Chipper, mulcher or shredder? How to tell the difference

If you want to clear out your backyard and use the trimmings to mulch around the garden, you are probably looking at a wide variety of chippers, shredders, mulchers and combination machines. While many garden enthusiasts use the terms interchangeably, there actually is a difference between a chipper, shredder, mulcher and other machines. Knowing the capabilities and limitations of each machine can help you determine what machine is perfect for your needs. You will need to match the machine not only to the type of debris you want to shred, but also to the type of product you would like the machine to produce.

Which is which

A chipper machine cuts up trees or brush into many pieces that are a uniform size. This uniform cutting makes for mulch that is aesthetically pleasing and consistent. Unlike a mulcher, chipper blades are not designed to cut up materials into compost-ready bits. Chippers tend to produce bigger chips, though machines can be found for nearly any size you wish. You can buy machines that offer gas or electric mulcher-chipper-shredder combinations, so you can truly vary the size of your yard waste pulverization.

A shredder offers a different sort of yard waste transformation. Shredders cut pieces in to varying sizes and often will accept debris and brush that is typically too small to fit in a standard chipper. This is great if you don't care about having standard size mulch, or you just want your yard to have a more organic appearance. Shredders also allow you to convert more of your yard waste since they will take more types of materials.

A mulcher is a machine that breaks down compost into very small bits for fertilization. In fact, your lawn mower probably already has mulching capabilites. Lawn mowers typically mulch the grass into tiny particles, which are released right back into the grass bed to promote healthier soil and growth. Mulcher machines work in a similar manner, but will accept many materials other than grass, such as leaves or other organic matter. Many avid composters love to use their mulchers to give the compost bin a little bit of a head start.

The combination machine

Combination machines allow you to switch easily from one style of yard waste management to another. A chipper-mulcher-shredder will give you the option to cut a tree into large uniform chunks, shred some branches into chips of various sizes or finely chop soft yard waste into material that is perfect for creating healthy new soil. Combination machines cost more than one machine alone, but they are a great deal if you plan to buy one of each machine in the future.

Choosing between a chipper, mulcher or shredder can be a tough decision, but Sears is here to help. With friendly associates, informative online buyer's guide and great customer support, you are bound to find the perfect yard waste management machine for your individual needs.


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