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What I learnt about shredders - by Bruce Staples, Hawkes Bay Branch.
Bar a few exceptions, to be a tree cropper means to have trees, which in turn means to one day have tree prunings and the issue of how to deal with them. I don’t have a large property (though maybe a quarter acre qualifies these days), and over the years, I have tried to deal with prunings in various ways, but my line of thinking was circuitous and always led me back to the best solution being a shredder or mulcher. This meant I didn’t have to send them off the property as green waste (at my cost) and also created all the benefits that mulching trees provides.
If, like me, you don’t have a lifestyle block but still want to deal to your cuttings onsite there are a range of options in the shredder/mulcher line. There are a whole bunch of small electric appliances aimed at the home garden market, which will chop up small prunings. Many of these are not much better than kitchen blenders, being seriously under-powered. Most have a chute for the bulk of the prunings, and a separate tube for directing larger branches directly onto the blades. This tube seems to be a good idea, but is actually rather impractical, as they are only good for straight branches, and bent stuff just gets stuck.
My first shot at a shredder was a second-hand Masport. Totally underpowered, and quite frankly, a toy. No wonder the previous owner had got rid of it. Once the price gets up to about $400-500 you can get a more serious and useful electric shredder. My experience in this price bracket was a Bosch shredder, which I found gave acceptable results for about three years, but eventually broke down, and the integrated safety switching system meant a very expensive repair was required. Not worth it. In that time I found that sharpening the chopping blades didn’t really give a good result, and replacement blades tended to be expensive. For an urban home garden with only limited requirements, this type of shredder would be an acceptable compromise of price over power. I nevertheless was looking for something that was a bit more gutsy.
The next level up are the petrol-driven models, which start at over $1000 and can get very expensive. They appear to be much more powerful, usually having a minimum three horsepower motor, with the price going up as the power goes up. Here, the more you pay the gruntier the shredder. After this, the options appear to be tractor mounted devices, which are way beyond my budget and requirements.
We are in a semi-urban area so I was keen on the idea that an electric shredder would be quieter than one with a petrol or diesel motor, thereby not disturbing the neighbours. Considering the amount of noise that these things actually make, this view may have been misguided, but there you go.
In the process of my search, I came across the Hansa range, which appealed to me as they are New Zealand made and looked good and solid (they also didn’t have the silly tube for branches; everything goes down the big main chute). Not only that, they have an electric version of their smallest petrol model. It’s limited to 30 mm diameter branches, but anything bigger than that becomes firewood around here anyway, so I’m okay with that. My local supplier is very happy to give the blades a sharpen when I finally get to that point. After a season of feeding all sorts of stuff into it, I have decided I have found shredder heaven.
TreeCropper Magazine, Issue 100, December 2019. Pg 17 - 18.