Using a Chipper Shredder to Recycle Garden Waste
How Does a Chipper Work?
Garden chippers/shredders can be electric or gas(petrol) powered. Small electric chippers rely on a powerful electric motor, about 3 HP or just under 2.5kW to drive a strong metal cutting cog. This shears branches up to 1 1/2 inches or 40mm in diameter. The cutting gear is designed in such a way that the blade pulls branches into the machine. The result is a neat pile of chipped branches and just another way to recycle garden waste.
Disposing of Branches
Most gardeners will be aware of the benefits of using a compost bin or heap as a great way of disposing of grass cut from the lawn, leaves, kitchen waste and weeds. It reduces volume and recycles the waste into compost which is of great benefit as a soil conditioner and nutrient source. Branches can also be recycled into useful material using a small electric chipper.
What Are the Advantages of a Chipper?
Firstly it reduces the volume of waste in the garden. Bonfires were a great way of disposing of branches, but now in this environmentally conconscious world we live in, regulations often restrict burning of waste and the material must be disposed of somehow. Depending on where you live, it may be expensive to dispose of branches at a dump/recycling center and shredding, although tedious with a small electric machine (unlike a large petrol powered chipper) can turn branches into useful material.
What Can Chipped Branches Be Used For?
Chipped branches can be used
- as a mulch on flower beds and just like bark mulch, the material is excellent at preventing weeds from emerging to the surface and preventing weed seeds which land on it from germinating. If you just pile up the material, it will also eventually decay
- as a covering for natural paths through the garden. Weed growth through the material is minimal
- as a fuel for a wood chip burner. You can possibly even add the chipped branches to the silo/hopper and burn them. However they should be thoroughly dried first plus consult the manufacturer to see whether it's ok to do this
Safety Tips When Using a Chipper
- Wear Safety Gear Safety glasses and ear muffs and strong shoes/boots. It's debatable whether to use gloves. They do protect hands from being scuffed. However they could get caught in branches as they are pulled into the chipper.
- Be Alert! Branches can thrash about when being chipped, so stay clear. Know where the stop button is on your shredder and be ready to press it at a moments notice if your hand gets caught by a branch. Never try to put your fingers into the chipper intake to remove material
- Don't Use a Chipper When It's Raining Electrical appliances shouldn't be used in wet conditions
- Position Your Chipper on Level Ground Don't use it on a slope where it could slide or topple
- Work in Daylight Only Good lighting is essential when doing any work in the yard and garden.
© 2012 Eugene Brennan