urg logo urg

ruler

owls

GARDEN SHREDDERS

This FAQ was compiled by Kevin Rolph from comments by contributors to uk.rec.gardening

and was originally published on www.nugget.demon.co.uk.

 

  1. What safety precautions are necessary? (Put first so it gets read!)
  2. What should I shred, and what do I do with the shreddings?
  3. What alternatives to shredding exist?
  4. What type/power is best?
  5. What other things should I be aware of?
Notes: The contributed text is edited slightly for brevity and clarity. Prices are c.1996. Many thanks to all the contributors.

1. What safety precautions are necessary?

From: Dick Glover

Wear glasses and gloves - shredders occasionally chuck out bits of wood at high speed, and the vibration is deadly when you shred rose bits! Also, *do* use an ELCB (which stops the power supply if it detects a short to earth) anywhere with tools outdoors.

From: Kay Easton

Ear protectors are essential for working with a shredder - the person operating it is much closer than others in the same or adjacent gardens and has the noise continuously for perhaps an hour or more.

From: Chunky

Eye protectors and gloves are essential. Working in a hospital I have seen too many silly injuries from this sort of thing. Also an RCD device is essential. I have one of those small plug-in devices which I test from time to time (using the built in button!).
[ELCB = Earth Leakage Circuit Breaker, RCD = Residual Current Detection. I believe both serve the function of shutting off the power if a current drain to earth is detected]

2. What to shred, and what to do with the shreddings?

From: Dick Glover

Shredders are brilliant for reducing the smaller bits of twig, wood and stuff that you might normally tend to burn into a mulch instead - almost free (once you have the shredder), and just as good as the expensive stuff like bark chippings. We use all our shreddings as mulch, and don't bother to compost any - we get lots of compost stuff anyway with horses all around us.
If you do compost woody bits, I suspect that you need to add nitrogen to the heap in some way, since I think that composting such material is a nitrogen depleting process.

From: Geoff Rowlands

We bought an ALKO H2200S about three years ago and it has proved very useful in disposing of the brambles, ivy, sycamore, cupressus etc. It does not deal with juicy stuff very well however; it clogs up.

From: Chunky

I shred just about everything I can, as I believe that, with a larger surface area to volume ratio, material composts more quickly. When I'm shredding just woody stuff then I use it as a mulch but most goes straight onto the compost. When 90% of the material on the heap is shredded it makes it much easier to turn over.

From: Donald M. Hancock

We rarely compost the shreddings, instead we use them as a general mulch which keeps the weeds down admirably. The only thing we avoid is to mulch any plants with their own shreddings in an effort to stop diseases from self-propagating.

3. What alternatives to shredding exist?

From: Nick Maclaren

Unless what you are shredding is VERY woody, you can compost them directly. It takes longer (typically 2 years), but I compost 2-3 year old privet clippings. Most woody shoots will compost quite well while they are still sapwood, but they are broken down by fungi and not bacteria.

4. What type/power is best?

From: Sam Brookes

About 4 years ago I bought an ALKO H1300 electric shredder (made in Germany). Can't remember the cost exactly but it was 120/130ukp. This will deal with all the woody stuff up to say half inch (12mm.) diameter and works very well. The 1300 in the name is the wattage of the motor. There are less powerful shredders available but I would not recommend them.

From: Dick Glover

I bought a Husqvarna (Finnish) electric one (K2000 EL) about two years ago (Cost 210 UKP). It can cope with wood up to about 2.5 cm in diameter. but 'hard' woods like apple are tough going, and really about 1.5 cm is their limit (and mine - the vibration is awful).
You only need to buy a petrol one you have no mains electric power supply available - electric needs virtually no maintenance apart from cleaning, whilst a petrol one needs looking after as much as a lawn mower would. You need (IMHO) a motor that is rated at about 2KW, less is too weak to handle much at all.

From: Donald M. Hancock

We have owned an ALLEN Goblin 1500 (1100W electric) shredder for five years now and find it very useful. It will cope with broomstick sized GREEN wood if it is taken slowly. I would not wish to have a lower powered one such as our neighbour has, it is at least as noisy and it seems to take him all day to do what ours can manage in an hour or so.

From: Chunky

At present I own an Alko H2200 Electric which is fine, it is powerful enough to shred 95% of the waste from my garden. Its disadvantages are that is is not as powerful as a two-stroke petrol one I used a few years ago and with a big garden you need a long, long lead to reach those places other shredders cannot reach! It's also fairly tall and girlfriend (5'4") and my mother (5'2") find it almost impossible to use unless they have something to stand on!
Its advantages are that you don't have to nip to the petrol station for its fuel supply. It's a darn sight easier to start that the petrol versions (some of them at least) and it's slightly (just) quieter.

From: Robin Davies

I have the Alko B3000 3.5hp 2 Stroke Petrol model. If you fail to get the mixture ratio correct then the exhaust emissions are overpowering. It can be an absolute pig to start as well. I think the electric version is better providing you are near a power point and can accept the lower power rating.

From: Geoff Rowlands

The [ALKO H2200S] motor is mounted with its shaft vertical and so the shreddings are flung out horizontally into the discharge shute which deflects them downwards and where the juicy ones tend to stick. Some more recent machines have the motor mounted at about 45 deg to the vertical and so the shreddings should be helped out by gravity and so *may* not be so prone to clogging up.

5. What other things should I be aware of?

From: Sam Brookes
You have to accept that wet stuff will clog the shredder's exit chute and block it completely necessitating dismantling to clear the blockage. This can be a pain until you learn what will shred cleanly but in any case I find that I usually have one or two dismantling operations to perform in every half hour shredding session.
From: Dick Glover
Be aware that the Black & Decker type extension leads are limited to about 3 amp (== 0.75KW), you do need a 13 amp cable.
From: Kevin Rolph
Note that it takes at least as long to shred the prunings than to create them in the first place - so don't spend three hours pruning and expect to shred the lot in 30 minutes!

Kevin Rolph, Cambridge, UK.
Engineer, Manager, Dad, Woodworker, Boardgame enthusiast, Advanced Driver, Quaker, Folk Dancer, Bodhran player, Gardener, and fan of Nonsense and SF.

Page hosted by © cormaic web design, 2009