Find the Suitable Chipper-Shredder for Your Property Maintenance

You have plenty to consider if you're in the market for a chipper-shredder.

| May/June 2011

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.

(Enter our chipper-shredder sweepstakes and possibly win either an ECHO Bear Cat SC2170 Chipper-Shredder or the GreenWorks 15-Amp Electric Chipper-Shredder.)

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.

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!

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