If you have a large garden or smallholding, chances are you have a mountain of woody material to deal with. As we explored in 16 ways to speed up your compost, the size of compost material is key to successful shredding. That’s particularly the case if it is woody material.
There are different tools and ways to deal with large quantities of compost materials. A lawnmower can handle leaves if you don’t mind a bit of mess, and a pair of garden shears can come in handy for small quantities. Neither, though, is ideal for large amounts of material, especially woody material or logs.
The solution you’re looking for is a reliable compost shredder. When you think of it, it’s a win-win situation. You’ll be getting rid of waste without paying for disposal, and you’ll be getting compost in return!
This buying guide will help you decide the best compost shredder for you, and you’ll get to learn how to pick the best one for your budget.
Do note that some of the compost shredders featured here may not be available outside North America, so we’ve written a separate guide to UK compost shredders here.
The 5 Best Compost Shredders on the Market for 2021
Ideally, you should have to buy a compost shredder only once. It’s an expensive machine that you don’t use every day, so you’ll want to get your choice right the first time. With so many options on the market, you’ll inevitably need help to choose the best one for your needs.
Here’s a review of the top options on the market.
For an electric compost shredder, the Patriot performs better than expected. It’s capable of cutting 2.5-inch diameter pieces, which is the largest diameter an electric shredder can cut. These numbers are usually associated with gas shredders. Mind you, with the huge price tag it comes with, you should expect some real benefits in return.
The Patriot shredder’s reduction ratio is impressive. You can throw in tree limbs, leaves, and twigs, and it’ll perform without a hitch. Its safety hopper is also extra wide in case you want to shred some large loads.
Although the Patriot machine is the closest thing to perfection, nothing comes without any downsides. The shredder is a bit too large to be moved around. It’s not huge per se, but it’s not portable either. However, if you’re used to tough manual gardening, you’ll face no trouble lugging it around.
For safety, the Patriot’s motor shuts off by itself when it’s getting too hot. There’s a built-in thermal indicator that ‘tells’ the motor when it needs to shut and cool down. This shouldn’t happen a lot, but if it does, then you’re going too fast with your input.
The shredder comes with a bag for debris and a pair of safety goggles. An extension cord is sold separately, but you get a 3-year warranty instead of the company’s 2-year one if you get it. You’re going to need it, anyway, to avoid a sudden voltage drop.
- Largest max diameter for electric shredders
- Large hopper for large loads
- Impressive reduction ratio
- Debris bag and safety goggles included in the purchase
- Heavyweight and not portable
If you can’t decide whether to get a mulcher, shredder, or chipper, the GreatCircleUSA 3-1 machine is the ideal solution for you. It can do the three tasks, and it comes at an affordable price. If you get each device separately, you will pay a lot more.
With the GreatCircleUSA, you’d be getting benefits back for each dollar you paid. It’s one of the best machines on the market for money value. It comes with a top loader for twigs and smaller branches. You can add anything through that hopper, as long as its diameter doesn’t exceed 0.5 inches.
You can use the top loader to feed wet materials, too. As for the larger branches, you can feed them through the side chute. If you don’t want to face the hassle of bending down and loading leaves from the top, you can buy a vacuum kit which will suck the leaves into the chamber for you.
The machine features two knives and five Y-hammers, giving it an edge over competitors.
There’s a discharge bag included in the purchase, but a lot of users reported that it’s low quality, and it moves around when they’re trying to load it. However, the low price this shredder comes with makes up for this downside.
The GreatCircleUSA isn’t what you’d call lightweight. However, it’s pretty easy to move around, thanks to the large tires it comes with. If you want to move it a long distance you may prefer to use a tractor or a ride-on lawnmower.
- Budget-friendly price
- Great value for money
- Accepts a vacuum kit
- Low reduction ratio compared to other models
- Discharge bag moves around
Like the GreatCircleUSA, the Landworks compost shredder grinder is a 3-in-1 machine that’s capable of chipping and mulching as well. Their prices are closely related, too. The only difference between the two machines is that the Landworks has a slightly lower horsepower. Its discharge bag is better, though, but that’s not a significant difference.
The Landworks features various input options for different load sizes. There’s a large hopper for maximum volume; it accepts up to 3-inch diameter tree limbs and branches. It’s accompanied by an elongated discharge chute to get rid of the waste.
The Landworks’ shredder comes bearing a 7 HP 4-stroke gas-powered engine with a maximum fuelling capacity of 0.7 gallons. It handles large loads without a hitch, and it performs safely without overheating.
You can hook up the Landworks shredder to your tractor or lawnmower using a tow bar. It’s one of the few options on the market that comes with this feature, and it makes it easier for you to move it around.
Like the GreatCircleUSA, the Landworks comes with two knives and five Y-hammers. If not for the lower horsepower, the two machines could be considered twin brothers.
- 3-in-1 machine for an affordable price
- Adjustable discharge chute
- Lightweight and easy to move around
- The reduction ratio could be better
If you’re on a tight budget, you can opt for the Worx WG430 leaf mulcher. It may be the best leaf shredder for compost, but bear in mind it doesn’t chip wood. The machine looks like a manual compost shredder, but it’s not.
The WG430 features a bladeless design that doesn’t quite look like the mulchers we’re used to. Instead of the blades, it operates using a leaf trimmer line. The line should only accept leaves, but it’s okay if you drop a small twig every now and then. Keep in mind that doing that frequently will cause the line to wear out, though.
The shredder comes with 0.09-inch diameter lines—precisely 14 of them. There are also 0.095-inch diameter lines, which people mostly prefer because they don’t need replacements as often.
The bladeless operation isn’t the only brilliant feature in this shredder. It has a foldable construction, meaning that you can take it apart in an instant and fold it down for storage. Its ultra-compact size makes things a lot easier for you in terms of storage. You’ll be able to put it literally anywhere.
Moreover, the WG430 includes a dust reduction system, which is normal since leaf mulching produces a lot of dust. You’ll still get dust, but it’ll be much less, thanks to the built-in reduction system. You’ll want to clean the filters every now and then to avoid blockages.
- Brilliant foldable design
- Compact size for easy storage
- Dust reduction system included in the purchase
- Pretty affordable compared to similar options
- It doesn’t chip wood
The Sun Joe has a reduction ratio of 17:1, which is quite impressive for such an affordable shredder. You should bear in mind that it’s only designed for twigs and branches, though. It shouldn’t mulch leaves. There’s nothing wrong with dropping some leaves, but we recommend being cautious with that to avoid overloading the machine.
The same goes for green waste; the machine can handle it, but not in large amounts. If mulching is your primary purpose, you’d be better off with the Worx WG430.
The Sun Joe is lightweight, so it’s easy to move around your yard. It’s one of the best portable shredders on the market. On top of that, it’s pretty easy to assemble and use. If you’re a beginner with these machines, you’ll find its operation straightforward and simple.
Furthermore, the Sun Joe shredder comes with a safety lock for the motor. This means that the motor will stay shut off when the hopper is on to ensure the operator’s safety. If a jam happens for any reason, there’s a restart button you can use to adjust the shredder.
- Lightweight and easy to transport
- It comes with plenty of safety features
- Affordable compared to similar models on the market
- The maximum diameter could’ve been better
- No debris bag included in the purchase
Features to Consider When Buying a Compost Shredder
You shouldn’t have to replace your compost shredder. You may need to replace its motor or repair it after a few years, but replacing it is out of the question. So, you need to pay attention while choosing to end up with the best option for your budget and purpose.
Here’s a list of features you need to consider before buying.
The weight determines the portability and the transportation ease, so it’s essential to think about it thoroughly before buying. You’ll need to move the shredder around your yard a lot, so a massive machine won’t be the best option. That’s unless it can be moved by a tow bar and a tractor. In that case, you can get a heavy shredder all you like.
In other cases, it’s better to stick to lighter machines as they’re easier to handle and move around.
Side Chute for Branches
Compost shredders that double as wood chippers usually have a side chute for larger branches. Why is this important? Because separating the larger loads from leaves and small twigs maintain your shredder for longer. Throwing them in the same loader can mess with the flails, and you don’t want that.
That’s why you should opt for a shredder with a large side chute for large loads. That way, the branches and tree limbs will go straight to the chipping blades without passing by the flails. And of course, the larger the side chute, the larger the tree limbs you can throw in.
A top loader on your compost shredder will make your life much easier. You won’t have to overwork yourself trying to get the leaf or twigs into the shredder and operating the compost shredder hand crank. All you’ll have to do is throw them on top of the machine, and gravity will do the rest for you.
A lot of options on the market are available with top loaders, so you won’t face much hassle trying to find one that fulfills your needs.
Solid tires are essential for heavyweight shredders. If your machine requires effort to pull it, but it comes with fragile tires, it’ll be the closest thing to a nightmare. If your shredder is light and easy to move around, it shouldn’t be much of an issue.
When buying your shredder, make sure its wheels are large enough to hold it and solid enough for transportation. Otherwise, it’ll be a hassle to move the shredder frequently.
Shredders with multiple blades are the better option because you won’t need to sharpen or replace the blades much. If you’re operating only one or two blades, they’ll wear out faster, causing you to change them or repair them more frequently.
If you don’t want the hassle of changing your blades often, we recommend getting a shredder that has various blades.
The feed capacity of a shredder determines how many twigs, leaves, and branches you can add at once. If your yard generates a lot of waste, you’ll need a machine with the largest feed capacity you can find.
Bear in mind that compost shredders with more than one chute will likely have a different capacity for each chute. You should check that out and choose according to the amount of waste you intend to turn into compost.
The reduction ratio of a shredder depicts the volume of the reduction it can achieve. Shredders on the market have ratios ranging from 10:1–20:1. In other words, this means they can reduce the volume of the yard waste down to 5%–10% of the original volume.
If you intend on cutting large loads and tree limbs, opt for a high ratio—from 15:1 and up. Meanwhile, a ratio of 10:1 is just fine for leaf mulching and the like.
Electric shredders emit much less noise than gas-powered ones. The choice between both operations depends on many other factors, and we’ll talk about them in detail below.
However, if noise is an essential factor for you, you ought to consider it when choosing.
If you have neighbors who may complain about the noise, you’d be better off with an electric shredder. The higher its power, the lower the noise it’ll emit.
Gas-Powered Compost Shredders Vs. Electric Compost Shredders
There are two types of compost shredders on the market, gas-powered and electric. Each type has its pros and cons, and learning the differences helps you make the right choice.
For starters, electric compost shredders have quieter motors, and don’t emit much noise. They’re also more eco-friendly than their gas-powered counterparts.
That said, gas-powered shredders are much more powerful than electric ones. In other words, they’re better at dealing with large loads and tree branches. If your yard generates a
lot of wood waste, you’d be better off with a gas-powered shredder.
Electric shredders can cut diameters ranging from 1.5 and 1.75 inches. Only a few options exceed that, such as the Patriot Electric Shredder. These machines are also mostly light in weight and easy to move around.
On the other hand, gas-powered shredders don’t need a power source. In turn, they don’t have wires poking out of them, which is good news for people who don’t like being limited with cords and such.
Additionally, gas-powered shredders can tackle diameters up to 3 inches, which is significantly more than electric shredders can do. Not to mention that they don’t need power sources, so you won’t face the hassle of getting extension cords.
If you want to get the most use out of your machine, and if your yard generates a lot of waste, a gas-powered shredder will be the better option for you. These shredders also handle multiple inputs without a hitch.
If you want a quiet, portable shredder, and you’re okay with limited options, then an electric shredder seems like the better option.
The Final Verdict
Our top pick for compost shredders is undoubtedly the Patriot Products CSV-2515. It’s the best electric shredder we could find on the market, seeing as it can tackle diameters up to 2.5 inches. We also like the safety shut-off feature that prevents overheating incidents.
If you’re looking for a gas-powered shredder, you’ll love the GreatCircleUSA Wood Gas-Powered Shredder. It’s affordable, reliable, and it can cut large branches like they’re nothing. What more could you ask for?