Need help selecting Chipper/Shredder
Every fall, I collect >1000 bags of yard waste (YW) from local neighborhoods. This year, I'd like to have a chipper shredder to help process it all.
Early in the season, the YW is mostly grass mixed with leaves. Then it turns to maple leaves, pinecones, and twigs. Then to oaks.
The grass-leaf mix is OK to just dump onto beds as mulch. The leaves I need to shred before mulching, or they blow everywhere.
I also spread a 2" layer of leaves into my lawn last fall and mowed it in--that killed my husband's expensive riding mower. The repair folks told us that shredded leaves had clogged INSIDE the engine, and that we must stop this practice.
So now I need a way to preshred the leaves before applying to the lawn as organic matter, and before applying to beds as mulch.
Long story short--I need a chipper shredder. The light duty leaf-only shredders won't work b/c most bags I pick up have sticks and other debris in them.
I've looked all over and come up with the following candidates. Someone more handy than me, please answer these questions:
1--Do I want gas or electric? I'm leaning towards electric for less noise, easy startup, and no fumes. But it's also quite expensive.
2--I can't envision myself hoisting 1000 bags of leaves high enough to then tilt and dump into the shredder hopper. Some models have a suction attachment. Others can be leaned onto their sides so you just rake the leaves into the hopper. Are there other ways than to have to dump into a waist-high hopper?
3--What are the "screens" that I keep seeing people write about? What is being screened?
4--Are there other models I should be considering?
Patriot Electric ($939)
Harbor Freight Gas ($399.99)
MacKissic Mighty Mac Gas ($779)
Earthquake Gas (at Menards for ~$700)