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Frequently Asked Garden Shredders Questions

Over the years we have collated a collection of the Frequently Asked Garden Shredder Questions. 

In truth, most of the questions would be answered if we used the American name and called all these machines ‘chippers’. 

Garden Shredders are designed to chop up woody clippings.  The most common type of shredder – Impact Shredders – do this by repeatedly chopping the cutting to chip away and create the characteristic wood chips output.

Garden Shredder Questions

Answers

What sort of shredder do I need for my garden?

This question is right at the heart of the purpose of this site. 

It is not easy to answer so we recommend you download our guide to buying the garden shredder that is right for you and your garden.

If you are in a hurry – just check out our “Types of Garden Shredder Page“.

Can I use my garden shredder to mulch wet autumn leaves?

If you have an impact or Turbine Cut shredder you can probably use it to mulch leaves.  If you search Amazon for ‘leaf mulcher’ you will see some photographs of people pushing leaves into their shredders.

The question we have is, “Why would you want to?”

One of the problems with using a shredder is that whatever you give it to mulch has to first pass through the feeder hopper.  For safety reasons these hoppers are kept as small as possible – think small letter box opening.  Passing a typical autumn’s garden leaves through a small letter box is not a quick process.

More importantly, there are many cheap, purpose built machines that will do 3 jobs in one – blow, vacumn and mulch.

That’s got to be a better idea than raking up the leaves, picking them up and squeezing them through the shredder, dealing with any blockages, and then, eventually, getting your mulched leaves back.

The VonHaus machine has nearly a thousand Amazon reviews and has a 4.4 Star rating.  That’s amazing.  I am buying one now.  Watch out for my personal VonHaus 3in1 review.

Will it shred - list of plants

  • Privet
  • Roses
  • Laurel
  • Holly
  • Firs
  • Pyracantha
  • Willow
  • Conifers
  • Maple
  • Ash
  • ..

Yes.

A good garden shredder will shred/chip any suitably sized, woody clippings.

Will it shred - non-plants

  • Cardboard
  • Newspaper
  • Plastic
  • Aluminium Cans
  • Kitchen waste
  • Grass
  • Seaweed – that one is my favourite

No.

This got to be a very long list.  I can understand questions on cardboard, newspaper and plastic.  There is an obvious confusion between office shredders – designed for securely disposing of typical office documents, and garden shredders.

Garden shredders will shred/chip any suitably sized, woody clippings.

Why anyone needs to ask if it will shred cans and kitchen waste escapes me.

Can it be kept outside?

No.

All shredders require quite high wattage (and hence pull quite large current).  I would strongly recommend you store them in a cool dry place.

Even storing them outside under a cover is not really safe.  No matter how good the cover the shredder will get damp.  Eventually damp will lead to electrical failure.

Can I get a cordless shredder?

No.

The power requirements for all garden shredders mean they need to be connected to the mains.

If you truly need the freedom to escape the mains (larger garden) you will need to consider a petrol machine.

Watch out for our petrol shredder review – coming soon.

Will I need an extension lead?

Most shredders come with a 4 or 5m cable.  If you are prepared to carry all your clippings to the shredder 4/5m may be enough.

In practice, we always want to move the shredder to where it is needed.  That means an extension lead is essential.  Make sure you get a 13Amp fused lead rated for outdoor use.

 All Lengths 13 AMP Weatherproof Mains Outdoor Extension Lead IP65 Orange 2 Socket (25m)

Can I use the output (shreddings) as mulch?

If you avoid including green pulpy waste in your shredding, the chippings are brilliant for use as mulch.
 
Chippings from a Quiet, Crusher Shredder
Chippings from a quiet, crusher shredder.

Can I use the output (shreddings) in my compost?

The output from any garden shredder can be great input for your compost process.  We discuss this more in our article on Rapid composting.
 
Cupped hands full of home made compost
Chippings from a quiet, crusher shredder.

I don't like buying from Amazon - where are other good places to buy a garden shredder?

It’s clear we are big fans of Amazon.  In a perfect world we would prefer everyone to buy a garden shredder from your local, specialst garden centre.  That way you would get clear, informed advice.  Sadly that is not always (not often?) possilbe.
You can buy from most of the big DIY stores.  Don’t expect to get much useful advice.  You might also find the range of shredders a little limited and from less well know suppliers.

How big a branch can I shred?

Every manufacturer provides the diameter of maximum branch size that it claims its shredders can chomp.  Apart from the Bosch Turbine Cut Shredders, we have found the manufacturers figures to be optimistic.  If you work on the principle that you will be able to shred materials up to about two thirds the size manufacturer’s claim, you will not be disappointed.

So, a claimed maximum size of 45mm is likely to be ok for up to 30mm. 

What other tools do I need to get the most from my garden shredder?

A garden shredder is intended to efficiently dispose of the cuttings from your garden.  The tools you need to get the best from your garden shredder are the tools you need to effectively trim, shape and prune your plants.

This means you are looking at:

  • Secateurs (hand pruners)
  • Hedge shears
  • Hedge trimmers
  • Tree loppers
  • Telescopic tree pruners
  • Pruning saws

This question comes up so frequently that we have started to include reviews of some of the essential tools needed to get the best from your garden shredder.  Take a look at “Anvil versus ByPass Secateurs and Loppers” and “Best Tree Loppers” for examples.

 

Last update on 2020-07-12 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API