selecting a leave chipper

organic123October 7, 2009

Dear Fellow Gardeners,

I'd appreciate advices on selectinga leave chipper:

1) cutting leaves up to be used on garden and around trees.

2) 1 acre lawn with several large oaktrees.

3) do not mind manual work, no need for vaccum.

4) prefer electric, if possible, to avoid gas fumes.

5) checked into write up on Flowtron, seems to be nice, but worried that it would be too fragile.

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masiman(z7 VA)

I am very wary of the electric leaf shredders.

I have neither seen nor handled one personally.

My thought is that they are very light duty machines. I am not confident that they would be able to handle a large amount of leaves before dulling. By that I mean that I don't think that their blades would last very long. I also think that any sticks or heavier than leaf material would quickly dull the blades.

I also don't think they have a very high throughput. I think you would be spending alot of time out their feeding it with a straw.

The most economical way to grind the leaves up so that they can compost quicker is with a lawnmower or a string trimmer. I have 3 5'x8' bins that I do every year with the string trimmer method.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2009 at 1:39PM
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Do yourself a favor and buy a real chipper shredder with a gas engine of at least a 5hp engine. The Mackissic is raved about and I'm sure it's wonderful but the best bang for the buck is an older Troy Bilt Super tomahawk. They sell remarkably cheaply on ebay. I use mine several times a week year round and have owned one since 1984.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2009 at 1:02PM
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I second the comments about older Troy-bilt. I have a 4 hp underpowered model, and love it for leaves. At least smaller leaves, the shute is too small for max thruput with bigger leaves. The Troy-bilt shredded leaves noticeably smaller than did the Craftsman I also used a lot.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2009 at 11:37AM
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There are various electric powered "chippers" that have a vertical chute with a highly constricted hopper on top. They are okay for chipping small branches. But to shred leaves requires that you stuff a few leaves at a time through the slot. Expect to spend 2 or 3 days to run a bushel of leaves through. All of this is so you can't stick your fingers into the works. The safety stuff makes the machine almost unusable. Thank the lawyers for that. I've almost gotten to the point where the first thing I do with any tool is throw away the safety crap so I can actually use the machine. (Still have all my fingers). As for the Flowtron leaf eater, I found one at our local ReStore (a recycling/salvage operation) for $9.75. It does a beautiful job on leaves, wet or dry. Won't take anything bigger than a tiny twig, however. They use nylon trimmer string, which is easily replaceable. They do depend on a universal motor (not as robust as an induction motor), but they have very high rpm (which this machine needs), and are fine until they burn out.
I also have an old WW Grinders (bought out by Troy Bilt later), and replaced the non-functioning gas engine with a big used Baldor 3 hp induction motor, which runs on 220 v. This has a ton of power. The flails (or hammers, if you prefer) aren't intended for big sticks. If you have one without a chipper, you have the plain Tomahawk model. It's the Super Tomahawk that has the chipper function. But I agree with those who aren't impressed with the chipper on these relatively small machines.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2011 at 1:01AM
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Why not just use multch blades on you mower, mow over them, and rake them up? Or if you have bagger attachment they will be compacted (chopped)in the bag for other uses?

    Bookmark   February 28, 2011 at 5:23AM
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Keep seeing posts on what's the best in an "inexpensive....X". There was one the other day about a pressure washer, but not to exceed $200. If you buy underpowered and under designed, you won't be happy, and it's wasted money.


Get the leaves raked or assembled and RENT a decent unit in the fall for a day or so. Job will be done and you will have experience so as to judge for yourself.

Buy a decent unit, if $$ are a consideration, you could investigate a used unit. I'm personally leery of buying someone else's headaches, but have had good luck with items that were given to me as they "no longer run." Also, are you comfortable working on small engine stuff?

For about $300, get mulching blades for your deck, even if it's not a mulching deck, Gators work great. AND buy a tow behind sweeper. Most of the new ones have "easy dumping" features. rcmoser is correct in that the mulching blades chop up and turn big piles into little ones.

Good Luck,


    Bookmark   February 28, 2011 at 1:14PM
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Most of the inexpensive electric leaf shredders use trimmer lines to shred the leaves. Renting a gas powered shredder or even a leaf shredder with a vacuum is probably a better option.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2011 at 12:04PM
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