I need a chipper/shredder

mashamclJuly 8, 2010

I am not really a handy kind of person so I am confused about this. I have done a bit of research on the web and the only thing I seem to have discovered is that they are good at either shredding leaves or chipping branches. I have six mulberry trees that I pollard every year (fresh branches about 1-1.5" thick and dry leaves), lots of roses (fresh canes up to 1") and a 40ft tall ash that provides lots of leaves in the fall. Also, I would like to stay at the lower price range (say under $400) if possible, otherwise I think it might be cheaper to buy bark at HomeDepot.

Any advice?

Thanks,

Masha

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gardenguru1950(SunsetZ16)

A good wood chipper (not a leaf shredder) starts at about $800. Smaller machines would only cause you frustration.

May I suggest, since you seem to need one but once or twice a year, that you look into renting a good machine when you actually need it for a day.

Joe

    Bookmark   July 8, 2010 at 3:04PM
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fruithack

Gardenguru is dead on. Rent. Even the $800 models don't work that well, especially on 1 1/2" branches.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2010 at 5:39PM
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mashamcl

Thank you. Well, I can't prune six mulberries and over 100 roses in one weekend, and I can't store the clippings either - I guess I will have to continue disposing of them...

Is there a product that would work well just to shred leaves?

Masha

    Bookmark   July 8, 2010 at 6:40PM
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hosenemesis(SoCal Sunset 19 USDA 8b)

Hi Masha,
I use the lawnmower to shred leaves.
Mike and I bought a cheap wood chipper once and returned it the same day. Junk- and dangerous too.
Renee

    Bookmark   July 8, 2010 at 6:43PM
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gardenguru1950(SunsetZ16)

Just out of curiosity, why do you pollard the mulberries?

Joe

    Bookmark   July 8, 2010 at 7:00PM
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mashamcl

Thank you, Renee, good warning.

Joe, the previous owner planted them very close together. Even in one summer they grow into each other creating one big tangle. But most of all, I am very allergic and actually have to wear a mask when they bloom. Imagine what it will be like if the branches get really big... I hate them with a passion and wish I could get rid of them entirely but the city wouldn't let me. They are not just huge allergy offenders, but have very invasive roots - I already had to repair a sidewalk, and my retaining wall is crumbling because of them. I don't think they are even sold in nurseries any more...Sorry I got carried away - I know pollarding won't get rid of the roots:-) but at least they bloom off short stumps not grown branches.

Masha

    Bookmark   July 8, 2010 at 7:24PM
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Dick_Sonia(Sunset 17)

I gave away my 6 hp chipper/shredder last month...yes, gave it away for free. I'd had it for about 12 years, had any number of small engine maintenance issues with it, and even when it was working well, it was much simpler to rent the 22 hp chipper from the rental company. It could chip more in an hour than I could chip in a whole day with my constantly jamming consumer-grade, i.e., junk-grade, chipper. It was one of my worst purchases, ever.

That's unbelievable that the City won't let you maintain your own property: that sounds like a regulatory taking to me. I would send the city manager a bill for the sidewalk repair and a pre-work estimate for the retaining wall rebuild. I'm sure that there's a way to get a removal permit, though, being California, it probably would run into thousands of dollars. Are you sure there is no exemption for noxious trees? If a tree is diminishing the enjoyment of occupying your home, you should be able to remove it at your own discretion.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2010 at 9:06PM
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hoovb zone 9 sunset 23

The sidewalk is buckling and the city won't let you remove them? That's bad. What if they "accidentally" died? Like what if a vandal some dark night when you are away on vacation girded them?

The only effective chipper/shredders are gasoline powered, and need a big area for storage. They are very dangerous too. I would love to grind all my branches and compost them but the drawbacks of chipper/shredders seem to outweigh the benefits. I've thought of hiring a tree trimmer to shred my stuff for me but you really need to shred the stuff twice to get small compostable pieces and they don't want to do that.

I use my B&D "leaf hog" vacuum to shred leaves. It works well. If the leaves are dry it produces an oatmeal type texture of leaves which compost quickly.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2010 at 9:06PM
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tropical_thought(San Francisco)

You have to be careful, if you have cracked sidewalk, they make you fix it at your expensive, so do not notify them of the cracks. If you refuse, they take a lean out on your home. It's ridiculous.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2010 at 9:33PM
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mashamcl

Hoovb, that's very helpful about the vacuum. I wondered about them but thought they couldn't possibly work:-). What if they suck in a twig?

I am also considering buying a reel mower - will it work for leaf shredding? I just run it over the leaves, right?

Thank you for the warning, dick sonia. The trees are planted on the planting strip between the sidewalk and the street and are regulated by the city. The city actually will let me remove them but only if I replant with other trees. However,I have a small corner lot with 8 big trees planted in the planting strips in the front and the side (I also have a live oak and a money tree!). This is unbelievable overkill. Some of the trees are less than 6' away from each other. I don't think it is a good idea to have 8 big trees in such a small space. In other words, I have to pay for 6 permits, 6 tree removals and 6 new trees (at least $100 per tree from a good nursery) to end up with another problem (buckling sidewalk, tangled branches, endless pruning) a few years later. It seems that pollarding the mulberries is the easiest way out:-((

Masha

    Bookmark   July 8, 2010 at 9:48PM
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gobluedjm

Masha, I would check with your county assessor on who's property it actually is. At least check the assessors map online if available. In other words...are you sure its your property. Normally those areas are maintained by the city.
Are you responsible for watering them? You could not water them cuz the state is in a drought.

I use my regular mower to pick up leaves its a mulcher also.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2010 at 11:03PM
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calistoga_al

It is a problem for home owners. Not enough room to store vegetative material that would compost itself given enough time. I have two chipper shredders of the same manufacture, one kept for parts for the other. The one being used runs off the tractor PTO at 20 horsepower and does a good enough job. I still rent a self feeding chipper once a year for the limbs too small for firewood and too large for my own chipper, at a cost of about $200 per day. Leaves will compost them self with no shredding needed, I only pile them up. The cost of a good home use chipper(is there a good one?)is run up by the liability insurance carried by the manufacturer and the retailer due to all those users who are dumb enough to stick their hands into a chipper and hire a lawyer to sue anybody in sight. The best designed chipper builders have given up and closed their doors. Al

    Bookmark   July 9, 2010 at 8:23AM
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deep___roots(ca9/sunset15)

We have one from Sears that cost something like 400 bucks probably 10 years ago. Posters before me have hit most of the salient points pro and con about these machines.
I use it to reduce my coast live oak prunings. I also use it to reduce redwood (either recycled lumber or tree pieces) into beautiful golden/dark brown/red path mulch.
I use it only a couple times a year typically.
The gas engine on mine has been wonderful, no problems ever.
However, one must be careful to avoid jamming the chute with too much at one time and one must recognize that some pieces have the capability to get in there and jam the whirling crushers and cause the machine to stop. Then, one must disassemble the housing to get at the piece jamming things...not a real fun exercise, not difficult but not fun.
Then there is DANGER, both from the fine wood dusts and flying small wood chips (I wear a breathing mask with screening filter and goggles). I have never been foolish enough to put my hand in the danger zone but once a stick I was using to jam stuff down in the chute kicked back hard and one of my fingers got mashed against the side of the chute. I was wearing gloves, but I did need medical attention (stitches). My finger is fine now, but looked quite a mess at the time. Like a sausage with the stuffing coming out. Sorry for the visual.
The pull rope for the engine did break recently, but I managed to fix that surprisingly enough. I really did not want to have to drag this machine to the Sears repair facility, which is another consideration if you buy one.
Also these machines make a lot of noise, so ear protection is necessary when operating one.
That's all I know.
Sounds like it might be better all around for you to have the stuff hauled away.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2010 at 12:27PM
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mashamcl

Wow, I am really glad I posted this query. Thank you everybody for dissuading me from buying it. I ended up buying a B&D vacuum (thank you, hoovb) and will continue to dispose of pruned branches. What a relief to have reached a decision finally:-)

Masha

    Bookmark   July 9, 2010 at 2:46PM
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hoovb zone 9 sunset 23

I don't have problems with twigs in the vaccuum. Branches yes, twigs no.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2010 at 6:09PM
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hoovb zone 9 sunset 23

Some of the trees are less than 6' away from each other.

I see what you mean. It might be worth talking to the city, explaining that the trees are too close together and for the health of the remaining trees you want to remove a couple. If you get a sympathetic person it might work.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2010 at 6:14PM
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Mikey(SoCal-Z10-22/23)

I have a 6HP chipper/shredder. It is quite difficult to start and with an engine that size it should have had an electric starter. It can't handle anything fibrous such as banana branches, palm branches, bird of paradise branches and several others as that type of material doesn't chip well and it quickly clogs. I wouldn't buy another one of that horse power.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2010 at 2:42AM
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calistoga_al

Mikey if you have palm, banana or flax in any quantity, they are going to be a struggle regardless of horsepower. My 20 horsepower tractor mounted shredder/chipper can only handle these a little at a time with small hard branches fed in with them to keep the hammers from clogging up. Al

    Bookmark   July 16, 2010 at 9:33AM
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suburbanfarmgirl(9 (Riverside County-Elsinore))

I love my chipper/shredder that I bought at Home Depot a couple years ago. It is gas powered and can only handle branches about 3 inches wide. I use it frequently for my property and now it seems to travel and we help others with their yard waste. The best thing of all is we get to keep the wood chips - which I love.

How about if you put an ad (free) on Craigslist or Freecycle giving away the wood to someone who can use it?

In my neighborhood there is a guy with a huge chipper for commercial jobs. I've even asked him if I can have the 'waste' that he pays to take to the dump. He is happy to give it to me. It saves him time and money and saves me money from buying mulch.

If you don't have room to compost - you could do a sort of 'horizontal' compost where you have something like leaves and wood chips scattered on the ground. It will decompose and improve your soil. Just a thought.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2010 at 11:10PM
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jenn(SoCal 9/19)

We paid $50 (used) for a chipper/shredder we bought from a home owner who used it a few times but needed something even bigger. It has done well for us, but is hard to start and the danger cannot be understated.

The tool we use most for shredding is the power lawn mower. I dump leaves and plant prunings on the lawn, and Hubby mows the pile a few times and picks up grass clippings with it. We end up with a nice pile of mulch.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2011 at 1:22PM
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jenn(SoCal 9/19)

^^^^^^ I meant overstated.... the danger cannot be overstated.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2011 at 2:57PM
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Celmeta1982

We are China Company supplying heavy duty chipper shredders used for chip the raw logs with the diameter of 500mm, and the electric power is 110kw,or 200/220kw. It is very suitable for PDF making industry, or other big industries. Welcome to email to us for more details: steven@celmeta.com

    Bookmark   June 5, 2014 at 12:16AM
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Celmeta1982

We are China Company supplying heavy duty chipper shredders used for chip the raw logs with the diameter of 500mm, and the electric power is 110kw,or 200/220kw. It is very suitable for PDF making industry, or other big industries. Welcome to email to us for more details: steven@celmeta.com

    Bookmark   June 5, 2014 at 12:19AM
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nil13(z21 L.A., CA (Mt. Washington))

Pay a certified arborist some money ti write a letter stating that every other tree must be removed for the health of the remaining trees. You also shouldn't have to get a pernit for each tree to remove and plant. One permit should cover all of them.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2014 at 12:44PM
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