Guide to Garden ShreddersWritten on 06/07/2013 at 15:00
At Garden4Less we want to make sure that you select the correct garden shredder for your shredding requirements and that's why we have come up with this simple guide. There are many good reasons to buy a garden shredder and more and more people are buying the most popular electric models for domestic use.
Advantages of Shredding
The advantages of owning a shredder include the obvious one of reducing down waste material to avoid bonfires or trips to rubbish tips. However it is what you can do with this waste material that is the bonus and can offset the cost of the machine over time.
Shredded woody material especially makes a great mulch to spread over areas of bare soil to suppress weeds and retain moisture in the ground. As the material decomposes it can also put back nutrients into the soil. To be on the safe side it is best to store your heap of shreddings for a month or more before spreading to avoid leaching of acid organic fluids.
Large woody shreddings spread about 3 inches deep should last a couple of seasons before disappearing naturally into your soil.
Things to Look for in a Garden Shredder
As with any electrical appliance there are many options regarding size, price and quality. A complicating factor with garden shredders is that there are 2 different types and they work in completely different ways.
Impact Shredders - Lower Cost - Higher Decibels
The cheapest and most common shredders use a spinning blade to cut the material into small pieces, in a similar fashion to a food processor. The advantage of this type is the price and the simplicity of the blades, which are a bit like oversize razor blades. Replacement blades are usually under £20 and can be fitted by someone with minimal DIY skills and a couple of tools.
Impact shredders are also lightweight and easy to move about and store. The disadvantage of impact shredder is mostly the noise and the fact that cutting blades will eventually go blunt and need replacing. The frequency of replacement will depend on the material you shred, and the quality of the blade. If you try to push too much in then the blade will not be able to chop it efficiently and the machine may block.
All domestic shredders have limited openings for safety reasons so although soft material can be shredded it can be time consuming putting it in and this material may also cover the blades with a sticky substance if it is wet.
Quiet Crushing type shredders - Higher cost - Lower decibels
With one exception (the Bosch AXT2000HP) all these shredders use a metal cog to draw in the branches and crush them against a plate.
The advantage of this is that the machine is much quieter and can self feed if the branches are long and don't have large side shoots. Crushing shredders also produce a large size of shredding which some people consider a disadvantage if they are composting the waste. Another advantage of crushing shredders is that there are no sharp blades to go blunt so maintenance is minimal. Crushing type shredders are far more pleasant and faster to use.
The main disadvantage of crushing type shredders is that they are designed mainly for woody material and softer smaller green plant matter may pass through untouched. If the green material is leaves on a branch you are shredding then it is likely to be shredded but thin soft green stems are more suitable for impact shredders.
The Decision Is Yours!
Whatever shredder you buy make sure you wear gloves and eye protection when using them, also consider ear defenders if you have a noisy model.
Take care to trim branches appropriately before putting them in the shredder and don't force too much in at once. As you use your shredder more you will get used to its performance and produce copious amount of shreddings. Some shredders come with a bag or box but with some it is an optional extra to consider