How to choose a plant shredder? The buying guide

Intended for shredding branches and foliage, the plant shredder is an interesting device for garden owners. Indeed, it crushes plant waste so as to make it compostable or usable as mulch in order to avoid taking it to the recycling center. However, not all models are created equal and finding the right device is not that easy. Let’s take stock to help you choose your wood chipper.

What is a plant shredder?

The vegetable shredder is a tool whose function is to crush the pruned plants in the garden, as its name suggests. Practical, it is the ally of both amateur and experienced gardeners. Indeed, any garden owner knows how much the season of pruning trees and shrubs can generate very quickly large green waste. To avoid incessant trips to the recycling center, the vegetable shredder is a practical solution since it crushes leaves and branches in order to considerably reduce the accumulation and volume of green waste.

In addition, after pruning, the crushed residues can be put in the composter or used as mulch at the foot of trees and shrubs. Simple to use, it is a very practical and appreciable device to save precious time in the maintenance of your garden.

The different types of plant shredders

There are several types of plant shredders:

  • The blade-holder disc crusher : this simple model is equipped with blades fixed on a disc which cuts the branches into small pieces by a high speed rotational movement. To save time, it is possible to accompany the branches by pushing them manually or using a pusher, the latter making it possible to reduce unpleasant vibrations. The mash is fine, ready to compost. It is a fast and practical model, but which can be blocked easily and which can throw a few fragments or pieces of branches around. It is mainly suitable for a small garden of less than 300 m² with small to medium sized shrubs.
  • The rotor crusher : this model works by compressing the branches, which produces a thick shred that takes a long time to decompose. If it allows cutting branches of larger diameters, it is slower and limited in branch shapes due to its hopper. It is a good model for larger gardens with shrubs with branches up to 4 cm in diameter.
  • The turbine mill : This type of crusher works by compression like the rotor crusher, but it crushes larger branches than this one. It is recommended for large gardens with trees with large hard branches.
  • The combustion engine crusher : These models are the most efficient, but they are not useful in a garden of less than 1000 m². They are primarily intended for professional gardeners and people who want to maintain a park or a large orchard.

How to choose your plant shredder?

The choice of a mulcher is not always as easy as it seems. To help you, here are the criteria that should be taken into account so as not to make mistakes.

The power

The power of your mulcher is a criterion which conditions its performance. Electric models are the most sold to individuals and are sufficient to maintain a small or medium garden with branches with a maximum diameter of 5 cm. The constraint of the connection generally makes them less manageable and more difficult to move, especially in large gardens. For them to be effective, expect at least 2000 to 3000 W of power.

Thermal mulchers are stronger, faster and more powerful since they range from 3,000 to 6,000 W. They are primarily intended for large gardens of over 1,000 m² and equipped with shrubs and trees with thicker branches. Easier to move since they are not connected, they are however more difficult to maintain.

Utilisation facility

You have to be honest; when you invest in devices that are difficult to use, you tend to leave them out. So prefer to invest in a practical and handy model. For DIY enthusiasts and home gardeners, an electric model is sufficient and comfortable, while thermal devices require more maintenance.

Make sure that the shredder is easily movable, that is to say of the correct weight, light enough to be mobile without strain and heavy enough to be stable.

If you can, invest in a device with a drip tray. You will avoid having to harvest the fruit of the crushing or having to place a tarpaulin or other container under the discharge chute.

Finally, a significant point of detail: storage. If you have a small garden or a small shelter, opt for a small model that can easily be stored in a corner without getting in the way.


Don’t hesitate to invest in a strong and robust model, even if it costs more. Like all devices, the first prices should be avoided because they lack reliability. However, an unreliable grinder will be difficult to use and will eventually be replaced. You might as well opt immediately for a quality model.

The type of cut

Plant chippers have three types of cuts. The rotating blade-holder models cut your plants at high speed like a food processor. The ground material is fine, but the device is noisy. These are models to be reserved for small gardens with small shrubs, because jams are frequent.

Rotor crushers crush plants with a toothed wheel. They are mid to high range models, quieter and capable of supporting thicker branches.

Finally, thermal shredders are the most efficient at shredding hard and thick woods, but they are too heavy, too powerful, and too loud for small to medium sized gardens.

The interview

As we have said, electric models are smaller and easier to maintain than thermal shredders. However, you should know that to maintain the reliability, efficiency and life of your shredder, you will need to remove residual waste after each use, sharpen the blades and remove clogging. You might as well make sure to carry out these tasks on a device that is easy to disassemble and handle.


We must not forget that a vegetable chipper is a dangerous and sharp device. Projections are not uncommon, as are jams and blockages that can hurt you if you are inattentive. So opt for the strongest device possible that does not risk injuring yourself all the time and wear the appropriate protective equipment, namely thick gardening gloves, protective glasses and clothing suitable for gardening.

Photo credit: F. Lambregts

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