I Heart My Electric Chipper Shredder


Chipper_with_pile10:30 a.m.  The McCullough  Electric Garden Chipper with pile of brush to be conquered.  It’s a bad photo–sorry about that–but this pile is 2-3 feet tall and maybe 10 feet long. Blackberry bramble, smallish branches, that sort of thing.  Been accumulating all winter.

1:30 p.m.  Pile of brush–gone.  Compost pile–hot and yummy.  The brush pile shredded down to three tubs’ worth of compost–maybe 9 cubic feet in all. That represents about half of my newly-turned compost pile. The rest of the pile is chicken manure (thanks, girls!) and aCompst
little green waste.

I’ve had this electric chipper-shredder for several years now.  I pull it out two or three times a year when I have a pile of reasonably dry garden waste to shred.  If it’s too green or wet, it will clog the blades.  If the branches are more than about a half-inch in diameter, they won’t go through the hopper.  It’s great for someone like me who doesn’t have big trees to prune, but has lots of flowering perennials that need to be whacked back.

It’s an expensive toy for generating mulch–I could buy three cubic feet of really good stuff for under ten bucks, so why spend hours outside shredding my own?–but it’s more fun than paying somebody to haul off my otherwise un-compostable green stuff. 

Best of all:  it’s electric.  The GardenRant World Headquarters was recently contacted by a certain manufacturer of gas-powered garden tools, and although we found it hard to resist their offer of free tools in exchange for an honest review, none of us wanted a gas-powered anything.  Is it a chick thing? An environmental thing?  A safety thing?  All of the above, probably.  All I know is this:  I don’t have to pour gasoline into anything else I own to make it run (other than the car), so why should I need gas for my garden tools?  It’s also incredibly safe, Fargo-wise.  As far as I can tell, it would be impossible to get your fingers anywhere near the blades even if you wanted to.

If you’re considering getting one, a few thoughts:

1.  You’ll probably only use it a few times a year.  If I had a lot of gardening friends in the neighborhood, I might have talked to them about pooling our money and sharing the shredder.

2.  If I had lots of big branches to deal with every year, I would probably be better off renting a big ol’  gas-powered thing a couple times a year, maybe with some neighbors, and just having a giant shred party.

3.  The assembly instructions are worse than useless. I get emails all the time from complete strangers begging for help.  The photo on the left should answer the burning question you will have when you get to a certain point in the assembly process. (click to enlarge)

4.  And finally–if you do buy one, try one of the links below and see if they give you either free shipping or a discount (whichever you’d rather have.)

Free Shipping!

Gardener’s Supply Company – 15% off orders of $25 or more!

Meanwhile, I’m done chipping for another season!


  1. I’ve always wanted one of those things, because my neighbors, fools, so laboriously rake all the leaves out of their gardens in fall. I’d love to just collect the bags from the curb and mulch the garden.

    But I’m with you on the gasoline tools. I so want a good weedwhacker–but I cannot imagine pulling the cord to start up an engine.

  2. I bought one of these same electric chipper-shredders two years ago and I love it. It is just the right size for what I have to chip up, and for me to wheel it around the yard. I was skeptical that it would be powerful enough, but it is!

  3. Seriously, they are “safe, Fargo-wise”?! Then this might work for me *if* there is one that will handle branches larger than 1/2″ (lots of shrubs and trees). I’ll have to do a little research. Thanks for the heads-up, Amy.

    Michele, my neighbors’ mow-and-blow crew thought they were doing me a favor by raking leaves out of our shared front garden. They looked at me a bit askance when I asked them to leave the leaves where they lay – or wait, better yet, rake the neighbors’ leaves onto my side. As mow n blows go, this crew is more organically bent than most (no weed n feed, use organic ferts and such) but this was a bit more than they could wrap their minds around.

  4. Yes, I promise that you need not have any Fargo fears here. Even if your arm was so skinny that you could stick it all the way down the chute (and it is not; the angle of the chute opening would make it impossible for even my skinny arms to get in there), the blade is too far away for your fingers to reach.

  5. I dream of someday having one of those great big tree-eating trailer chippers, even if it’s gasoline powered, and even if it’s huge overkill for my small garden. If I ever get one, I’ll troll my neighborhood for stuff to grind up.

    Warning in advance: if a crazed-looking redhaired woman comes to your door asking for “spare phonebooks”, do NOT give them to her! (I would just want them to throw in the shredder because it’s fun to watch them explode)

    I had a home-sized gas powered chipper/shredder (Kenmore brand) some 15 years ago when I lived in Kansas. It worked fine, but it sure took a long time to grind up all the stuff I wanted to grind up (Christmas trees, twigs, branches, yard trimmings, neighbors’ leaves, my own leaves, more branches…).

    If I were feeling sensible, I’d buy one of the electric chipper/shredders like you have and be done with it.

  6. I do have one of those Fargo ones, gasoline powered, harumph, bad human that I am. I kind of like it in a really non girly-girl way. The one thing I would like to add to anyone considering one (and Amy you alluded to this when you mentioned how big your pile used to be) is that they do reduce things down to nothing. So you will start your task with a huge heaping pile of stuff and then, after the chipper reduces it from the 14:1 ratio it says it will, well, it’s a bit of a disappointment! Where’s all my good STUFF?

  7. I sold my shredder on ebay a couple of years ago. It was noisy, used energy to operate and each new one uses loads of the earths rare resources to manufacture.
    Now I chop up prunings using loppers or secateurs.
    I get a great mulch: great for plants and for wildlife at no cost to the environment!

  8. Thanks, Amy, good to know there’ll be no movie re-enactments. I wonder if I can rent an electric-powered wood chomping beastie in my neck of the woods…. It’d be a great way to turn the material I currently load into 4 yard debris bins (mine, plus neighbors) a week for several weeks in a row every spring and fall. It would certainly be easier on my hands and arms than Rob’s method (good for you!).

  9. I’m a slow-and-lazy composter nowadays but when I was younger and less patient I tried to hurry the process with the help of a leaf shredder, the kind that uses a weed-whacker-type plastic filament and costs about 100 bucks.

    Turned out that any and every half-inch twig and broke the filament, so I spent more time replacing it than doing the shredding. The process took forever and convinced me that I could wait a year for unchopped leaves to decompose imperfectly but well enough.

  10. I’m going to try a machete first; besides it will come in handy if any vicious dogs wander into my yard.

  11. I bought one of those big gasoline-powered shredders this year. It is worth the price, which was about the same as renting it three times.

  12. There is something to be said about spending lots of cash and using lots of electricity or fuel to power something that in the end is there to help you save time, money and possibly the environment!

    Paradox? I think so…

  13. I think a lot of organizations are exploring new ways to become more cost efficient these days. Many big companies often use large amounts of paper in their everyday environments.So they need a paper shredders because Paper shredders are a simple solution to destroying many of the documents and materials that hold private information.Taking simple steps, such as purchasing a paper shredder, can help you avoid a lot of pain and suffering in the future. That seems well worth the small investment.Wanted to compliment on your site, it looks really good.

  14. I just bought my electric McCullough and what an empowering tool. This redhead (wonder if there is a trend here??) just loves tackling a pile of greens. Watching it reduce down to useable mulch is fabulous. Just make sure everything is dry.

  15. I’m pretty impressed with this unit. I thought I had quite a bit of branches and other brush till this got a hold of it all. I absolutely love it. I also love that I can take the tip out of the switch and there is no way that my kids could turn it on with out it. Tips: Wear gloves, as it’s grinding a branch the branch vibrates and it can be like holding on to an electric carving knife if there are any sharp edges. Wear hearing protection, nothing fancy, I use a $16 pair of noise ear muffs. It makes the experience much more pleasant. The unit when running is very quiet, but the chopping/grinding action is not. If you want to chop leaves, get a lawn mower. If you want to turn all those sticks and branches that fall out of your trees or all the branches you clip off your bushes into excellent useful wood chips, get this unit. You won’t regret it. Also absolutely fantastic with bark and other small pieces if you have a bunch left over from splitting logs (as I did). The only annoying thing is clearing it in case of a jam. They need to get rid of 2/3 of the screws on the cover and put a hinge on it.

  16. I had been considering whether one of these would help shredding kitchen scraps (e.g., broccoli stalks, whole pieces of spoiled fruit) for the compost pile, but it sounds like the consensus is wet items just clog it up. Anyone have any other opinions on using this to reduce kitchen scraps to smaller pieces?

  17. Harbor Freight Tools sells a version that is hinged. It is easier to open and unclog that the McCullough version, but it doesn’t have the dedicated side input for branched; everything goes in thru the top.

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