Impact or roller? Petrol or electric? This expert guide will help you pick out the best garden shredder, reveal typical prices and round-up popular shredders.
he best garden shredders can churn through garden waste quietly and quickly without getting blocked up. The worst we’ve tested struggle to mulch even the flimsiest of branches, get jammed easily and make clearing garden material a noisy nightmare.
Petrol or electric garden shredder?
Most gardeners will opt for an electric garden shredder. But it’s a good idea to check that the length of the cable is sufficient for your garden. Some brands skimp on cable length, so you might need an outdoor extension cable. If you don’t have an outdoor power supply then you might want to go for a petrol model. These models are normally more powerful, but will be more expensive and will need servicing regularly.
Types of garden shredders
There are two main types: impact and roller.
Impact garden shredders
Impact shredders – also known as rapid shredders – are generally the cheapest type of garden shredder and the noisiest. They have a blade mechanism that slices up garden material into very fine pieces and don’t block as often. Impact shredders are more suited to chopping up leaves and lighter garden foliage rather than big chunks of wood, and are typically lighter than roller models. If you opt for a impact shredder try to look for one that has more than one blade as they will get blunt less quickly. You should also choose a machine with a regular-shaped hopper as it will help you feed material into the shredder more easily and get the job done quicker.
Pros of impact garden shredders
Budget options Lightweight Don’t block as often
Cons of impact garden shredders
See our impact garden shredder reviews.
Roller garden shredders
Roller shredders, or sometimes know as quiet shredders, use a ridged roller to crush and cut garden debris. The roller action draws material through the machine, which can make it easy to shred lots of waste. Unfortunately, these shredders do tend to get blocked by greener, more fibrous material and are normally more expensive. Before buying a roller shredder, make sure you can move it around easily. They can be pretty weighty machines. You should also check that you can adjust the gap between the roller and the plate. Not being able to do so could result in ineffective shredding.
Pros of roller garden shredders
Great for shredding lots of waste
Cons of roller garden shredders
Expensive More likely to get blocked Heavy See our roller garden shredder reviews.
Price: how much does good garden shredder cost?
Garden shredders start from about £100, although you could pay more than £400, depending on what features and type you want. Impact shredders are cheaper than roller models. The starting price is around £100, although we’d recommend spending around £200 to get a really good model.
Roller shredders cost from £150 up to £500, but you can pick up a Best Buy for around £250. Generally, it can pay to spend a bit more to get a good garden shredder. Although if you do your research you can definitely find a quality budget model, too.
Garden shredder features
Using a good garden shredder can make clearing garden waste a breeze, but a bad model will struggle to slice anything and get blocked up every five minutes. The following features can really help: Safe and easy access to the roller This will keep the time spent clearing blockages to a minimum. Collection box To help reduce the mess when you’re gardening and make it easier to transport the shredded material. Tamper or reverse setting Both can help force items back out of the shredder if there’s a blockage. Wheels If you have a big garden, wheels will make it easier to move your shredder around. Accessories You’ll need to buy some basic safety equipment to use a shredder, including goggles, gloves and ear defenders.
Repairing a garden shredder
Blockages are the most-common reason for a garden shredder not working. Always turn off your machine before attempting to unblock it or you could face life-changing injuries. Blades can also become blunt over time and may need to be replaced. Check with your shredder’s manufacturer if they can supply spare parts, such as blades. Expensive petrol models can be serviced by garden-machinery specialists.
Using your shreddings
Don’t throw out your garden shreddings as they be used in the garden. They can be added in small quantities when making garden compost or they can be left to rot down on their own for a couple of years. This woody material will steal nitrogen from the soil when added fresh but it’s great for making paths with as it will stand up to wear and can be topped up when it breaks down. Learn how to make garden compost.
Garden shredders compared
Below, we’ve listed the key specs and features for some of the most popular garden shredders.
Makita UD2500, £270
This heavy-duty Makita shredder costs about the average for a roller. It comes with a collection box which should help with keeping the garden tidy while you work. And the cable length is really generous, so it’s perfect for those of you with larger gardens. Unfortunately it doesn’t come with a tamper, so let’s hope it isn’t prone to blockages.
Bosch AXT Rapid 2200, £169
Bosch’s impact garden shredder is really lightweight at just 12kg. It comes with a tamper included which should make loosening blockages super easy. You’ll need to buy a separate collection box for all your mulch and potentially an extension lead because the electric cable is quite short. The most important thing is how well it shreds, though.
Tips for using your shredder
Shred material shortly after pruning, as the wood will be a bit softer and will compost down more easily. Alternate sappy, green waste such as hedge trimmings with more dry, woody material to stop the blades from clogging. Clean out after shredding sappy material or it will clog the blades.
Make sure the shredder is disconnected from the mains before trying to clear any blockages. Some saps are irritants so use gloves and eye protection, as well as ear defenders.
Keep the shreddings from different types of material separate: wood for mulch and green for composting. Take care that stones don’t get put in the shredder, as they will blunt the blade, clog the machine or they could fly out.
Where possible, put the thicker end of your branches through first. Try not to stuff too much or too large branches in at once, and if you don’t have a tamper, keep a stout branch for pushing through softer material.