purchase an electric garden shredder then this won’t require very much maintenance. However, petrol models do need a little more TLC so be prepared to perform ongoing tasks such as changing spark plugs and air filters as well as changing the oil on a regular basis.
Do I really need a garden shredder?
If you regularly prune the shrubs and trees in your garden then you’ll probably end up with a lot of wood waste. Finding somewhere to dispose of this can be tricky so, unless you’re willing to have a bonfire, a garden shredder is the most practical way to get rid of this waste.
What can I do with the shredded wood waste?
Wood can take a long time to decompose but as long as you shred it finely, you can use it in your garden. Many people like to add it to mulch or put it on their compost heap. Alternatively, you could use the chippings as a decorative layer in your flower beds and other areas of the garden.
Are garden shredders safe?
Garden shredders are bladed tools therefore there is a risk of injury. However, manufacturers design them to be as safe as possible and, provided you wear suitable protective gear and follow the instructions, you should have a relatively risk-free experience.
Are garden shredders environmentally friendly?
Reusing your garden waste as mulch is a very eco-friendly thing to do. Moreover, you’ll cut out trips to the tip which means you’re reducing your carbon footprint by not using your car. However, if you’re using a petrol garden shredder then you have to keep in mind that these emit noxious fumes which are damaging to the environment.
Can you put grass in a shredder?
Yes. Garden shredders are designed to work with green material including grass, leaves and tree cuttings.
What can I use instead of a shredder?
While a shredder is the most efficient option, there may be times that you can’t use it. In this case, you can break up the material by hand but this is time consuming or you may burn it. However, you have to consider the environmental impact of doing this.
As a seasoned expert in the field of garden power tools, I have dedicated over a decade to working with and reviewing a wide variety of lawn mowers. My extensive experience has allowed me to gain a deep understanding of the benefits and limitations of different types of mowers and garden tools.
Over the years, I have honed my skills in writing informative articles and creating helpful videos for various blogs and publications. This has given me the ability to not only recognise what makes a good lawn mower, but also to help you choose the perfect garden tool for your specific needs and requirements.
With my wealth of knowledge and expertise, I am confident that I can provide you with valuable insights and recommendations when it comes to selecting the right lawn mower for your lawn. So, whether you're looking for a battery cordless, electric, petrol, or robotic mower, you can trust in my expertise to guide you towards the best option for your garden.