Compost Shredder vs Wood chipper

bogiemsnApril 15, 2011

I'm on the committee of a community garden. This is our second season and we're trying to get rid of the plant materials removed from the garden last fall. It's a fair sized pile. I've been trying to rent a compost shredder but can't find any for rent in my area (Madison, WI). I have found that wood chippers are readily available.

Would a wood chipper suffice for grinding up last years plant refuse.

Thanks for any help you can offer.


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Hi Bill,
A couple of questions come to mind :

1. What is a "compost shredder" , I don't think I have ever heard of one ???

2. If you don't have a Shredder/Chipper , you could just pile it all up and let it compost, if you mix up your greens with lots of browns, it will compost fast...real fast..

Here is a couple of my compost helpers

See Video link below. (for shredder review)

Here is a link that might be useful: My New Shredder

    Bookmark   April 15, 2011 at 5:50PM
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Looks like a winner!
If rental is more then $100.00, could be cheater to buy.
Hi, Jon
You have a good buy there. Looks like you getting you monies worth out of it.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2011 at 7:58PM
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A chipper/shredder is the tool you are looking for. These often have both a knife to chip woody material up to 3 inches in diameter and flails to chop other material into small pieces, with a screen that determines the size the material is ejected. Small, lightweight, inexpensive units usually do not work well when there is a large volume of material to chop up.
If you will be using a chipper/shredder on a monthly basis then purchasing one is a good idea but if your needs are such that you need one a couple of times a year the maintenance costs and need for storage make ownership less attractive because the rental costs (which take care of maintenance and storage) would be much less then ownership.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2011 at 7:19AM
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gardenlen(s/e qld aust)

be aware the difference between common garden shredder and a chipper as used by tree loppers they do different jobs. the garden type shredder (even if the maker drops in chipper in the name of it), most shredders have some chipping capacity when it comes to processing small green/fresh twigs and branches, but outside of that they aren't chippers.

if you are going to own a shredder then you shred as you prune or collect end of season plants, not a good idea to save it as some material will dry out and the shredder may not handle it. the pic's i see above are shredders.

keep in mind flail type shredders will clog up if you try to shred fibrous material through them. for comparison see the greenfield peacemaker shredder, it processes all material.

for us ordinary vege garden waste breaks down soon enough pulled and tucked under the mulch around the plants, roughly break it upand it should also break down just as well in a compost pile.

quiet often not a good financial choice to own a shredder, over here every hire joint hires them out, plus also if you do an annual or bi-annual garden trim think about getting a bloke in with a chipper and let hime do the chainsaw work up as high as need be he will chip all material and leave it for you to use, and over here they will even take one trailer laod of rubbish to the dump as well. cost here around about $200.

all while you sit back in safety and enjoy a cool drink.


Here is a link that might be useful: lens garden page

    Bookmark   April 16, 2011 at 1:34PM
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Bill, the Greenfield Piecemaker Shredder (it may make peace as well, but that's not its main function) is Australian-made; I haven't seen it for sale in the U.S. but it might be.

An excellent choice, though spendy, is the MacKissic Mighty Mac. In my experience, there's nothing that beast won't shred.

Good luck. Gary

    Bookmark   April 16, 2011 at 2:41PM
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Will these shredders work well on leaves? And I mean lots and lots of leaves, mostly maple. I have a cheap "yard vacuum/blower" that I have used to shred the leaves before composting, but the little bag that is attached to it only holds maybe 5-8 gallons. I spend way to much time emptying the bag. I usually get sick of it and blow at least half of the leaves into the woods surrounding the yard. I would like to make better use of this natural "wind fall". Any suggestions?

    Bookmark   April 17, 2011 at 7:21AM
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To better exploit that 'wind fall' using that tool, I would use a tarp and blow leaves onto it, drag or carry the full tarp nearer to where you will use your leaves, and then shred them without installing any bags - just rake the shreddings onto where they are being used. You'll need a dusk mask of course.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2011 at 11:15AM
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Steve Massachusetts Zone 5b

I got a used MacKissac on Craigslist for $300. It chips branches to 2 and 1/4 inch diameter and shreds all the leaves I can give it.


    Bookmark   April 17, 2011 at 11:56AM
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Belgianpup(Wa/Zone 7b)

Buying a chipper/shredder for a one-time use usually isn't cost-effective... will there be more leaves each year from the area surrounding the garden?

If the current batch is the problem, just rent or borrow one. If you have an area to do it in, and leaf production in the immediate area is regular, rake or blow freshly fallen or dried leaves into an area along a wall or solid fence, and run a lawnmower over them. Go just in one direction, keeping the discharge vent facing the wall to confine the leaf bits.

Regular shredders seem to fine on leaves (even large maple leaves) as long as you don't try to feed them a lot of old, wet clumps of them. Fluff them up and let them dry out a bit if they've been sitting out all winter. If they've gotten mixed with rocks, just compost them, as the rocks will chew up the shredder.


    Bookmark   April 17, 2011 at 7:36PM
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Thanks for the advice. And yes the leaves are there every year. I have a smallish (1/2 acre) yard with wooded areas on two sides, plus numerous trees in the yard itself.

I have tried using the mower, but I don't have any hardscape boundaries in my yard and the pile of leaves get deep enough that driving over them starts to become a fire hazard.

I like Idaho's suggestion, but having had the bag pop off accidentally a few times, I know that the leaves just fly everywhere (mostly in my face) I am going to make a tube out of canvas to replace the bag, and see if I can direct the spray of crushed leaves. If that doesnt work well, I my be buying a shredder.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2011 at 7:51AM
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This rocks as a chipper/shredder "craftsman"

    Bookmark   April 18, 2011 at 10:35PM
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You could put the leaves and plant material in a large garbage can and insert a weed whacker, stir it around as needed. Also a barrel composter would be a good investment if you are looking for a fast turn around.

I have a wood chipper, we use it a lot, but don't put much garden refuse thru it. The wood chips are put in the garden paths.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2011 at 11:51AM
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Hey if you cant afford a wood chipper or a composter ,take an old lawnmower with a dull blade (unless you dont mind sharpening blades) just mow em around chjop it up over and over ,,works great!!!d

    Bookmark   April 21, 2011 at 11:29PM
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I have not heard or seen the term "compost shredder" used before. Is there a product where the advertising used that term, or is that just a term you came up with?

As compost is already in very small pieces and very few folks would need to further reduce it, I suspect that this is a term not used in advertising.

I have found a older Troy-bilt shredder to shred much finer than a Sears model, but this may depend on what screen is in place. None of these machines are perfect, they all have advantages and disadvantages. If you don't want to spend a grand for a Mac, a older Troy-bilt (with hammermills) might be a good value for a hundred or two.

The best place for shredder discussions in on the Tool forum, where a more in-depth look by tool users (and fanatics) can be found.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2011 at 1:41PM
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buford(7 NE GA)

We have the Craftsman chipper/shredder as well and it works great. If you can rent one, that would be a good idea to try it out. What we do is pile all our hard prunings for awhile and then when they are a bit dried out, we run them through the chipper and add it to the compost pile. Sometimes I use it as mulch. Once you shred the plant matter, it breaks down much quickly. The attachment on the back is also good for leaves, but you'd still have the issue of gathering the leaves.

I also use a shredder/vac on most of the leaves and put them in the compost or use them as mulch. On the lawn, we just bought a new Toro lawn mower that is a 'Super Recycle' and on a high setting made about 6 inches deep of leaves disappear. Of course then you can't add them to the compost pile, but they do feed the lawn.

This year, I tried this contraption:

It worked pretty well. I did have a problem with the bonnet popping off, which was frustrating, so I threaded a string through the bonnet (which is cloth) and wrapped it around the bottom of the container and up the other side. That helped.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2011 at 7:50PM
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