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Best garden shredder: Turn waste and branches into mulch and woodchip

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Tired of trips to the tip and bonfire grumbles? Take the hassle out of getting rid of your heavy garden waste

Trees and hedges take a lot of looking after, and once you’ve put down the hedge-trimmer, loppers or chainsaw, that doesn’t mean you’re finished with the job. Simply getting rid of hedge clippings, branches and shrub prunings can be a major endeavour, particularly if you’re dealing with established plants, larger trees or fast-growing conifers.

Bonfires can be effective but aren’t necessarily safe or eco-friendly. While not illegal, they’re often seen as a nuisance and are subject to environmental laws. This leaves you with options like hiring a skip to remove your garden waste, cramming it into green bins (where those are available) or driving the whole mess to the tip yourself.

A garden shredder is a more attractive option, transforming all those branches and clippings into manageable wood chips you can use for paths or mulching, or shreds you can put in your green bin or compost. There’s no getting around the fact that these beasts are often big and bulky, but they don’t have to be expensive. If you’ve got a lot of trees to deal with, you’ll never look back.

AXT Rapid now on offer

Our choice of the best small garden shredder is a solidly built machine capable of turning most garden waste into mulch and it's currently discounted by £23 on Amazon.
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How to choose the best garden shredder for you

Garden shredders need to do one thing, and do it well: turn bulky garden waste into shreds and woodchip as quickly and painlessly as possible. Most use some form of blade mechanism to slice twigs and branches into smaller chunks, though some heavy-duty models use a ridge roller to pull the material through and crush it into pieces.

The key thing that differentiates them is size and price. Larger, more expensive models are better equipped to handle thicker branches and will usually have a larger bag or box mounted where the chippings come out to pack more of them in.

While professional tree surgeons will have access to larger, sometimes trailer mounted shredders capable of tackling the biggest branches and even whole tree trunks, most consumer models are designed to handle branches of up to 40mm in diameter. Anything designed to cope with larger material will need a more powerful motor with more torque. Where the smaller models have 2,000-2,200W motors, the bigger models will have 2,500W or larger motors capable of producing between 400 and 650nm of torque.

Obviously, with these shredders, the larger the collector the better, so you can get away with emptying it less often. Cheaper models tend to come without any bag or box so you’ll either have to provide your own or let the clippings pile up on the ground.

Jams are the single biggest issue with a garden shredder. They’re usually caused when you try to feed in too much material or thicker branches and the motor and the blades can’t cope. Cheaper or poorly manufactured shredders often feature softer blades that dull faster and leave the machine unable to do its work. It’s hard to find a shredder that never jams, but the best shredders do it less often and only when you push your luck.

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Is there anything else I should watch out for?

Most garden shredders use electric motors, so you need a cord for power. The longer this is, the less likely you’ll need to reach for an outside extension cord. There are some heavy-duty petrol models available, and these might be worth looking at if you need to do a lot of work at the end of a large garden or you’ve got larger trees and branches in need of shredding

Shredders are potentially dangerous pieces of equipment, so take care when using them and try not to do too much at once. Obviously, pushing items right into the jaws or blades isn’t such a good idea, so look for handy accessories like a plastic plunger that can do the work for you.

Read next: The best garden vacuum to buy

The best garden shredders to buy

1. Einhell GC-KS 2540: The best budget garden shredder

Price: £100 | Buy now from Amazon

If you want something to tear through your hedge cuttings and slice up the odd light branch, this blade-based Einhell shredder might fit the bill. It’s lightweight, compact and easy to store, and not a massive effort to lug down to the bottom of the garden when a pile of waste has built up. The downside of this is that it’s really only suited to lighter jobs; the hopper isn’t the most accommodating, and you might want to take the 40mm maximum branch capacity with a pinch of salt. Anything too big tends to jam the mechanism or come through in strips. A bit more money will buy you a bigger, better shredder, but as long as you don’t get too ambitious and start feeding it chunky branches, this one will do the job.

Key specs – Maximum branch capacity: 40mm; Motor: 2,500W electric; Torque: Not supplied; Collector: N/A; Dimensions: 94 x 41.3 x 33cm; Weight: 9.8kg

2. Tacklife PWS02A: The best budget shredder for branches

Price: £140 | Buy now from Amazon

This low-cost shredder doesn’t make the greatest first impression. It’s a nightmare to put together, not helped by poor instructions, although it does look and feel very solid once it’s built. What’s more, it’s not a brilliant shredder when it comes to smaller and thinner material; the design of the hopper makes it tricky to push hedge clippings through, and chunks of honeysuckle seemed to feed through the blades near intact, clogging the chute on their way to the hopper.

Feed it chunky branches, though, and it’s a different story. Everything we pushed through was chopped up into nice, chunky woodchips ready for composting or even a little mulching on the borders. It’s a speedy, relentless hard worker and relatively quiet about it. The Tacklife could still do with a reverse gear to sort out jams, but it’s a bargain of a shredder for anyone with a lot of fast-growing trees to tackle.

Key specs – Maximum branch capacity: 40mm; Motor: 2,500W electric; Torque: Not stated; Collector: 20l bin; Dimensions: 94 x 43 x 52cm; Weight: 29kg

3. Bosch AXT Rapid 2200: The best small garden shredder

Price: £192 | Buy now from Amazon

The Bosch AXT Rapid 2200 is a real step up from the average compact shredder. Not only is it built more solidly, but its plastic hopper will take in bigger branches and more foliage, and the mechanism does a good job of pulling them through and spitting them out in strips and chips. You can feed it branches of up to 30mm in diameter and feel fairly confident that they’ll actually make it through, though the advertised 40mm might be stretching things. Meanwhile, the wheels and 12kg weight mean it’s still relatively easy to move around the garden. For heavy-duty work, you really need something bigger and more powerful, but this is a great way to turn most garden waste into something you can stuff in a green bin or compost.

Key specs – Maximum branch capacity: 40mm; Motor: 2,200W electric; Torque: 12nm; Collector: n/a; Cord length: 10m; Dimensions: 75.4 x 43.4 x 37.1mm; Weight: 12kg

4. Bosch AXT 25 TC: The best electric garden shredder

Price: £436 | Buy now from Amazon

Bosch’s biggest shredder will take on bigger workloads than the less powerful, compact models; feed in branches up to 45mm in diameter and it will still spit them out, thanks to Bosch’s Turbine Cut system and a 2,500W motor, which can deliver a sizable 650nm of torque. There’s a noticeable difference in power between this shredder and the smaller units, and it jams up less often when handling larger branches or branches with a lot of foliage. What’s more, there’s plenty of space in the 53-litre bin to collect all the resulting chips and clippings. Even thick conifer branches don’t tend to trip it up, though you might have to push the last bits through with the plunger provided. It’s big and expensive, but this is the best electric shredder for gardens with a lot of trees and shrubs.

Key specs – Maximum branch capacity: 45mm; Motor: 2,500W electric; Torque: 650nm; Collector: 53l bin; Cord length: 4.5m; Dimensions: 73 x 68.4 x 39.4cm; Weight: 30.5kg

5. Forest Master FM6DD Petrol Wood Chipper: The best compact wood chipper

Price: £468 | Buy now from Amazon

Looking to turn a lot of freshly cut wood into woodchip? The Forest Master FM6DD has the muscle for the job. It’ll chip branches of up to 5cm in diameter and hurl the chips out from the discharge chute on the size. You can angle this to create a pile on the ground or spit them straight into a waiting wheelbarrow. You can also cram some pretty chunky branches into the feed hopper, though a plate inside it can cause the odd obstruction when you’re feeding them through. This is a bigger unit than the electric shredders, not to mention heavier and pretty noisy. Plus, with a four-stroke petrol engine, it’s a little more onerous to fuel and maintain. All the same, you’ll struggle to find anything else at a similar price that can take on everything from dry branches to foliage from an overgrown shrub without any trouble, and it’ll work in places that you can’t reach with an extension cable.

Key specs – Maximum branch capacity: 50mm; Motor: 6hp 208cc 4-stroke petrol; Torque: Not supplied; Collector: N/A; Dimensions: 78 x 91 x 48mm; Weight: 38kg

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