Equipment: Chippers and Shredders

Follow all manufacturer's instructions and cautions. Wear protective goggles and earplugs when using chippers and shredders. This page gives an overview of this category of tools, it is not meant as a definitive source of information about any specific tool, nor a comprehensive buying guide.

This page should not be interpreted as a recommendation that you buy a chipper or shredder. In fact, most composters never use one.

Brief Definition

Shredders use nylon or steel lines (flails), knives or blades to break up light plant material. Leaves and twigs are dropped into a chute and fall through a spinning drum which contains the flails.

Chippers cut with stronger blades which can handle larger branches and brush.

Do I Need a Chipper or Shredder?

No. Most composters don't have one. However, the consensus opinion of discussion on the Message Board has been that those who collect 75 - 100 bags of leaves or loads of branches on a regular basis find this equipment very handy. I don't personally use a chipper/shredder, but the following pointers are gleaned from Message Board participants:


  • Saftey - Safety is obviously the first concern. Make sure that you are an adult who is physically able to handle the equipment and choose a machine with adequate safety features.
  • Size of Chute Opening - Remember when selecting a chipper or shredder that no matter how powerful it is, you can only shred or chip as fast as you can feed the machine. If it has a very small opening and you have to feed it 100 bags of leaves one handful at a time, will you use it?
  • Cost Including Maintenance - Cost is always a consideration, but include the cost of maintenance as well. It can be very high. Get a machine that is durable and has a warranty.
  • Power - You can buy a motor as low as .5 horsepower. The consensus on the Message Board was that most everyone who had bought less than 10 - 12 horsepower had either upgraded to that level or felt that they needed to do so.
    Also, consider gasoline vs. electric. Do you have an electric outlet near the location you have chosen to use the shredder? Gasoline-powered machines are more powerful than electric ones according to Stu Campbell in the book "Let It Rot!"
  • Size of Generated Pieces - Some machines allow you to choose the size of material generated
  • Moblity - How will you move the unit?

Online Stores
Compost Tea eBook
Build a brewer with a bucket and less than $15 worth of components, and make aerated compost tea.
Composting the Holidays eBook
Compost fall leaves, hay bales, holly wreaths, pine trees, etc. Compost pumpkins (food waste) in a compost pile.



  1. Types of Manufactured Bins
  2. Build a Bin
  3. Sifters and Screens
  4. Hand Tools
  5. ** Chippers / Shredders **

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