Find the Suitable Chipper-Shredder for Your Property Maintenance

In the market for a wood chipper? Consider power, capacity and mobility to turn yard waste into useful mulch or fodder for compost.

| May/June 2011

  • Country Home Products Chipper-Shredder
    Your ATV will easily haul a self-powered wood chipper from DR Power Equipment.
    courtesy Country Home Products
  • Gritty Runs the Chipper
    Always be extra careful when you're running a chipper-shredder; especially if your name is Gritty.
    illustration by Brad Anderson
  • Stihl SH56 Shredder Vac/Blower
    For your yards, a Stihl SH 56 Shredder Vac/Blower may be what you need.
    courtesy Stihl
  • Industrial Wood Chipper
    Using a wood chipper helps professionals turn tree limbs into mulch.
    Peter Noyce/
  • ECHO Bear Cat Chipper-Shredder
    The ECHO Bear Cat SC2170 Chipper/Shredder is easy to move and easy to store.
    courtesy Bear Cat
  • Wallenstein’s BX62 Series of Chippers
    Wallenstein’s BX62 series of chippers includes a heavy-duty rotor and reversible chipping blades.
    courtesy Wallenstein by EMB Mfg.

  • Country Home Products Chipper-Shredder
  • Gritty Runs the Chipper
  • Stihl SH56 Shredder Vac/Blower
  • Industrial Wood Chipper
  • ECHO Bear Cat Chipper-Shredder
  • Wallenstein’s BX62 Series of Chippers

When it comes to yard waste and windfalls in your woodlot, almost no chore seems as tedious as bagging up the debris or loading limbs into the truck for yet another trip to the transfer station. Many years ago my attitude toward this waste changed when I got my hands on a used chipper-shredder that mounted to the front of my old Cub Cadet garden tractor. With that tool on my team, I began to see garden debris, fall leaves and tree trimmings as the actual windfall, and looked forward to converting all that seasonal waste into mulch and fodder for the compost heap.

Once considered a specialty tool, the modern chipper-shredder is now readily available and more affordable than ever before. But how do you choose? Considering that the tools used to reduce yard waste range in capability from light-duty electric shredders able to convert a bushel of dried leaves into a quarter bushel of mulch in 10 minutes to trailer-mounted dedicated chippers powered with diesel engines capable of converting 1,000 pounds of 8-inch-diameter tree limbs into a half-ton of chips in about the same time frame, you really need to know what you want to accomplish before taking the plunge.

Know your waste

Yard waste comes in many forms, but for the purpose of choosing the right volume-reducing machine, you’ll want to lump that stuff into one of two categories – chippable and shreddable. For the most part, leaves, small twigs, non-stemmy garden waste, and  hay and straw are shreddable, while larger diameter twigs, branches, bush prunings and cornstalks are chippable. And you’ll want to know whether you’ll be working with fresh or dry materials, as this will influence the kind and power capability of the chipper or shredder, or the chipper-shredder combination unit.

If you intend to simply shred dried tree leaves in the fall, an electric-powered dedicated shredder may be all you need, especially if your yard is less than half an acre. At the lightest end of the shredder market, you’ll find drum-shaped devices that use everything from string-trimmer blades to highly engineered spinning metal shredding knives to convert piles of leaves into piles of mulch (from $100 to about $200).

If this is the route you take, be sure to check whether the model you’re considering can process fresh, wet and dry leaves. Fresh or wet leaves have a tendency to clog the cutters on some shredders, so watch out.

If your waste-management work will be exclusively reducing piles of woody prunings, cornstalks and tree limbs, then you might consider taking the plunge on a dedicated chipper. Chippers come in many sizes and power ranges, but most utilize a heavy steel plate to which one or more chipping knives are attached, and most tend to be quite expensive ($2,000 or more) due to the nature of their heavy-duty work. As you feed a branch into the chipper, it comes into contact with the rapidly rotating knife or knives thousands of times per second and is quickly reduced to a series of chips – think of a supersonic potato slicer.  

3/30/2015 4:13:07 PM

Just recieved this email today and clicked the box to enter the sweepstakes for the chipper and it had expired? What kind of nonsense is that!

Live The Good Life with GRIT!

Grit JulAug 2016At GRIT, we have a tradition of respecting the land that sustains rural America. That's why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing to GRIT through our automatic renewal savings plan. By paying now with a credit card, you save an additional $6 and get 6 issues of GRIT for only $16.95 (USA only).

Or, Bill Me Later and send me one year of GRIT for just $22.95!

Facebook Pinterest Instagram YouTube Twitter

Free Product Information Classifieds Newsletters