Sometimes when I head out into my garden I am overwhelmed at the amount of trimming I need to do. There’s typically branches and leaves that need to be trimmed every weekend, and after a long day of trimming I find myself stuck with a huge pile in my garden waste bin; and have the time it won’t even close. It’s not a ton of work, but it’s really made me consider an electric garden shredder.
So, are electric garden shredders any good? To put it simply, yes. Electric garden shredders quickly and easily turn your garden materials into nutrient-rich mulch and compost that helps grow your plants. This is a tool any avid gardener should have.
Of course you don’t want to just run out the door and buy an electric garden shredder because they have known benefits. If you’re not sure about what mulch and compost is, then you wouldn’t be making an informed decision. And if you don’t know about the different types of garden shredders available to you, you may end up picking a model that doesn’t fit your garden size or needs.
The Benefits of an Electric Garden Shredder
The best gardeners will tell you how great electric garden shredders are. They cut your gardening routine time in half, and they can help add plenty of nutrients to your garden in a flash. So what specifically can these handy gadgets do?
- Chopping powder. First and foremost, electric garden shredders have the power to chop up your garden clippings into tiny pieces that are far more easier to get rid of. This means that you can save plenty of space in your garden waste bin to last you the entire month, as you won’t have to worry about shoving down those bigger tree branches or trying to compact all your larger clippings into one area.
- Helps the environment. Not only that, but you will be actively helping the environment with your smaller shreds of garden clippings- and that’s something I think we can all agree is a positive thing.
- Make your own compost and mulch. Perhaps two of the most important reasons you would want an electric garden shredder is the fact that you can make compost and mulch with ease. This is perfect for those who know how dreadful it can be to make your own supply, or if you’re first starting out and want it to be a rather simple project.
Compost and mulch? What’s that? If you’re unsure about what compost and mulch is, you might find the electric garden shredder unnecessary. Learning the importance of compost and mulch can take you from a typical, store-bought garden, to a garden that’s nutrient dense and overflowing with happy healthy plants.
The Disadvantages of Electric Garden Shredders
It’s not all sunshine and rainbows when it comes to electric garden shredders. Even these handy tools have their disadvantages to them.
- Power cords. Probably the biggest issue with an electric garden shredder is they need to be plugged in in in order to work. What does that mean for the gardener? Less working space! Which is highly unfortunate. Another reason to hate power cords? They post a tripping hazard, and that could potentially cause some serious damage if you land incorrectly.
- Small engine size. Another disadvantage of an electric garden shredder is the smaller engine. This is fine if you’re working on smaller scaled gardens, but if you have a big job on your hands, this type of shredder might not be ideal. The smaller engine size is unable to handle large loads of materials, so keep that in mind before you buy.
What is Compost and How do You Make it
To put it plain and simple, compost is decomposed organic ingredients including leaves, twigs, and lawn clippings. It is referred to as ‘black gold’ by gardeners because of the amazing amount of benefits it has on gardens, as the nutrients provided from the organic matter enriches the soil for healthier plants.
So how does one create their own compost? It’s simple when you have an electric garden shredder. All you need to do is this:
- Place the clippings from your garden- the leaves, lawn shredding, branches and twigs- into a large bin. You can add other materials as well if you’d like, such as fruit rings and eggshells from your kitchen.
- After you have enough brown and green organic matter (they should be equal parts brown to green) you need to apply moisture. Without it, you will not start the composting process. Don’t put too much moisture, though. You want to keep the organic matter damp, not saturated.
- The last key ingredient to the perfect compost is oxygen, and you can add oxygen to your compost by turning it every two weeks. You don’t want to do it more often than that so the middle of the compost can ‘heat up’, which causes decomposition.
The entire process can take anywhere from 1 to 6 months, depending on how big your pile is and how often you’re turning it. Once your compost is done you will need to incorporate it INTO the soil, tilling until the compost is mixed generously with the soil.
What is Mulch and How do You Make it
Compost takes plenty of time and skill to create and the benefits are huge. But if you don’t want to take the time and energy to create compost, there’s another excellent option for helping your garden grow healthy and strong-mulch.
If you’re thinking about adding mulch to your garden, you will be surprised to find out that mulch uses the same exact ingredients as compost: that means all your lawn shreds, leaves, wood chips and branches can be used in mulch- without the wait time, turning, and moisture.
Here’s where an electric garden shredder comes in handy once again. You can’t just throw giant branches on top of your garden and expect it to help in growth. You need finely shredded materials to create mulch, and you can easily accomplish this with an electric garden shredder.
Once you have fed all of your clippings through the garden shredder, simply toss the organic material on top of your garden. Make sure you’re not putting TOO much, though. A layer of no more than 3 inches will do the trick, otherwise you may suffocate your plants instead of boosting them with nutrients.
Types of Electric Garden Shredders
One size never fits all, and that includes electric garden shredders. Luckily you have options when it comes to your purchase, and we’re going to take an in depth look at the electric garden shredders available on the market right now.
- Easy to use
- Can handle sappy materials like leaves without getting clogged
- Easily maneuvered through garden
- Can handle larger scale projects and materials
- Can be noisy
- Cutting blades must be replaced when dull.
Also referred to as impact shredders, these fine-tuned electric garden shredders are the ideal buy for your garden. They work much like a food processor- you simply toss in your garden materials and the oversized cutting blades work quickly to slice and shred. Possibly the biggest advantage in buying an impact shredder is that they can work with the more sappy green materials such as leaves without getting clogged. This saves time and energy as you won’t have to stop trimming your garden to hassle with a pesky clog.
There are a few disadvantages to impact shredders, though. The bigger disadvantage to an impact shredder is the fact that they can be very loud. You may need to use special head gear to reduce the noise damage on your ears while in use.
The second disadvantage is that the cutting blades will need to be replaced once they become dull. While not super expensive, this is still a disadvantage as you’ll be pouring out more money consistently on your garden shredder. How often you need to replace the blades depends on how often the garden shredder is used and what you’re cutting up, so a smaller garden won’t require as many replacements.
- No cutting blades, so no maintenance
- Works quickly and efficiently
- Can’t handle sappy material
- Becomes clogged frequently
Quit shredders are exactly that- a garden shredder that doesn’t produce much noise. While this is a major bonus for the user, the disadvantage is that it does not have as much power as the impact shredder.
The quiet shredder will either use a cutting drum or a mechanism known as spiral cutter. These do not have to be replaced, which equates to less cost in the long run. This efficient electric garden shredder is ideal for branches, twigs, and other wood-like materials. If you have more green and sappy materials, it’s best to avoid this shredder as it can become clogged rather quickly with an excess of materials. To avoid clogs, try and find a quiet shredder that offers a reverse action to break it up.
Bag or No Bag
You also have options on where your organic materials are sliced. Some shredders will feed the materials directly onto the garden (think: what comes in goes right back out). This is perfect if you’re trying to add mulch on top of your garden in a quick and efficient manner.
On the other hand, you can opt for an electric garden shredder that includes a bag or some type of bin on one side. These will hold your garden materials safe and securely, which means they can be tossed away with ease, or used to make compost.
Our Top Pick: Sun Joe CJ602E 15-Amp Electric Wood Chipper/Shredder
Secondly, this garden shredder holds a powerful 15 amp motor that can shred through branches and twigs with ease. It automatically turns your garden materials into nutrient rich mulch, which means you spend less time trimming your garden and more time enriching it with everything it needs to grow big and strong.
This model is obviously intended for smaller scale gardens, and it’s priced right, too, at around 125 dollars. It won’t need any repairs or maintenance which means less money being spent, and the addition of the safety hopper ensures there’s no accidents while working.
Are wood chips good for soil?
Wood chips are good for your soil, but they must be used extremely carefully. Wood chips aren’t as ‘forgiving’ as other mulching products. They add plenty of nitrogen to plants which is great for growing plants, however you need to make sure you plant below the soil. Growing plants coming into direct contact with wood chips can be devastating.
How much does it cost to rent a wood chipper?
If you don’t want to spend money on an electric garden shredder before trying it out, there is always the option of renting it. This is ideal for the consumer that does not need to finely shred materials often, or wants to test the product before making a big buy.
On average you can expect to spend around $100 a day when you decide to rent a wood chipper. A lot of places will offer deals when it comes to their rentals, so if you want to use it for a week, the price could be reduced to around $400 for 7 days.
Keep in mind these are just estimates. Every company will have their own specific prices and the price will also depend on the equipment you desire. A smaller model will cost less while a larger model for huge gardens will be on the pricier side. Your best bet is to contact a local store that rents out wood chippers and see what they have to say. So are electric garden shredders any good? The answer is simply yes. Garden shredders have the power to create instant mulch as well as give a helping hand in the composting process. This means you can achieve a healthy, strong garden in no time at all and also save tons of time trimming your garden. Remember there are different styles. Take your time to research available shredders on the market before making a decision on which one to purchase. Happy gardening!