Electric Garden Shredders and Wood Chippers – Do They Work?


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Earthwise Shredder Chipper

Gardeners know the importance of keeping their gardens clean and free of excessive debris such as branches and leaves. However, trimming and clipping the garden, no matter the size, can result in hours of seemingly endless work.  Garden shredders and wood chippers can cut those hours dramatically. Previously, the main options with shredders were size and manufacturer.  Now, fuel-powered versus electric is another choice. Any gardener would want to choose the best option.

Are electric garden shredders and wood chippers any good? Yes. This is an easy-to-use tool that will cut gardening time in half. Not only does it simplify trimming and cleaning of the garden, but electric garden shredders swiftly transform excess garden materials into organic mulch and compost that add a hefty dose of natural nutrients to the garden.

When considering purchasing an electric garden shredder, it is important to know all the facts. We are going to discuss the ins and outs of the electric garden shredder. We will be discussing the different types (yes, there is more than one) and how they can benefit gardeners and growing gardens.

What is an Electric Garden Shredder?

A garden shredder is essentially a gardening tool that cuts down on garden maintenance time. The shredder works to breakdown the excess material in the garden, especially the larger, peskier items like twigs and branches. These larger materials are not only a struggle to trim and clean from the garden but take up quite a bit of space in the waste bin, too.

A few different garden shredders are on the market. The two most popular options are gas and electric. Just as it sounds, the gas shredder is propelled using gasoline, while an electric model relies solely on electricity in order to operate.

Whether a gardener ends up buying a gas or electric model will depend on specific needs and benefits to each particular situation. However, both types of shredders were designed to make trimming and pruning the garden a breeze.

When deciding to add a garden shredder to the home, rest assured that the hours in the garden pulling twigs, branches and leaves will be cut down. This is the main reason why so many gardeners eventually break down and buy one for the home.

The important thing to do before purchasing is to understand what sets electric garden shredders apart from the rest. In this next section, we will be discussing all the must-know details behind garden shredders.

The Benefits of Using an Electric Garden Shredder

Any gardener who owns a shredder, electric or gas, will tell others just how handy they can be. However, that isn’t enough for most newcomers or avid gardeners who have become trained and programmed into their regular routine.

Aside from that, it can be tough to choose between gas or electric. Which one is better? What can an electric garden shredder do for the garden and the gardener? Here are the top four reasons to consider using an electric garden shredder:

Electric Garden Shredders Have an Immense Amount of Power

Certainly, gardeners have seen the bulk and large quantity of materials that can intrude on a garden. Trying to deal with this big amount of material can be a challenge, so much so that some gardeners may not even think a high-powered machine could help.

The great thing about electric garden shredders is that they come with an immense amount of power behind them, some having up to 15 amps of power. That’s a great deal of cutting and shredding power!

No matter what type a gardener ends up purchasing, rest easy knowing that the shredder can chop up clippings big and small with ease. Even tree branches can fit, but make sure they aren’t too large. Most electric garden shredders can get by with chopping and shredding through branches and twigs less than three inches long.

When feeding larger items into the electric garden shredder, always make sure to put the thickest part in first. This will help to reduce the chances of clogging or breaking down the blades.

They’re Also Great for the Environment.

We can say right off the bat that gas garden shredders may perform just as well as electric, but they just aren’t as good on the environment. Since the electric garden shredders don’t use any petroleum gas, they are instantly the better choice for the eco-friendly gardener.

Another great way in which garden shredders are helpful to the environment is for the simple fact that they chop garden materials into smaller clippings, so gardeners don’t have to deal with making excessive trips to the dump. It’s also easily biodegradable, which, of course, is a huge benefit to our environment.

The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.

Genesis 2:15

They are Easy to Use

Some people may find themselves leaning against buying a garden shredder for the simple reason that they think they are challenging. Rest assured that these pieces of equipment are not as technical as the brand new smartphones on the market and can be learned how to operate fairly quickly.

Concerned about how heavy the garden shredder may be? While there are some larger shredders on the market, electric garden shredders used for home use will be compact and lightweight enough for anyone to operate with ease. Most are under 30 pounds, but for gardeners who are still concerned about weight, make sure to find a model that is smaller-scaled to suit specific needs.

Electric Garden Shredders Allow you to Make Your Own Mulch and Compost

Electric Shredder Mulch

Perhaps the absolute biggest reason why anyone would consider adding a shredder to their routine is to create their own mulch and compost quickly and easily.

We have a full article you can check out about making mulch for information! How to Make Mulch at Home – Full Mulching Guide!

Quick Note on Compost and Mulch

Some gardeners do not think of this as a big deal, so they might not consider purchasing an electric garden shredder or even bothering with making mulch or compost in the first place. But it is important to know that using mulch and compost is one of the best ways to grow a strong, healthy garden! This is just one of the major benefits of opting for an electric garden shredder.

We have written many articles are promoting the use of mulch, compost, and no-till garden. Please browse our site for more great information!

The Disadvantages of Using an Electric Garden Shredder

Of course, nothing in this world is perfect, and that includes electric garden shredders. While there isn’t a huge list of downfalls, there are still a few key disadvantages to choosing an electric garden shredder as opposed to other methods. The top three disadvantages of this type of garden shredder include:

The Power Cord Can be a Bit of a Hassle

Whether a phone is plugged into the wall or a hairdryer is being used, one thing that is sure to be annoying and a hassle is the power cord. Power cords can get in the way and limit range and movement, which is true for an electric garden shredder that must be plugged into an outlet.

With having to struggle with a power cord while gardening, the gardener will have a more challenging time trying to reach all areas of the garden. The power cord is bound to get in the way at some point, and having to constantly switch locations to adapt to the power cord can be quite a nuisance.

Secondly, there is a limited range with a power cord. Some gardeners may find it challenging to reach all areas of their garden while trying to clip and trim. This is especially true for any gardener who has a notably larger garden.

To put it simply, the power cord is going to be the biggest problem for gardeners while using an electric garden shredder. It’s certainly not the end of the world, but some gardeners may find it simply too much of a nuisance to find it beneficial. A good extension cord will probably come in very handy with one of these tools!

The Engines are Rather Small

Another downfall to electric garden shredders is the fact that the engines are smaller compared to other types of shredders. For someone with a small scale garden, this won’t be an issue. Smaller gardens won’t need too much power to get the job done, so an electric shredder is still an ideal choice.

However, someone with a large garden might find it challenging to use an electric model. This is because the shredder won’t be able to breakdown all of the leftover materials in a timely fashion. It may not be able to keep the power up long enough to tackle those larger gardens that require loads more clipping and trimming.

Also, keep in mind that these electric shredders are not going to be able to handle thick branches from large trees and bushes. This tool is built more for shredding leaves, small twigs, trimmings from bushes, and garden waste from flowers and vegetable plants.

They Cost Less

This could be looked at as both a positive and a negative, depending on the circumstances. Electric garden shredders are notably less expensive than their gas-powered counterparts. For some, this may sound like whistles and bells going off as they cheerily head off to the store.

However, remember that old saying: “you get what you pay for”. While there are many great advantages to using an electric garden shredder, the fact that there are less power and the inability to take on larger, challenging gardens is a major downside. Gas-powered models have a lot more shredding capabilities, so it may be a better idea for someone with a big garden.

At the end of the day, someone with a small garden can get by with an electric garden shredder, and love the price tag. However, gardeners who are in the business for something extremely powerful that can get the job done might want to shell out those few extra dollars.

Types of Electric Garden Shredders

Another great thing about electric garden shredders is that a few different options are available. The two most common types include impact and quiet shredders, and we are going to take an in-depth look at both models. This will help gardeners make the right choice when adding a shredder to their gardening routine.

Impact Shredders

An impact shredder is likely the go-to model when it comes to electric garden shredders because this model can deal with sappy materials with ease. This, in itself, is a major benefit to gardeners as they will not have to stop every few minutes to unclog the device.

While other models are likely to become clogged when dealing with sappy, wet materials, the impact of electric garden shredder slices and dices without the fear of clogging up. This is all thanks to the larger, oversized blades found in impact shredders.

The impact electric garden shredder is also known to be very easy to use and can be maneuvered through a garden easily, no matter the size of garden. This is good news for anyone who is concerned about weight or abilities while clipping their garden.

However, while the impact model is ideal for slicing through dry and wet materials with ease, that doesn’t mean there are no disadvantages. The major downfall of the impact model is that it can be excessively loud. Some gardeners might not mind, but will their neighbors?

The second disadvantage of using an impact garden shredder is that the blades will need replaced once they have become dull. This isn’t a major inconvenience, especially in smaller gardens. But at the end of the day, having to spend more money on a piece of equipment can be a bit frustrating, so it is something to consider.

ProsCons
Easy to UseCan be Loud
Cuts Through Sappy/Wet Materials EasilyBlades Must be Replaced When Dull
Can Handle Small & Large Gardens 

Drum (Quiet) Shredders

The drum (quiet) electric garden shredder is the second most popular option and comes with its own set of advantages and disadvantages. While it may be surprising, there is actually little to no similarities between the two, aside from the fact that they have the same goal: to provide a better clipping and trimming experience.

The biggest benefit of choosing a quiet shredder is that it’s quiet. Unlike the loud impact shredder, the quiet shredder is able to clip through excess materials without the annoying and ear-ringing noises. Many find this as a plus as they don’t have to worry about loud, abrasive sounds, and neither do those around them.

However, one should know that quiet electric garden shredders do not have as much cutting power as the impact model. This is because the quiet shredder uses a cutting drum, rather than oversized blades. This type of design is best used on thicker items like tree branches and twigs.

Since the quiet shredder uses a cutting drum rather than blades, gardeners never have to worry about replacing parts on a quiet shredder. This means less money being spent over time, which is another positive mark for the quiet shredder. However, the absence of blades also means that sappy materials will quickly clog a quiet shredder.

This doesn’t mean that the quiet shredder is any less efficient, though. Someone who does not deal with an excess of sappy materials like leaves will find the quiet shredder to get the job completed swiftly. 

ProsCons
Doesn’t Make a Lot of NoiseClogs Easily
No Worry of Replacing BladesIs Not Able to Handle Sappy Materials
Efficient on Harder Material Like TwigsNot as Much Cutting Power

Should You Buy an Electric Garden Shredder with a Bag?

When buying an electric garden shredder, another option available is one with a bag or collection box or one without. So which one is best? Whether or not a gardener opts for a bagless or bagged garden shredder is completely up to the gardener and his/her specific needs.

  • A bagless electric shredder will immediately toss the clippings and trimmings back onto the garden. This is ideal for the gardener who doesn’t want to fuss with making compost and wants to add nutrient-rich, organic materials right back onto their garden.
  • A bagged electric shredder is ideal for those who want to toss their material or use it for compost. When trying to create compost, gardeners will need a bag or bin for those materials to quickly move from one location to the other. On the other hand, those who simply want to toss the excess clippings have an easier experience with a bagged model.

A large price difference is not evident between bagged and bagless electric shredders.

How to Choose an Electric Garden Shredder That is Right for You

Impact or quiet? Bag or no bag? More powerful and heavy, or lightweight and easy-to-use? With so many different electric garden shredders on the market, it can be quite a challenge to decide which one is right for a certain situation. Let’s look at the top 5 things to consider when buying a shredder:

The Size of the Garden

The biggest thing to consider when choosing an electric garden shredder is the size of the garden. Remember, someone who has an excessively large garden in their backyard may struggle with an electric garden shredder because they aren’t as powerful and can’t take on the workload.

Someone who is dealing with a big garden may benefit from a gas-powered shredder. However, that doesn’t mean it is completely necessary. A garden shredder with at least 15 amps of power and a strong cutting blade maybe able to get the job completed.

On the other hand, someone with a fairly small garden can find even the most basic electric garden shredders useful. In fact, a superior electric garden shredder can be found on the market for less than $100. They still have the ability to breakdown and shred materials, although they may be more limited when it comes to larger materials like twigs and branches.

How Much and What Type of Materials You Are Discarding

Whether a gardener is dealing with a small or large garden, each garden is going to deal with a good amount of leftover materials that need a pickup. For some gardeners, this may be even more of a hassle if they live in an area with an excess of falling leaves or twigs.

It is necessary to think about how much and what type of material will typically be discarded. Someone who is only worrying about sappy materials, for the most part, will find that they need an impact shredder to ensure the blades can chop through the damp items.

Gardeners who are struggling with twigs, branches, and more bulky and dry materials, have the option of going impact or quiet. Remember that impact models will be a bit more powerful than their quiet counterparts.

We also recommend finding a model that has a good branch capacity. Some models are limited to less than 2 inches long, while others can handle a bit more.

What You Are Going to Do With the Clippings

Some people want to clip their garden and throw the material away, and that is okay. Even someone who is planning to throw out their materials will benefit from an electric garden shredder as it breaks down the items to be easily tossed.

However, we do not recommend throwing out this very useful material! We promote not disturbing the soil and using compost and mulch on top of the soil at all times. So a garden shredder is a perfect tool for making free mulch and compost from all the material you already have in your garden! It is a great recycling tool!

To create compost, make sure to use an electric shredder with a bag. On the other hand, someone who wants to toss mulch directly on the garden will find the bagless model the best choice.

What Features are Desired

Every model of electric garden shredder is going to have its own special features. For instance, some may be self-feeding, which makes the process easier and quicker on the gardener, while other larger hoppers have wheels for maneuvering and abilities.

It’s important to do ample research on the available models before purchasing as to make the best choice possible.

Tips and Tricks When Using an Electric Garden Shredder

It is important to do the job safely and correctly. That’s why we have compiled a list of the top 8 tips to remember when using an electric garden shredder. These tips will ensure gardeners can safely and effectively chip and trim:

  1. Don’t Wear Loose Clothing. Wearing loose clothing can potentially be a hazard when dealing with an impact electric garden shredder. In fact, whichever model is chosen, gardeners should avoid wearing loose clothing and items as they can get in the way and make the experience more stressful and time-consuming.
  2. Wear Protective Gear. Safety glasses are a good idea to wear while using a shredder. Ear protection would be especially important for those using an impact shredder. A good, sturdy pair of gardening gloves will keep your hands protected, and they won’t fatigue as easily when struggling with wood, twigs, etc.
  3. Shred the Material Shortly After Pruning. Wood will be significantly softer and easier to shred if done shortly after pruning the garden.
  4. Alternate Between Sappy and Dry Material While Shredding. This is especially great advice for anyone using an impact shredder. Alternating between sappy, wet materials, and drier items will ensure the blades have less of a chance of clogging up. This will also help when trying to make compost.
  5. Always Clean the Electric Garden Shredder When Finished. Cleaning out the shredder, especially an impact shredder, will keep it from getting clogged the next time around. Sometimes it may be necessary to clean it out mid-shred.
  6. Make Sure it’s Unplugged When Cleaning. Never try to clean the garden shredder when it’s still plugged into the wall as this could be disastrous. Instead, unplug the equipment and make sure the blades are not spinning before entering.
  7. Don’t Try and Overload the Machine. This could cause the electric shredder to stall out. Avoid overloading by always putting the thicker part of the branches and twigs in first.
  8. Try to Avoid Stones and Rocks. When feeding material into an electric garden shredder, do not insert any hard materials that can’t be shredded, such as rocks and stones. This could blunt the blades, clog the machine overall, or fly out from the machine and potentially cause damage.

To see one of these in action, check out this video.

Recommended Garden Shredders

Earthwise GS70015 15-Amp Garden Corded Electric Chipper/Shredder, Collection Bin (Amazon Link)

The Earthwise GS70015 Electric Chipper/Shredder is our top choice based on our research and looking through user feedback. This has a standard 15 amp motor which should give plenty of power for what this tool is designed for.

We also like the fact that it has a nice collection bin underneath the tool. This eliminates the need for a bag or raking up the mulch afterward.

Sun Joe CJ602E 15-Amp Electric Wood Chipper/Shredder (Amazon Link)

The Sun Joe CJ602E Electric Wood Chipper/Shredder is our second best choice. This tool also has the same standard 15 amp motor which should plow through most leaves, twigs, and other small garden waste.

This shredder is cheaper than our top option but it also does not have a bag or collection bin, so keep that in mind when deciding what to purchase based on your needs.

Conclusion

Electric garden shredders are easy to use, cut down on routine gardening cleanup, and are great for the environment. They also allow us to reuse what God has given us, creating mulch and compost easier than ever before. Many benefits are evident to using an electric garden shredder, but it’s likely the better option for someone with a smaller garden as the power isn’t as strong as a gas-powered model.

Check out Our Favorite Products page to find everything you might need to help make your garden a success!




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Corey Leichty

Hi, I’m Corey and I love using gardening as a way to provide food for my family, learn life lessons alongside my wife, Andrea, and teach life lessons to my two sons. Do you have gardening questions? Not finding what you are looking for? Please feel free to Ask a Question (Click Here!) and I will get back with you as soon as I can!

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