Best Shredder Chipper for the Suburban Homesteader
When it comes time to clean up winter storm debris, you want the best shredder chipper for your suburban homestead. A good shredder chipper reduces limb and leaf debris to mulch size pieces that can be used in your compost or – sometimes – even used decoratively.
The Best Shredder Chipper for the suburban, urban or rural homesteader is the one that fits your property, your life-style and you. With that said, there are many different types, sizes and styles of shredder chippers from which to choose.
There is a wide range of products available on the market today, and below I have reviewed 6 of the very best options.
**Below, you will find more detailed reviews, but you can also click the links above to see current prices and read customer reviews on Amazon.
What to look for
When thinking about buying a shredder chipper, one of the first things to do is to think about the area where you are going to be using it. If you have a large woodlot you are going to need a much bigger chipper than if you have a fenced backyard with a couple of fruit trees and a vigorously growing hedge.
Check the size ratings
If you have done any pruning and trimming on your property, you have a good idea of the size limbs that you want to feed to a chipper. For example, if you frequently have storm debris that measures more than 3” in diameter, there is a good chance that you will need a heavy-duty chipper. If you normally have twigs that are less than 1.5 inches, you can probably get away with a much smaller machine.
Electric, gasoline or hydraulic
Chipper/shredders have different sorts of power sources. Some of the smaller ones plug into regular house current using an electrical cord – and some of the mid-sized ones, as well. Some of the mid-range or larger, run on gasoline. The largest ones tend to run off the hydraulic connection of a farm tractor. One model has its own, dedicated hydraulic power so that you don’t have to run the tractor at the same time as the chipper. Electric ones are fine for backyard work, but if you have a wood lot, you will probably want one that is gas powered or even hydraulic.
Think about the size and storage
Unless you are running a landscaping company or a tree service, there is a good chance that you will not want to have your chipper/shredder outside in all weather. Some of these machines are quite large, weighing up to 990 pounds! Clearly, that is a tool that you can’t just park on the back porch. Others, however, are much smaller and can easily fit into a garden shed or garage.
Getting it started
Like chainsaws and lawn mowers, some models are pull started. If you are a petite person, you might want to look into an electric model simply because it is going to be easier to start. Of course, if you have a huge woodlot, you might need to find one of the gas-powered models that has an electric start or something similar.
Not to be an alarmist, but wood chippers are dangerous. They are serious tools intended to chop up wood – your flesh, and that of those you hold dear, are not nearly as tough as a tree limb. For that reason, it is always a good idea to carefully follow safety guidelines, even when using the little ones.
Wood Chipper Safety Guidelines
- Keep children and pets away from the work area.
- No loose clothing. This is a great time to wear that pair of skinny jeans and close fitting tank top or shirt.
- Wear eye-protection and gloves.
- Keep long hair tied back and tucked under a hat or collar. A long braid or pony tail can act like a rope to pull you in.
- Leave jewelry at home. Even a wedding band or flat earring can be dangerous if you get it caught.
- Don’t try to feed the machine too fast or with branches that are bigger than the rated size. This is an invitation to jams and kickbacks. Getting hit with a chunk of wood hurts!
- Use a pole or stick to poke the last bits into the machine. You don’t want your fingers anywhere near the grinding parts.
- Select a stable, flat surface on which to place the Shredder/Chipper. Check the wheels and kickstand to make sure that everything is secure. Never operate on a slope.
- Clean up debris, and keep your work area neat. Stray sticks or bits can cause a fall.
- Watch the fill level if your chipper/shredder is set up to fill a bag.
- Turn it completely off before attempting maintenance of any kind – including cleaning out jams.
Watch your oil level
Many of the chipper/shredder models require oil to keep them running smoothly. You can prolong the life of your chipper/shredder by reading the manual carefully, and determining how often and how much oil should be put into the machine.
Read the Manual
In fact, it is a good idea to always read the manual before operating any machine. This is especially true of machines that cut or shred wood. Each model is a little bit different, and you are likely to have a higher success rate with your chipper/shredder if you pay attention to those little differences.
Product Reviews – The Best Shredder Chipper
The Tazz K33 Chipper Shredder has a 4-cycle Viper engine that is carb compliant. Its moderate size takes up little space in your garage or storage building. It is easy to move on its 11”, never-go-flat, wheels. It includes an optional vacuum kit for easy clean up, along with a debris bag with a bottom-out zipper and dock and lock bag connector. The Tazz will chip branches up to 3” in diameter. For smaller items, it has a sturdy steel hopper. At 34” high, it makes yard clean up easy. Debris can be collected in the debris bag for easy transfer to a compost heap or container.
- Steel hopper
- Chomps up to 3” diameter limbs
- Carb Compliant
- Separate Debris hopper and Branch feeder
- Competitively priced
- Not made for larger branches
The WoodMaxx is a large auto-feed chipper designed with a self-contained hydraulic pump. It is built to be rock-solid stable. It is a good idea to have your location prepped and ready before delivery, as it is shipped by truck freight only. You will also need some way to unload it – that part is your responsibility. This is not a tiny chipper that will fit in your garage – at 990 lbs., it almost needs its own shed. It comes 90% assembled. If you anticipate a need to reduce a lot of debris to shred, this is the wood chipper that will do the job. It has a hopper feed, reversible blades, and an easy access inspection port for when it comes time to change out the blades or free up a jam. It is driven by a shear bolt protected PTO shaft, and has a safety feed roller disengage.
- Capable of shredding material up to 6” in diameter.
- Extra heavy duty – built to last
- Reversible/changeable blades
- Hopper feed
- Safety disengage
- Shear bolt protection
- Very large
- Delivered by truck freight only
The Patriot Wood Chipper/leaf shredder is powered by a 10 HP Briggs & Stratton Gas motor. It can handle branches up to 3” in diameter. It makes leaf shredding a breeze, and it is compliant in all fifty states. The side discharge makes it easy to work in the same place without moving the chipper. An engine muffler makes this machine amazingly quiet – especially when compared to other chippers.
While you can run the machine in one place, the sturdy no-flat tires make it easy to move around your property to the location where you want to work. There are no belts or pulleys to replace, and an outboard bearing insures many years of dependable shredding.
- Easy mobility
- Can be used in same place for a long while
- No belts or pulleys, shredder is driven directly
- Competitively priced
- Handles up to 3” diameter limbs
- Makes coin-sized chips
- Small bag that fills up fast
- Inconveniently placed screws for feed
- Plastic hopper
- Need chainsaw for curved branches
- Hopper has a narrow throat
- Does not like wet or green materials
The NorTrac PTO Chipper is designed to work from the back of a tractor. It uses the tractor’s hydraulic for power, and can be moved using the tractor’s lift capacity. This chipper is a compromised between an industrial strength chipper and the small household chippers – and might be suitable for a sizeable woodlot.
One buyer noted that their chipper arrived with missing bolts. Another indicated that the blades will quickly chip and split – so be prepared with replacements.
On the plus side, the NorTrac works well with normal farm tractors, such as the John Deer. It is rated for branches that are 4.5” in diameter, but is reported to handle items that are up to 5.5” diameter. (One wonders if the overloading contributed to the broken blades.)
Chipper has a hang-over chute that makes it work well with a cart or similar receptacle if moving the material is desired.
- Handles materials that are 4.5” in diameter
- Reported to be consistently sturdy
- Runs well with standard farm tractor
- Can be moved with standard farm tractor
- Competitively priced
- Needs a tractor for power source and movement
- Blades might need replaced often
- Bolts missing from initial shipment
The Snow Joe is a baby compared to some of the larger chippers, but it might be just what a small homesteader or urban gardener needs. It runs off a 15-amp electric motor, and can handle branches up to 1.5 inches thick. That might not sound like a lot, but if you have a vigorous privet hedge, it can produce a bumper crop of twigs in that size range – providing you trim it regularly.
The big downside on this little guy is that it has a small aperture, so branches need to be pre-trimmed – it can’t handle a lot of brushy limbs. Nor is it set up to be a good leaf shredder, thanks to the small opening. There seems to also be a problem with being able to position a container to catch the chips.
For small limbs, it chomps right down on them, reducing them in size. For a home-owner who isn’t going to need big limbs shredded, or need to shred often, this little machine might be just the thing.
- Much lower price
- Electric motor
- Easy to move
- Minimal storage space
- Need to pre-trim limbs
- Not good at shredding leaves
- Blades are expensive
- Only rated for 1.5” limbs
The Earthquake Chipper Shredder runs of a 4-cycle Briggs engine. It is rated for limbs that are up to 3” in diameter, and shreds them at a 20:1 ratio. A two-bushel bag for catching the chips is included.
The kickstand support is somewhat fragile, which can cause a problem during use, as are the plastic rim wheels. It seems to do well with hopper feeding, but branches that are fed through the branch opening need to be pre-trimmed.
It does well chipping and shredding during the first year, but seems to have problems after the one-year warranty is over.
- Easy to Start
- Moderate price
- Does well with garden waste
- One kickstand for support
- Plastic wheels
- Needs pre-trimming to shred branches
Choosing the Best Shredder Chipper for the Suburban Homesteader
After completing the research, my favorite is the Tazz. It is easy to store, seems to operate reliably, and the price is modest compared to some of the others. For a gardener or urban homesteader, this one might be worth the investment – if only in reducing the number of trips to the recycling center with loads of limb and leaf debris.
The Tazz has sturdy wheels, and bent-bar type of kickstand – it is stable during use, and relatively easy to move around. It accepts up to a 3” limb, and can handle both twigs and leaves.
If you have a large woodlot, you would probably prefer either the WoodMaxx or the Nortrac, as these are designed to work with a tractor to take care of larger jobs, but they are overkill for most suburban and urban dwellers.
Snow Joe is a cutie, but really only good for shrub trimmings. But if you do that a lot, it might be just the one.
For most uses, I do favor the Tazz. It is midrange in size, modest in price, and seems capable of handling most lawn and garden clean-up.