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American Sycamore? Chippers and Mulchers?

Posted by QueenLlama none (My Page) on
Tue, Sep 3, 13 at 16:20

So we have now been in our new house for almost a year. There's not a lot of lawn, but there is an American Sycamore in front and another in back. So summer is bark shedding season. When bark shedding season stops, at the end of August, leaf shedding season starts up. Bottom line, between July and December, I am going to be doing a lot of raking. This is adding up to bags and bags of crispy, thin chunks of bark, and then bags and bags of leaves, not just in the fall but in summer, too.

I'd love to turn this stuff into mulch. But what I have been reading about mulchers, shredders, and chippers within my budget is not very encouraging. I want elecric, not gas, but the electrics seems to be low on power and finicky. It seems like light shredders designed for leaves won't be able to take the bark. Most electric chippers capable of dealing with the bark aren't suited to taking leaves in large quantities. All of these machines seem to be pretty high-maintenance. I hate the idea of hauling a rental machine out here myself more than once a year, though that at least would mean the maintenance would be someone else's problem. Would it make more sense just to contract with a landscaping contractor to bring a big shredder once a month and shred it all for us?

If I had a lot of land, I would just make a huge leaf/bark pile and let it all compost slowly by itself. But we don't quite have enough land for that, and I think it would offend our neighbor, Mr. Neat N. Tidy.

Any ideas? Thoughts?

This post was edited by QueenLlama on Tue, Sep 3, 13 at 16:31


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: American Sycamore? Chippers and Mulchers?

1. I use a Mulching Mower to chew leaves and grass in our Gardening strip after piling them in the area.

2. With the bag off the mower it will chew them down 10:1 finer per pass but dusty.

3. I take the fine chewings back to bordered flower beds and trees w/o any wind problems.


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RE: American Sycamore? Chippers and Mulchers?

I've got a mulching mower and I think that would work well for the leaves. We're going to give it a try tomorrow. I have heard that the bark will dull the blade really fast. Maybe if I get a second mower blade and just keep switching out (one is at the sharpening place, one is at home)...

I've decided for now the cheapest option for now will be to build a bunch of "leaf/bark pens" with a roll of wire and some stakes. I'll put these out like giant baskets in areas where I want to kill whatever the ground cover is (I'm planning on slowly taking the yard back to native woodland). The pens should hold the leaves in place enough that this is not grossly offensive to Mr. Neat N. Tidy (I swear that he goes out and vacuums up every single leaf that lands on his lawn, as it falls).


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RE: American Sycamore? Chippers and Mulchers?

The max power of a 120v electric motor to connect to a normal US outlet is 1.75hp. The normal NEMA-15 outlet on normal house power is limited to 15 amps for each outlet and several of them are connected to a circuit that will have a 20 amp breaker, at least on newer houses.
That isn't much power to run a chipper/shredder. I gave up on a 7hp gas one because it wasn't enough power to chip big stuff and was way too much hassle for small stuff. I would buy an electric one if I could find one that seemed like it would do anything useful. So far, I haven't found one. The are a few that seem interesting that are basically a vertical weedwacker in a tube that look like they would work fine for leaves only.
I have the same issue with pressure washers and compromise with the biggest electric one that gives me the quiet running and convenience but isn't quite the power I would like.


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RE: American Sycamore? Chippers and Mulchers?

I sharpened two blades today and was surprised at the conditions they were in due to all the leaves and shrubbery I had mulched the last 3-5 years. My concern was missing a few grass blades while getting a clean cut. I feel rushing with the non self propelled mower was part of the cause.

There should be some Carbide Mulching blades that the bark would not affect. Mainly for the bark shedding season because bark is mulched as you cut the yard correct? We have Sycamore Trees here in North, TX but I have not seen or heard of the bark shedding and needing special treatment above what grass or leaves would get.

What is your lot size? That is our old style neighborhood’s problem toward neighbors but nice when you only have a 120’ Deep X 70’ Wide lot minus the 1,800 sq ft house + drive. A :30 minute cut but 1+ hr of edging due concrete borders, all fencing, most trees, flower beds and Etc.. The goal was to save some trime. With a hard blade trimming at a 45 degree to the ground next to the concrete I usually trim every 3rd cuts (which helps related to time).

Remember, removing my bag mulches the grass/leaves 10 X more (10:1) which really saves space. This attachment shows bags of leaves/grass picked up with the mulching mower to compare with what is left when the bag is taken off (at the top).


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RE: American Sycamore? Chippers and Mulchers?

I bought an old WW grinders Super Tomahawk several years ago (they owned the brand before Troy Bilt bought them out) with a dead gas engine.

I bought a used 3 hp Baldor 220V motor, which I run off an extension cord from a GFCI breaker in my electrical panel. Easily powers through everything I've put through it. Admittedly, anything large than 1 1/2" becomes firewood. I use it for shredding more than chipping.

This thing is a workhorse, and it's nice not to worry about clogged carbs and cranky engines. The original engine had a centrifugal clutch on it, which I took off and put on the Baldor so it wouldn't have trouble starting that heavy flywheel and shredding flails.

I bought the motor used from a motor repair shop, and paid about $100 for it.


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