Which One to Choose

Shredders – Which One to Choose

By Val Scaresbrook

Why shred?

When piles of prunings pose a problem, sort it with a shredder — it’s the business for converting heaps to handfuls.

Then what? Add them to the compost heap, spread them around shrubs, or make a trip to the tip.

The ideal shredder

Our ideal shredder has all of these features:

  • Versatility to deal with thick prunings and soft waste.
  • Inlet wide enough to take branched prunings, so no trimming to fit is needed.
  • Inlet at a convenient height.
  • Purpose-made prodder for pushing twiggy material down onto the blades.
  • Large enough motor to deal with the workload.
  • Overload cutout to protect the motor from damage.
  • Wide outlet to reduce the risk of jamming.
  • Speedy processing of material.
  • Material drawn in steadily instead of being snatched out of your hand.
  • Shreddings are easily composted slivers or crushed chunks of material (some shredders chop rather than shred, which is OK if you just want to reduce the volume before going to the tip).
  • Wheels for mobility.
  • Long enough cable to reach the mains socket.
  • Secure cable connection.
  • Controls that you can operate with gloved hands.
  • Reverse-action blades for quickly clearing jams without having to expose the blades.
  • Easy access to blades for cleaning/replacement.
  • Safety switches to prevent operation when the blades are exposed.
  • Quiet operation to protect your hearing and avoid disturbing everyone else.
  • Replacement blades readily available.

The pros and cons of hiring a shredder

Hiring a machine makes sense if you’ve space to pile up the prunings ready for a mammoth shredding session a few times each year. For a smooth-running day, make sure that the machine’s been overhauled since last being used, and insist on having the instruction booklet (it’s best to arrange this in advance so it’s ready for you).

  • Cheaper than buying – if you only have a few days’ work for it every year.
  • Access to meaty models that you wouldn’t dream of buying.
  • Heavy duty models for speedy throughput.
  • Petrol-engined models for use whatever the weather (unlike electrical ones).
  • An opportunity to try before you buy.
  • Save storage space.
  • No maintenance costs.
  • Delivery to your door sometimes possible.
  • Supplied assembled and ready to go.


  • Smaller hire outlets only have limited choice — maybe a too small domestic machine, or a too large industrial type.
  • May not be available at short notice.
  • May be inefficient or ineffectve due to blunt blades, general wear, or abuse by other hirers.

Co-author: Alec Scaresbrook

We’re seasoned gardeners, with the theory under our belts and the soil under our fingernails. And we’re passionate about helping others to create a garden to enjoy instead of seeing it as a problem. We’ve been sharing UK gardening information via gardening magazines for 20 years – you name it and we’ve probably written about it, or photographed it, or both.

Our Gardening Masterclass website http://www.GardeningMasterclass.co.uk aims to inform, enthuse and inspire all with our gardening tutorials & product guides, information on shows & gardens to visit, plus Q/A forum.

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