Garden Shredders: The Composters’ Best Friend

Garden Shredders: The Composters’ Best Friend

If you have been reading the Garden Shredder Review it will have been pretty difficult to miss that we are big fans of composting.  However, if you have a particularly woody garden you can find that composting, without first shredding, can take a lot of time (and space)

In her article below Sarah Cowell asks if Garden Shredders are simply toys for the boys or essential parts of any gardeners compost regime.

How To Make Compost – Are Garden Shredders Expensive Boys’ Toys or Useful Kit? by Sarah Cowell

The garden shredder can help you make compost if:

1. You’re drowning in woody prunings

2. You want to make more compost NOW

3. You are a keen mulcher or have woodchip paths to renew

Let’s start with drowning. You have a small garden and nowhere to put all the shrubby prunings. Because your garden is small you have to keep pruning or will never see the light of day. Shredding reduces the bulk enormously. Then it can fit into a small-ish compost bin and start earning its keep.

For number two, you want to make more compost and NOW, you probably grow some veg (or have roses that think they’re teenage boys – hungeree). By reducing the size of the woody materials, shredders increase the surface area available to decomposing microbes. They can attack it from every side and hey presto compost is made. Whereas if you had added rose prunings to the compost directly they would probably still be there when all your other stuff had broken down into lovely crumbly compost. This isn’t necessarily a problem however as it can be easily sieved out and returned to the pile for another year. If there are a lot of them it makes sense to make them all smaller when putting it in. For patient composters who can wait as long as two years before using their compost it’s not a problem but the alternative is to spend ages cutting up twiggy stuff before it goes in. I’ll bet you’d rather do other garden jobs. The shredder comes to the rescue and earns its salt.

Finally you may live somewhere hot (lucky devil) and drought is a problem (OK we do tend to forget why our land is green and pleasant). Mulching after rain keeps the water from evaporating too quickly and ultimately feeds the soil. Wood chips might be useful for paths or play surfaces. Chippers are more suited to the kind of woodchips required for paths and playground. Similar to shredders they deal with bigger chunks of wood, branches rather than twigs.

The drawbacks are the initial financial outlay they start at around £150/$200 and then the running cost of the energy needed to fuel it. There are petrol and electric versions available. For electric models you’ll need a source in the garden (or a long enough extension lead) but electric or petrol, the noise! Nature is a whole lot quieter. A word of caution, be careful about getting soil or stones in the shredder as it quickly blunts the blade. Replacement blades can be bought but that’s another expense.

If you like machines and are keen to make compost as quickly as possible then a shredder is a useful addition to your garden practice but if you have a little patience there are millions of small and even microscopic organisms ready to do the job for you. By shredding you give them an ‘in’ so they can get to work more quickly but they will get there in the end without you lifting a finger!

Check out a website like for reviews before choosing a shredder or find out more about getting nature to do your work – see link below.

Want to learn more about the alchemy of composting and how to choose the right system for you? Go to and sign up for a FREE 10 part mini-course now!
Sarah Cowell Dip. Hort. is a gardener and writer on horticulture matters

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