Mulch, wood01

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Does anyone have much hands on experience with chipper/shredders? I’m talking the big boys! We have a ton of very tall (probably 40 foot plus) old trees at Kilbourne Grove, and branches come down off  them every year.    

I could take them to the recycling centre in Owen Sound, but I really would like to use the ensuing results for mulch in my garden. As I am only up weekends, I really rely on a wood chip mulch to keep the weeds to a minimum.   And leaves, I have LEAVES!!!!! I assume that I will be able to shred the multitude of leaves produced every year in one of these machines as well.   

There seems to be two main players in the chipper/shredder game here. Troy-Built and Echo Bear Cat. I am not sure who makes the better product, so I am hoping for some feedback. If you have any experience with either of these two companies or chipper shredders in general, please leave me a comment.    


35 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Deborah, I look forward to seeing what other folks share. I need one of these too! Thanks for this post. ;>)

  2. 4

    Balls! I thought you were going to list the best potatoes for making chips.

    I know nothing of chippers, but I would suggest buying the biggest most fugly one, and using it when drunk. That’s what I would do!

  3. 6

    ellada said,

    I want me too a chipper/shredders, you can do so much with it for your garden.

  4. 8

    Laurrie said,

    Rob’s Plants has a long dissertation on Chippy the Shredder. Take a look:

  5. 10

    Marguerite said,

    Unfortunately I don’t know much about buying a chipper. What I do know is they are HIGHLY dangerous. No loose clothing or gloves that can get caught and suck you in. Always have someone with you when using it. Please do be careful. We need your fingers for typing your wonderful posts!

  6. 12

    Barbara said,

    Have you seen “Fargo”?

  7. 14

    Edith Hope said,

    Dearest D, My only knowledge of shredders is that unless they are huge they are generally useless. They clog up with wood material, overheat and cease to work in an instant. Size matters here, dearest D. But DO, DO be careful since they can consume humans [and sometimes do].

    However, leaves do not need to be shredded to make the most wonderful compost. They should be bagged in black plastic sacks, tied securely and left. After an age the end result is wonderful. JL, of Greencombe garden who has gardened for almost all of her ninety years told me about this and she makes the most wonderful compost and leaf mould. Just like chocolate pudding without the squidgy part!!

    • 15

      That is what I was wondering about Edith, are they worth the investment.
      We do have a leaf composter built behind our hedge. I love the smell of it, it does look like chocolate pudding.

  8. 16

    Hah! Fargo came immediately to mind. I would skip owning one and just rent a big one (preferably including someone to operate it) every five years or so, when the debris has reached critical mass…or else go in with neighbors and do it more often. As Edith pointed out, the small, affordable models are virtually useless.

  9. 18

    chen said,

    I use a Bear Cat in the last few years. It appears to be reliable and powerful enough for branches up to appro. 2″ diameter. I used to have a John Deere. It was under powered and frequently choked/stuck, and was a pain in the neck to clear up. For these non-industrial shredders, the bulk of the work is to prune the branches to a shape that can go through the feeding chute; quite a time consuming effort. If you have enough room, you can request some local tree service companies to dump a load for free (typical 10-20 cu. yd). I depend heavily on these sources every year.

  10. 20

    We had a shredder, which was always getting snarled up with fibrous things like Strelitzia leaves. The leaves can be left as mulch, or bagged as Edith suggests. Get a chipper. What is too thick for our chipper, gets sawed up for fire-wood. And the gnarly bits get added to the wildlife wall of old grape vine chunks. All sorted. Get a strong and quiet machine.

    • 21

      Diana, we have sawed up as much as we can, but there are so many small branches still. I do have a leaf composter behind the hedge, I just leave them for a couple of years, thought that a shredder might make it go faster.

  11. 22

    Hi Deborah, We purchased our own chipper shredder last year, affectionately dubbed ‘Wally’. It’s a Wallenstein BXM 32 (made in Canada by the way!!! :P) We had a lot of dead trees we’d cut down, so lots of limbs, and brush to clear for fire prevention. As we live in the woods, we’ll always have material to chip and shred, just with ongoing maintenance, and after storms. This particular chipper/shredder model is for use on a tractor’s PTO, not a stand-alone model. Wallenstein does make a BXMT model that is self contained with its own engine. We have abused our chipper, and seriously put it through the ringer. It’s remarkably well made, and we’ve been thrilled with it. If you don’t think you’ll have ongoing material to chip-shred though, it may be more economical to rent one, than buy one, but if you think you’ll get use out of it each year, I highly recommend it. Just another brand to consider. We avoided Echo as some their products for us in the past haven’t been durable enough. I can’t speak to Troy-Bilt though as we have no experience with their products.

  12. 24

    kimberly said,

    Hey, D! Well, I personally don’t have a chipper. However, I come from a farming family who loves Troy Built. But, definitely, the bigger the badder. Don’t waste your time and money on a small machine that clogs and frustrates. Go for the big Daddy! Good luck!

  13. 26

    Have you contacted a tree trimming company? They will bring one to you and chip all of your wood, leaving it in a pile for your use. If you have a spot to accumulate the branches, it might be a good way to go.

  14. 28

    I must admit I absolutely hate the sound of those things. And they are very scary. Fargo aside. Actually Fargo is a great movie but nasty and just so you don’t feel too scared to watch it, the bodies were already dead. But I can’t even stand to watch someone using one of those machines. That said, I’ve found that if you just go over leaves as they fall with your mower they break down very nicely in the compost. And if you use the grass catcher when you do it, you don’t even have to rake them.

    • 29

      They are very scary Helen, and I am never going to see that movie, now!!! I wish that I had a grass catcher on my lawnmower, bought it second hand, I hate leaving all those nicely chopped leaves fertilizing grass that I want to dig up.

  15. 30

    Catharine said,

    Deara KG Chipper frenzy seems to be breaking out! Post us all with the fruits of the research. Has to be a good capital investment for anyone in landscape business.

  16. 32

    Wendy said,

    I’ll ask what my dad has.

  17. 34

    catmint said,

    A friend of mine with a large garden has a shredder and they use it to turn prunings into good mulch. We have a consumer magazine here called Choice which compares products. Do you have something like it? For leaves you can use the lawn mower or just use them as they are – I find.

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