How do you get rid of your yard waste? Maybe you put leaves and grass clippings in compost piles. Maybe you throw out bits of litter that are tracked in from the street. But if you're often dealing with branches or trees in your yard, you'll want to invest in a good wood chipper.
Wood chippers allow you to break down your yard waste into mulch. You can then use it to protect your gardens or fill your compost bin. We've taken a look at some of the top wood chippers on the market, along with some quick pointers on how to find the best one for you.
Top 7: Best Wood Chippers
Wood Splitting Axes
This combination of a chipper and a shredder is one of the best choices for people seeking an electric model. While electric models don't have the same power as gas ones, they are capable of handling small debris and branches.
If you're taking care of a suburban lawn without large debris from trees, this is a solid choice. It is also significantly less expensive than the more heavy-duty industrial chippers on the market.
The 15-amp motor can chew through branches of up to 1.73 inches thick. That should take care of the majority of debris on a suburban lawn. The end result is a batch of mulch rich in nutrients, which you can use on your garden or lawn or compost heap.
Another feature is the safety hopper, which is designed to prevent accidents. The locking knob keeps the motor from moving when the hopper is open. That way, you don't have to worry about your hand or your clothing being pulled into the blades.
The compact design is built for easy portability around the house. It features two 7-inch wheels that can handle a variety of terrain. Simply push the model to your place of choice and get to work. You can use it around your pool, near your deck, by your driveway, or in any other parts of your yard.
Some more heavy-duty chippers struggle to process small debris. But that isn't a problem for this model. It can handle the leaves and grass clippings that other models might not be able to break apart.
There is also a customer service guarantee from the manufacturer. If your machine breaks down for any reason, you can receive a new model free of charge for two years following your purchase. This is a no questions asked warranty that is much broader than many limited warranties.
This heavy-duty model is still priced for the budget of a homeowner, but it's best for people who need to do more arduous work. Maybe you have a lot of trees on your property, or maybe you often need to deal with shrubbery.
The machine can handle branches of up to 3 inches in diameter, so it's a good choice if you're cleaning up after a storm or cutting down trees. It won't chew through entire tree trunks like an industrial model would, but it will break down branches efficiently.
The machine is designed with a reduction ratio of 15:1. This means that every piece of debris fed into it is chopped into at least 15 smaller pieces. It is also capable of handling a lot of debris at once, making it ideal for people who are dealing with large cleanup needs.
The model can create wood chips, shred leaves, and break down mulch. There is a large feeding chute that extends to allow for a greater amount of debris in the hopper.
One of the unique aspects of the design is that the model is compact and portable, despite being a heavy-duty product. It is also more lightweight in its construction than the majority of steel chipper options on the market.
The extended chute will discharge mulch and wood chips wherever you want. In fact, you can adjust the angle anywhere from 90 to 145 degrees. This allows you to precisely aim at your mulch pile no matter where you are in the yard.
Like other heavy-duty options, this chipper runs on gasoline. It has a 7 horsepower engine that can handle large branches without a problem. The gas tank can hold up to 0.7 gallons of gas at a time.
The manufacturer notes that people should pay attention to the user manual and follow safety protocols. They should also wear eye and hand protection. The machine has been certified for use by the EPA and can be used to build firebreaks or help with fire prevention.
The model does not come with engine oil. Before you use it, you will need to put oil into the engine, or you'll end up harming it.
People in a variety of different industries use this model. It can be used in gardening, forestry, landscaping, and composting. One important note is that it should not be used for pine cones, vines, petrified wood, palm branches, or fresh green material.
Best Grass Shears
Another product from the manufacturers of Sun Joe products, this machine is built for people who live in colder climates. If you need a machine that can take care of your yard debris before the frost and snow hits, this is a good place to turn.
Like the previous electric motor on the list, this model has a 15-amp motor that can handle a variety of branches and debris. It's not quite as powerful as our top recommendation, but it can cut through branches of up to 1.5 inches in diameter.
If you have small cleanup jobs and don't need to deal with branches that are larger than 1.5 inches, this is a more affordable option than our top pick. It's a great choice for turning twigs and branches and leaf litter into mulch.
The top speed of the motor is 4100 rotations per minute. Like the other Sun Joe model, this is a compact design built with wheels for portability. The machine reaches a sound level of about 113 decibels while in use.
The safety hopper design keeps the hopper from operating while the mouth is open. You'll load your debris inside, and then you'll mulch it one load at a time. There is also an instant start button, so you don't have to deal with the hassle of turning on a gas-powered machine.
Every purchase comes with a two-year warranty. This is a good choice for those shopping on a budget, especially if you're looking for an electric motor that won't break the bank.
This is another heavy duty option that can handle branches of up to 3 inches thick. It's a good choice for those who want a powerful gasoline-based motor that's a little more inexpensive than our top recommendation.
The reduction ratio is 15:1, allowing the machine to break debris down into fifteen pieces each. It also has a high volume hopper that can handle large limbs, branches, and small debris.
The chute can be adjusted to fit your needs, so you can aim your mulch in the right direction. The machine has been certified for use by the EPA.
Best Lawn Sweepers
This is another heavy duty model that can handle much tougher debris than the average electric motor. At the same time, it's more affordable than the previous gas options on the list. That's because it tackles branches of up to 2.5 inches in diameter, rather than 3 inches.
The motor generates 6.5 horsepower, nearly as powerful as the previous engines. If you're looking for a more affordable machine that can handle larger jobs, you might want this one. It has been certified for use by the EPA and can be used for building firebreaks and helping with fire prevention measures.
The maximum diameter for chipping is 2.5 inches, but the machine can handle everything smaller than that without a problem. It has a ratio of 15:1, so it cuts debris into at least 15 pieces. The elongated top makes it easy to drop branches inside without getting caught yourself.
The gas-powered engine can spin at up to 3600 rotations per minute. That makes it significantly more powerful than most competing machines at this price point. There is a half-gallon tank capacity, or 2.1 liters.
Quite a few extra features have been included in the design. One is the quiet operating. The motor isn't quite as quiet as an electric model, but it is close. You can also start the engine by using a pull recoil that's easy to operate.
Filling the tank is also easy thanks to the Accu-Fill design. You never have to worry about overfilling the machine.
The model has been approved by all relevant agencies for operation in the US. It has met the emissions standards of the EPA and CARB certifications. Several aspects of the design have been put in place specifically to ensure the safety of the operator.
It is important to read the operator's manual and follow instructions. It is also important to keep up with the necessary maintenance. Since the model doesn't come with engine oil, you will need to add engine oil before you can use it.
This is one of the most hardcore models for household use on the list. It is a gas powered design with a powerful engine. The reduction ratio is a whopping 20:1, which means that your particles will be significantly more finely chipped with this than the competition.
That means that you will pay a little extra for it. But if you need the machine for a landscaping business, or for keeping up with a very large property, the extra cost will be well worth it. You end up with a fine mulch that can enrich your entire garden and lawn.
The cutting motor is 15.6 inches in size. It features two blades, which shred through leafy debris and smaller particles. There are also six hammers, which pound the branches into smaller pieces and help to push the chewed-up mulch out with higher efficiency.
This machine functions as a three-in-one option. It can chip branches into smaller pieces, but it can also shred smaller debris and create mulch. The maximum branch diameter is 3 inches, and it can handle anything below that as well.
Many machines like this aren't built to handle leaves, but this one is. It will break them down the same way it breaks down branches. Just make sure that your leaves are dry, since wet debris is more likely to clog the machine.
The gas engine starts by using a recoil pull-starter. Like the other powerful engines on the list, it boasts 7 horsepower and has a gas tank with an 0.7 gallon capacity.
Another helpful feature in this model is that it is easier to do maintenance than with many others. There are two windows that allow you to check on your maintenance needs.
At the front, you can open a window to quickly replace the blades. That way, you don't need to take the entire machine apart to get to them. At the back, you can open a window to clear any debris blocking the chute. That makes it much easier to keep your machine snag-free and ready to perform.
The machine is optimized for use around the house or in a variety of industries. It can make a helpful addition to any landscaping, gardening, or forestry equipment. It also makes it easier to recycle your yard waste and partake in composting.
Best Pruning Saws
If you have extremely large tree limbs or small tree trunks that you need to chip, this might be the choice for you. It is the most powerful option on the list, able to handle branches of up to 4 inches in diameter.
Though it's still good for use around the house, it's an investment you should only make if you'll use it often enough. It costs about twice as much as the other powerful gas engines on the list.
The engine generates 7 horsepower and has a dual direct drive gearbox. When the motor is cutting through wood, it can reach maximum speeds of 2200 rotations per minute.
The model comes with two double-edged blades. These can be reversed as time goes on. If one side of the blades dulls, you can simply flip them over to the other side. That way, you only have to sharpen the blades half as often.
You can adjust the blades at a 180 degree angle to better attack the debris. Both sides of the blade might cut through branches.
The product comes with heavy duty 10 inch tires. Meanwhile, the wheel base is 21 inches. That makes it significantly easier to transport the machine along uneven terrain or through mud. If your yard gets a lot of rain, this is a helpful bonus.
The machine has been certified by the EPA, so its emissions are not hazardous for the household at large. Unfortunately, since it is not CARB certified, it cannot be purchased by people in California.
The right wood chipper for you will vary based on your needs. Are you looking for an industrial or a household model? Do you need to chop up small or large branches? How often do you plan to use the machine?
If you're looking for an electric chipper, we recommend the Sun Joe CJ603E. This combination chipper and shredder can handle the majority of basic suburban jobs. It's also priced well to fit within your budget. You can use it for small branches, shrubbery, grass, and leaves.
If you're interested in a gas powered model, the SuperHandy Mini Chipper is a good option. It can handle branches up to 3 inches in thickness. You can adjust the output chute so that you always land in your garden or mulch pile, and the motor has a powerful reduction ratio.
The most powerful model on the list is the All Power America chipper. This one is a good option if you're dealing with branches larger than 3 inches in diameter. It's also a good choice if you need to transport your chipper around muddy fields.
However, that machine isn't CARB compliant, so it's only available outside of California.
Frequently Asked Questions
Wood chippers are machines that chop tree trunks, branches, and limbs into smaller chips. They are often used by homeowners, gardeners, landscaping professionals, and foresters to make it easier to clean up after cutting down pieces of wood.
These machines are favored by professionals because of their efficiency. A truck can haul away significantly more wood chips than full branches. If a team is engaged in a forestry task, they will save significant time and manpower by using a chipping machine.
Some of these machines may be built for personal use around the home. These tend to be smaller and built for bringing around a single property. Others might be built for commercial use. They will be dragged behind a truck from job site to job site.
No matter what kind of chipper is being used, the basic setup is the same. Bits of wood and shrubbery will be thrown into the hopper. They will then slide down to the blades and other cutting tools, which will chop them apart. A chute will spew the new chips out of the other side.
Disc chippers were the first type of wood chipper on the market. These models have a rotating disc that is mounted with multiple blades. There are wheels that pull the wood down into the disc, and the blades quickly spin and cut the wood apart.
These types of chippers are frequently favored by commercial forestry experts. They tend to create uniform chips that are excellent for use in mulching. The one drawback is that they might not break down smaller branches and shrubbery as well as a drum model.
Drum models use a motor called a steel drum. This motor spins and pulls wood downward as it is fed into the hopper. Since drum models are much more intense in their operation, they are often favored by people who need to break down leaves and small branches.
Both drum and disc models can create high-quality wood chips. The chips might vary in size and uniformity. You can expect to pay more for professional-grade models that create high quality chips.
Chippers can serve a variety of purposes. They are used in multiple professional industries and by homeowners. Because the projects they handle are so different, there are some chipping machines that are more specialized.
Wood shredders are smaller than chippers and have somewhat blunted blades. Shredders break down particles differently from chippers. They are better optimized to soft materials like twigs, leaf litter, and grass. Most people use them to make compost.
Chipper shredders combine chipping and shredding. These can be used for industrial purposes and for taking care of basic yardwork around the house.
Stump grinders are professional devices that grind up tree stumps. They are most commonly used in serious forestry, logging, and construction operations. The stumps are turned into sawdust and mulch by a strong cutting wheel.
You need to perform regular maintenance and upkeep to make sure that your chipper functions properly. If you fail to do so, not only will your chipper not run efficiently, but you might create a dangerous situation.
It is important to remember that chippers are dangerous. Make sure that you read the operating manual thoroughly. Keep up with the maintenance recommendations and follow all safety protocols.
The exact upkeep needs will vary depending on your model. But in general, most chippers will need:
When you're shopping for a wood chipper, there are a few different features and specifications that you should keep in mind.
The first is the capacity. How large can the pieces of wood be? Most machines will tell you the maximum diameter of the branches they can handle.
Small models that are meant for use around the home might be able to handle diameters of 2 to 3 inches. Industrial models might be able to handle thick tree trunks up to 13 feet in diameter.
You should also be concerned with the quality of the blades. Don't be fooled by the idea that more blades indicate more power. What matters is whether the blades are sharp enough and hard enough to chop through tough materials.
Another consideration is whether to get an electric or gas motor. Electric motors work well for smaller machines that handle small jobs throughout the year. They don't require oil changes or emit fumes.
But if you need to handle any large jobs, you'll want to go with a gas-powered motor. Gas motors can generate significantly more power than electric ones. They will require more maintenance and upkeep, though, and they do have a more negative environmental impact.
Those are the main components that make up a chipper. You might also look for models that have certain extra features, such as:
You don't necessarily need these features. But depending on how often you'll use the machine and what kind of work you're doing, they could be convenient.
Even the safest chipper designs still have the potential for accidents. Whether you're using a machine around the house or as part of an industrial project, you need to be careful.
The first and foremost guideline is to follow all of the rules in your operating manual.
If there are specific safety concerns about the design of your model, they will be outlined there. Your manual will tell you about the necessary maintenance, how to use the chipper, and what practices you should avoid at all costs.
You can also follow these basic guidelines for operating your machine: