Learning how to use a garden shredder effectively is the key to good shredding performance, longer shredder life and low maintenance costs.  Using a shredder is very easy.  Unfortunately, this means they are also easy to abuse.

The Garden Shredder User’s Charter

I love my garden shredder.  It produces enough organic mulch to help prevent weeds on the flowerbeds.  Any excess mulch can be composted easily.

It has been many years since I have taken any hedge trimmings or tree prunings to the tip.

Using a garden shredder is one of the most eco-friendly additions to any garden.  Eco-friendly that is, if you get the maximum usage and life from your shredder.  If it breaks, needs servicing or has to be returned, its carbon footprint is going to increase.

To me it makes total sense to get the most possible use from your shredder for the longest possible time.  That means treating it well.

To that end, we have created this Garden Shredder User’s Charter (user guide)

Garden Shredder User Guide

The concept for this guide came about when I was researching the Sun Joe UK-CJ601E. 

Sun Joe UK-CJ601E

The Sun Joe range of garden shredders/chippers is new to the Uk but are very well known in the US.  I wanted to include the Sun Joe in our latest roundup review of the best impact shredders. Consequently, I was reviewing the comments over on Amazon.com and found an insightful article by a lady called K. Wright.  It is well worth a look if you have the time.

Here’s what K. Wright had to say:

Sun Joe and I are a team. We have a common enemy: The Unrelenting Jungle. We also have an understanding. It is as follows:

– Branches bigger than 1.5″ are called firewood, not mulch.
– Branches will be made as straight as reasonably possible prior to mulching
– Green, sappy, gunky, viny or otherwise chewy items are followed up with dry, tasty, seasoned wood prior to the day’s end
– The human operator will wear safety glasses, gloves, and earplugs
– Sun Joe will chip the Unrelenting Jungle into manageable mulch

With these things in mind, Sun Joe and I have been cooperating happily for two years now. The Unrelenting Jungle is slowly becoming tamed into something that could be called a ‘yard.’

K. Wright. Amazon.com review of the Sun Joe Garden Shredder

Inspired by this review – here is the Garden Shredder Review’s User Charter

User Charter

Pile of logs with ends drilled to make a bug hotel
Logs left to create a bug hotel

In following instructions the rules below are based on the following statement:

“I acknowledge that it is my job to allow the garden shredder to do its job most effectively.”

  1. Before using the Shredder, I will spray the blades or cutter with WD-40  – good practice with all of your garden tools – it helps stop ‘stuff’ sticking.
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  2. The operator will always wear gloves, googles and, ear plugs or ear defenders when feeding the beast.  (Ear defenders may not be needed for the quietest Turbine Cut or crusher shredders).
  3. I will buy good, outdoor extension leads so I can move the shredder to wherever it is needed.  I will not drag my hedge cuttings to the shredder unless this is unavoidable.
  4. The Garden Shredder will be used for woody waste only.  Soft, green, non-fibrous waste will be crushed or scrunched-up by hand and added to the composter.
  5. Where soft, green or wispy waste does pass through the shredder, I will not waste my time complaining that it has not been shredded.  This is not what a garden shredder is designed to do.
  6. Branches above 40mm in diameter will (as per K. Wright above) be called logs and used for firewood.  For those of us who can no longer burn logs we will stack them in a quiet corner of the garden for population as a bug hotel.
  7. For larger branches with numerous lateral branches, the user will examine the size of the joint to ensure it can pass through the shredder.  If the joint exceeds 40mm (replace 40mm with the maximum cutting diameter of your particular model of shredder), use lopping shears to reduce the lateral branching until the joint is small enough to fit your shredder.
  8. Where green, sappy waste does get dragged through the shredder I will always follow that immediately with good, dry, woody branches.
  9. Stones and soil are kryptonite to your garden shredder’s blades and cutters.  As a user I will never:
    1. Pull up weeds or plants and feed into the shredder
    1. Scoop leaves or over loose materials off the lawn or a flower bed to feed directly into the shredder.
  10. I will not attempt to force branches into the shredder. Impact shredder blades are designed to chop and chip away at larger branches (hence the more common US name – Wood Chipper).  Pushing branches in will stop and jam the blade
  11. Wherever practicable, the shreddings will be used as mulch or compost.  Trips to the tip will be avoided if possible.
  12. I will ensure the shredder is clean and dry before putting it away.  A final spray of the cutter or blades with WD-40 will help prevent rusting and maintain their condition.


There is no rocket science here.  The basic mode of use for all Electric Garden Shredders is the same – got branch, feed into machine and let the machine do its job. 

Restricting your use of the machine to woody waste means you are using it for the purpose for which it was designed.  By doing so you will get far better shredding performance, fewer blockages, and you will be far less likely to have serious maintenance issues.

Last update on 2024-05-30 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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