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* From wood waste and leaves to mulch and compost,
* Free bark to lay on your paths and around your flower beds,
* Reduce waste and move it more easily.

I've used my garden shredders for many years.
But this year (2011) I'm without it. Already I've noticed the difference after spending hours with hand secateurs and loppers trying to reduce a pile of hedge branches into small enough pieces to move, then to fit in the green waste bin.

Both landscape gardeners and garden enthusiasts make good use of garden shredders nowadays. And this page explains how they work, how to use them, and the models that suit different garden needs. They include the ever popular leaf shredders.

Here's What A Garden Shredder Does For You

  • Reduce garden waste from a sprawling pile of cuttings and branches to a smaller volume that's easily managed by shovel and rake and moved in bags,
  • Make your own wood chip for paths or as mulch,
  • Save if you normally pay for removal of hedge cuttings,
  • Old tough stems of tomato and cabbage etc... compost quicker from fine shreds,
  • Shreds and chips have insulating properties well-used around plants and as a free-draining mulch.

TIP: Shred different types of material into separate piles - e.g. wood chip for paths and mulch - soft stems and greens for compost - leaves for mulch and potting compost...

Garden Shredders Work In Different Ways

You Can:-
  • ’Cut & Crush Quietly’ with twigs & branches,

  • ’Shred’ with vegetables, leaves, & light green wood,

  • ’Thrash & Bash’ chip bigger wood and shred leaves,

  • OR simply just Shred leaves, - find all these below ... ...
Some models described below are available in American some in the U.K. Read the reviews below to discover a machine to suit your job. You'll find links to all the gear below.

Big Is Often Better

  • – Definitely quicker
  • – Necessary for branches over 1 1/3” 40mm
  • – Heavy duty shredders avoid messy feeding as you can drop stuff straight in
  • – Larger shredders are further down page.

Cutting and Shredding

Americans think bigger is better – and with garden trees all over you need a machine to handle larger branches. These Patriot leaf and branch shredders take widths 2½” upward. The Honda engines in the CSV-2540H, and CSV-3090H for 3" wood, are the most reliable operators, quieter and with low emissions.

Even bigger? - Even easier! Jump down to Thrash and Bash below...

These cutting shredders can take leaves as well as branches.
But they need a second port for the branches. Lighter domestic designs have arms to help push light stuff through. A spinning disc with two sharp knives does the shredding. Among these the Al-Ko TCS 2500 is a versatile performer with 2 shredding discs and dedicated chipper port for 40mm branches. Find Al-Ko Electric Shredders on this link

The Al-Ko Micro Dynamic shredder produces either fine compostable stuff or wood chip due to an extra 5 removable blades. The Bosch AXT Rapid shredder are best used for lighter stuff – they don’t have separate branch ports. But they have guide plates inside the hopper to contain stuff, reduce noise, and improve shredding.
Bosch AXT 23 Turbine Cutting 3 in 1 is new. They say it does everything from branches up to 45mm to green material - sounds good for U.K. gardeners.

Cut and Crush Quietly



The Bosch AXT Quiet garden shredders process more weight in branches per hour than the material through-put for Bosch Rapid shredders. But you won’t feel hurried when using these machines.

Note: the ‘cut and crush’ garden shredders may disappoint you if used for soft light leafy twigs and leaves. But branches are drawn through easily once the teeth bite, with large forces applied through gears. The resulting 1” chips and shreds can be used for paths or mulch.

I use an Al-Ko Silent Power SP5000 with branches up to 40mm - take care with the knots and knobs of branch points. A 2.5KW motor drives a powerful toothed roller against a counter drum. They work with a peaceful chug chug sounding like a big clock.

The popular Bosch AXT 2200 Quiet Shredders uses a 2.2KW motor driving a toothed roller against a metal plate to chew branches up to 40mm. The AXT 2000 Quiet Shredder uses a cutting screw mechanism.

Don’t feed too much to the smaller garden shredders. You waste more time than you would have gained while trying to unblock any jam.

More on specialised garden shredders for leaves can be found below.

Impact, Thrash and Bash to
Chips and Shreds

You can save time standing around feeding stuff by just throwing it into the hopper with these machines. Instead of shredding knives, these use flails and hammers within a steel box with a fly-wheel to chip and shred, and screens to control output size.
Troy-Bilt 205cc Garden Shredder & Chipper


They often use dedicated ports for branches or for chipping. This Troy-Bilt Pull-Behind Chipper/Shredder — 205cc Briggs & Stratton OHV engine has good reviews and is well-suited to deliver in time saving, ease of use and a lot more.
More American chippers & shredders on this link including the 250cc Troy-Bilt

U.K. Gardeners with more than a bit to do can save on the haulage and harvest the wood chip with free delivery here on petrol driven shredders.

In addition to faster chipping of larger material, further advantages can include the independence of a gas powered engine, the way the chips or shreddings are delivered, plus vacuum attachments, towing bars etc...

Engines
The Briggs & Stratton engine is a solid long lasting engine and probably found on more garden machines than any other make of engine. I recommend giving all gas engines a short run periodically, especially over winter breaks.

More on specialised garden shredders for leaves can be found below.

Take care and be sensible. I find my garden shredder a pleasure to use.

Leaf Shredders

Some garden shredders are made specially to deal with leaves. Inside they have serrated cutting edges or whip cords. If you want to quickly reduce a pile of leaves to a manageable size for bagging and composting then these are for you. But more especially when you have to handle lots of leaves.

In a small garden a pile of rotting leaves will eventually make leaf mold if you have the space to store them. I collect leaves from the parks and gardens and my leaf mold makes valuable seed and potting compost.

However a shredder reduces waxy decay restistant leaves more quickly. But the main advantage of a leaf shredders or garden vacuums is in helping you to quickly reduce, move and store a large pile of leaves and in keeping your garden tidy. Check out the leaf shredder & picture details on this link - U.S.A.

  • Recycling leaves for composting is better than burning,
  • A large volume reduces to make them easier to move in bags,
  • Shredding speeds up the composting process,
  • Shredded leaves are more easily mixed in so avoiding leaf layers that may seal the compost heap,
  • The leaf shredder helps break down resistant waxy leaves such as Laurel.

This machine shreds leaves to course or fine, from wet or dry, including pine needles, grass clippings and wet or dry paper.
Check out a Leaf Shredder for your garden...

A standard 2000W rated electric kettle boils in about 3 minutes. So 800W garden shredders operating for 40 minutes use about 5.3 times more energy than for making a pot of tea. More on power consumption and sustainable energy coming soon...

How to use garden shredders safely

Lessons from my practical experience - these have to be stated and especially remembered when you're in a hurry to get done.
  • Don’t push your hand through the neck of the feeder - the branches will drag it into the crushing unit,
  • There's a good reason to follow manufacturers advise on wearing gloves,
  • With impact shredders or chippers … definitely follow advice to wear eye protection - some garden shredders can eject stuff back out,
  • Ensure the outlet is kept clear of a rising pile of shreds - otherwise it can cause a jam or overheating,
  • Disconnect machine before any clearing and maintaining because it's easy to accidentally switch it on,
  • Don’t shove your hand up the outlet to clear it while the machine is connected – use a Y shaped stick,
  • Take care when sweeping leaves off the soil that stones don’t get caught in the waste,
  • Where possible put the stout end of your branches through first,
  • Retain a firm stouter branch to hand for pushing through softer pliable twigs if necessary,
  • Take care with knots and knobs at branch points not to exceed cutting diameter,
  • Avoid shredding of old dry wood or seasoned wood which are both harder than fresh cut wood.

Garden Shredders To Suit Your
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