The best garden shredder will save you a lot of time and hassle when it comes to disposing of all those unwieldy branches you’ve just hacked off your overgrown trees, hedges and shrubbery.
Instead of spending ages snipping all the twigs and branches to a manageable size for disposal in the green waste bin or at your local council dump, a good garden shredder will do the job in a fraction of the time and reduce all foliage to a much more manageable size, which you can then either put on the compost heap or in the council bin.
For this guide we've called in a cluster of well-received domestic models and put them through their paces using a variety of pruned vegetation.
As we do when we're rating any sort of garden tool or piece of machinery, such as the Best Pressure Washers, Best Cordless Lawn Mowers or Best Garden Tools, we've also supplied some buying advice below on what you should be looking out for in a garden shredder.
The best garden shredders you can buy in 2023
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The Cobra QS2500 is our favourite garden shredder for performance, low noise level and price. Similar in both design and function to the popular Bosch AXT 25 TC, this drum shredder impresses in a number of ways but mostly on price.
This writer has used the Cobra QS2500 on a number of occasions and it has excelled every time. On at least two occasions, I fed it about 25 beech tree branches with full foliage one after another and it just kept on churning.
This model accepts branches of up to 4cm in diameter though, in essence, it will swallow anything you can fit through the top-mounted portal. Just be sure to lop off any nubs and stalks beforehand and give it time to complete its task before stuffing in another branch. Also be sure not to try and push in a branch that is clearly too big to fit through the soft rubbery porthole or you could damage the cutting plate. I did that but was amazed to discover that spares are readily available. In fact, there are spare parts for almost every part of this machine – and every other Cobra product. And that’s why this writer is such a fan of the brand.
Being of the drum variety, the Cobra is exceptionally quiet in operation – in fact it makes far less noise than a cordless lawnmower. Its drum simply churns continuously, chucking the remnants of bushes and trees into its ample 50-litre collection box.
Granted, the fully-leafed beech branches I tested it with remained in one mangled piece as opposed to being completely cut all the way through, but that didn’t bother me because I wasn’t considering using the mulched results as garden fertiliser. Instead I simply poured the contents into my garden waste bin.
If you’re after a top-performing garden shredder that is almost as quiet as a field mouse while being relatively cheap to buy, then this one is a shoo-in.
Like an enormous masticating juicer, this quiet, electric-powered 2,500 watt turbine model uses a bladed drum that spins relatively slowly under massive torque, trapping, crushing and cutting branches up to 45mm in diameter against a solid plate.
The Bosch handles both wood and leafy materials, as was amply demonstrated when I fed it half a fig tree, green fruit and all. It chopped and crushed the whole thing into tiny pieces and deposited them into the box below ready for easy disposal in the garden bin or compost heap – some shredding aficionados will even spread the nutritious remains over flowerbeds.
Rather considerately of Bosch, this heavyweight model comes ready-built with the wheels already attached, so all you need to do is clip in the top hopper, ensure the 53-litre collection box is properly engaged, switch it on and shred. The top of the chute has a slightly wider access than others in this roundup and that makes it generally easier to stuff in branches of a more unwieldy nature, while the included tamper helps coax mutinous vegetation.
If you have a mixture of both wood and leaves in your garden, this Bosch shredder is a great choice. It justifies its slightly higher price by being extremely effective, easy to use and quiet enough to not disturb the neighbours. To see how this shredder fares against a top rival product, take a look at our Bosch AXT 25 TC vs Einhell GH-KS 2440 comparison feature.
You’re not going to get Bosch-like build quality at this price but what you will get is an extremely efficient multi-talented impact shredder that mulches both woody and leafy material in a thrice. Just be sure to keep tree branches below the 45mm maximum diameter and snip off any extraneous branches or they won’t fit through the feeder portal.
The 2,500-watt Einhell uses a pair of fast spinning blade to cut through vegetation but larger pieces of hardwood and too many leaves will likely block the chute which means reaching for the included tamper. It’s quite a scary machine, mind, since it literally slices through branches in a violent and exceedingly noisy manner. Thankfully, a motor circuit breaker switch cuts in to protect it from overloading.
The Einhell performed surprisingly well when fed a pile of long, thick rose branches, chopping the whole lot up into small 5mm pieces with only the occasional hiccup. Although it’s equipped with a discharge funnel, you will need to place a sheet of tarpaulin or a large plastic trug underneath the chute to catch all the clippings. If you only do occasional pruning and don’t require the brute force of a Bosch or Cobra, then this is a good budget-priced starting point.
If you can’t afford the Cobra QS2500 or Bosch AXT 25 TC, give this cheaper but equally useful alternative a whirl. It’s a lot more mobile for start though you will need a box, tarpaulin or garden trug underneath it to collect the ejected detritus.
The Rapid 2200 uses tough laser-cut blades to slice through vegetation (preferably of the harder, drier variety) in a thrice. It’ll happily swallow branches up to 40mm in diameter though you may need to trim a few stems in order to feed those branches of a more ungainly persuasion into the hopper.
This model is of the impact variety which means it’s noisy in operation. It works well with dry canes and most tree branches but not so well with fibrous materials which can occasionally jam up the aperture. Still, for the price it’s a very decent performer indeed. You can compare this garden shredder to the other top-rated Bosch unit in this guide in our Bosch AXT 25 TC vs Bosch AXT Rapid 2200 comparison feature.
This model offers big shredding power and a large 55-litre collection bin. With 3000 watts of cutting power, the Ryobi RSH3045U 3000W has got enough grunt to go through all but the largest of garden detritus, with two reversible, hardened steel blades designed to shred branches, brambles and shrubs to a fine mulch.
The only real down side of this shredder is how it looks, which is not particularly premium. Also, it’s not exactly ‘silent’ as the ad suggests. Nevertheless, the Ryobi delivers plenty of bang for your buck, mainly due to the amount of power it offers.
Got a garden with a mixture of hard-wooded trees, firs, shrubs and rubbery plants? Step right this way because this tall-standing, multi-functional model does the lot by dint of a unique ‘blade rotation reversal system’ that deals with both hard and soft materials.
For leaves, twigs and palm fronds, flick the switch on the front and shove some greenery into the large opening. The blades spin at high speed ripping everything to shreds. Likewise, when it comes to the harder stuff, turn the knob to the branch setting, feed in anything up to 35mm in diameter and out comes a pile of tiny wood chippings ready for the compost heap, the borders or the green wheelie bin.
This model doesn’t come with a collection box though it does at least feature a guard hood. I’d advise placing a garden tarpaulin underneath the exit chute so you don’t end up with a garden full of chippings and mulched leaves.
The Stihl GHE 355 is an extremely efficient shredder-cum-chipper but it costs a lot of wonga and, at 1.41 metres, is exceedingly tall. But, hey, it’s a Stihl so you can safely expect it to shred till the cows come home.
This 'dirty' garden shredder may or may not be 'pro' but it is equipped with a powerful 2,500 watt engine that should be able to shred most things short of a crowbar. Users queue up to applaud the way this cheap ’n’ chunky chaff chewer gulps down branches up to 40cm in diameter and then farts them out into a large 50-litre box as little wooden chips.
Ironically, the more seemingly lightweight likes of leaves can cause it to choke, splutter and come to a halt, so stick to the heavy stuff. You can clear blockages easily enough by unscrewing a knob and gaining access to the blades. I'd advise doing this with the machine switched off, but hey, it's a free country.
At this price, you’re not going to be getting the best quality components and, sure enough, one common online complaint with this shredder is that its blades blunt quickly. On the other hand (which I thankfully still have), to get something that shreds as well as this for a shade under £100 is quite a rare treat.
This smart-looking electric model is about the same size and weight as the Bosch and Cobra, and just as well built, though some assembly is required, including fitting the wheels.
However, it doesn’t tackle as many different materials as the Bosch and Cobra, and struggles with anything that has high moisture content like large leaves and soft springy branches. I fed it the same type of rose branches that the cheap Einhell model made light work of and it jammed up a few times requiring me to hit the reverse button to free up some of the leafy congestion.
It also doesn’t come with a tamper which would have felt somewhat safer than using a stick to coax in some of the more rebellious stuff. It eventually swallowed the lot but closer inspection of the huge 67-litre collection bin revealed that it had simply crushed rather than cut the branches, which meant I wasn’t able to spread the remnants over the flowerbeds.
However, it made a much better fist of dealing with a couple of 30mm hardwood branches once I'd cut off a few gnarly twigs to get the branch through the small hopper opening. It was pretty quiet, too, which seemed to please the neighbours.
How to buy the best garden shredder for you
Let’s cut to the chase. These domestic shredders aren’t like those machines the council uses when pruning trees in the street, or like the one Peter Stormare feeds Steve Buscemi into in that memorable scene from Fargo.
Most of the models here won’t handle anything thicker than 45mm in diameter so you can forget stuffing in a tree trunk. You will also need to snip off stiff twigs and large stubby bits or the branch simply won’t fit through the hopper’s opening slot. Think hard about whether you really need a shredder in the first place and whether you have room. Many people will likely only use it a couple of times a year and the rest of the time they’ll need somewhere under cover to store it.
There are two main types of shredder: impact and drum. Impact shredders use sharp, fast-spinning blades to cut into garden waste and can process a wider variety of materials, including most hard wood branches and fresh, moist cuttings and leaves. However, they are extremely noisy and their blades will eventually blunt if used excessively. They can also jam up if asked to process too much at a time.
Drum (or quiet) shredders tend to crush the material using a slow rotating, bladed wheel that traps plant matter against a solid plate before cutting it into little pieces. Drum shredders make far less noise but aren’t considered as effective at dealing with leafy materials.
Most shredders are equipped with a reverse switch to release trapped vegetation (it happens a lot) and some are equipped with a handy tamper to help force undisciplined branches into the portal of death.
Be careful how you insert branches as they jiggle about violently while they’re being swallowed. If it’s a thorn-covered branch and you’re holding on to it, lacerations are a very real risk. You’re advised to wear gloves and goggles or sunglasses. A stylish, hi-viz jacket is optional.