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25 February 2013

Buying a Garden Shredder

With spring on the way you may be thinking of investing in a garden shredder. This may purely be to make it easier to dispose of your garden waste, or you may want to create useful, compostable material. Below are a few points for you to consider.

There are two types of shredder - impact shredders and roller shredders - which give you a similar product but in different ways.

Impact shredders have an inclined rotating plate with one or more blades which chop up the material as it is fed into the machine, and which is then ejected through the bottom of the shredder. Not all shredders come with a container which fits under the machine.

Roller shredders have a rotating ridged roller which crushes the feed material against a plate before dropping it out of the bottom of the shredder. The roller will draw material through the machine making feeding easier than with impact shredders but you may need to adjust the gap between the roller and plate regularly to keep the shredder working at it's best. Impact shredders will benefit from having their blades sharpened occasionally.

Impact shredders are noisier than roller shredders but are faster and can be found at a lower price. There are some on the internet for less than £100 but the customer reviews may put you off. Roller shredders start at about £150 but, as with most things, you get what you pay for.

Most shredders will deal with branches up to about 40mm in diameter so feed below this size shouldn't be a problem. Choose a machine with a regular-shaped hopper - if you can feed material into it easily the job will get done quicker. Straightish branches without too much greenery are ideal food for a shredder. Roller shredders are supposed to be more prone to clogging and are not as good at shredding leaves, as they tend to pass flat between the roller and plate. For both types of machine it is worth looking for one that can be opened easily to clear any blockages.

Check that you can move the shredder easily - some roller shredders are heavy and awkward machines to move around.

You will need a power supply for your electric shredder so you might need to buy an outdoor extension cable.

Most machines will shred prunings, but there is a trade off between speed and noise in use. If you canít stand noisy machines, there are quieter models, but they usually take a bit longer to do the job.

Always wear goggles, gloves and ear-defenders when using your shredder - don't wait till it is too late!!

I have found with my cheap impact shredder that it will deal with straightish, fairly thick branches ok, but that I have to spend some time in trimming off side growth so that it will fit through the relatively small feed hole. It also clogs if I try to feed it too much greenery, though this is remedied by including branches with fewer leaves. I have also found that mine doesn't shred leylandii prunings very well but will turn buddleia branches into ideal material to mix with grass clippings in the compost heap.

I hope that you have found this useful and that you manage to find a shredder to suit your needs.
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