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What Size Of Wood Chipper Do I Need?

Wood chippers are undoubtedly an excellent addition to your collection of landscape and garden equipment. For your regular hedge trimming, tree pruning, and property cleanup, it is important to own a wood chipper so as to make life so much easier for yourself. And when winter begins to come to an end and the weather gradually warms up, it is entirely normal to find some dead trees or loose trunks lying around your property. Purchasing a chipper is also several times cheaper than regularly renting one; in addition, the material output resulting from chipping is excellent for mulching and composting your garden or property. This will save you a lot of money in the long run.

What Size Of Wood Chipper Do I Need?

To determine the size of a wood chipper you have to look at the type of material, and the diameter of the material you plan on chipping. Most cheaper shredders can handle wood and other material up to 1/2 inch, powerful consumer chippers can handle diameters up to 4 inches. For thicker wood, you need a professional wood chipper.

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However, it is important to know the right size of the chipper required for your task. The trick to knowing the right size of the wood chipper you need is to classify the wood material you plan on chipping based on the type and diameter. The type of output helps you determine whether you’ll need a shredder, a chipper, or a model with both the shredding and chipping properties. The diameter, on the other hand, helps calculate the feed capacity requirements for the chipper. Do you wish to know the right size of the wood chipper for you? Don’t worry, in this article, we will guide you on how to make the right choice when it comes to the size of your wood chipper.

How to Determine the Right Size of Wood Chipper You Need

As stated above, there are two main factors to put into consideration that would help you determine the right size of a chipper for you. The first one involves categorizing the type of material that you plan on chipping. For the second factor, you’ll need to determine the diameter of the material that you plan to chip. This will help you determine the size and capacity of the chipper that you need.

Step 1 – Determine The Type Of Material You Plan On Chipping

Here are some types of material that you might want to chip or shred:

  • Dead twigs and landscape clippings
  • Dead leaves
  • Tree branches and trunks
  • Yard brush and overgrowth

● Small Twigs and Landscape Clippings

The first type of yard work that most homeowners and landscapers have to deal with each year includes trimming of bushes, twigs, shrubs, and other organic plants. Each year, you end up spending many hours preparing your roses, shrubs, and other plants for the spring. When it comes to the clippings, what then should you do? Although, you can just let them be and simply mulch some of the water over, this only works in some cases. A better alternative to handling clippings is by using a wood shredder or chipper. In this scenario, you can decide to go with either of these machines as they are both capable of handling twigs and landscape clippings. However, you must note that a wood shredder will do the job better and easier because they lack guard flaps on the input chute and they expel much smaller output than the wood chipper. So if you want to process small twigs and landscape clippings, then the size of the machine you need can include a shredder, a chipper, or a combination unit.

● Dead Leaves

It is normal for the beginning of the fall season to bring a sense of dread of some sort where you have so many leaves that must be cleaned up. In fact, for many people, cleaning up these leaves take up a lot of time and it is quite a tiring chore. However, if you decide to let them be and do nothing, you might end up ruining your lawn. You may decide to deal with leaves through the following ways:

  • Trash bags: Collect the leaves and stuff them into several lawn-sturdy trash bags to be hauled away.
  • Burn: Collect the leaves and burn them, while possibly violating local rules or laws.
  • Mulch with lawnmower: Try to mulch the leaves using your lawnmower which really doesn’t solve the problem.
  • Mulch with lawn vacuum: Use a lawn vacuum to collect and mulch the leaves.

A lawn vacuum that has a mulching feature is arguably one of the best options here. However, not everyone has access to a lawn vacuum (the particular model you have may not even shred the leaves up to a fine consistency), hence, a good alternative would be to use a wood chipper. Wood chippers are specifically designed to reduce organic material from about 15 bags to 1 bag, and the resulting shredded material can even be used as compost for gardens and landscape. In case you don’t have a garden, you can also spread the shredding across your lawn to serve as a fertilizer due to the high nitrogen content.

A wood shredder has small hammers or blunt blades that rotate at a high speed to shred and reduce leaves and other material down to a very fine consistency. This consistency cannot be achieved with a standalone wood chipper as it will only clog the machine. So if you plan on shredding leaves to a finer consistency, then the size of the machine you’ll need should include a shredder or a wood chipper with shredding feature.

● Tree Branches and Trunks

Tree branches are another type of organic material that most homeowners must have to deal with. You can end up with lots of tree branches on your lawn due to various reasons:

  • Some species of trees naturally drop branches from time to time.
  • Some species of trees are susceptible to heavy winds and storms, which make them drop their branches when heavy winds blow through.
  • When you cut down a tree, it is normal to have loose branches and tree trunks that would require cleanup.

If you have lots of trees on your yard that often require yearly clean up, then the size of wood chipper you’ll need depends on some additional factors which you will find in step 2 below.

● Yard Brush

Another type of material that many homeowners have to deal with actually, is yard brush and overgrowth, which include some invasive growth that you want to get rid of.  If you have the land, an easy way to get rid of yard brush is by burning it in a yard pit. However,  you will end up losing valuable organic material which could be quite useful in feeding your garden and landscape.

A great alternative to burning is using a chipper to chip the yard brush and using it as mulch or compost for your garden or lawn. In this case, if you have a constant supply of brush, then a simple stand-alone shredder cannot do the work properly as most brush is beyond its capacity. If you’ll be dealing with a lot of brush, then the size of wood chipper you need is a wood chipper that requires sharp blades for chipping. We will talk more about this in step 2 below.

Step 2 – Determine The Diameter Of The Material You Plan On Chipping

The second factor you must consider in finding the right size of wood chipper for your need is to calculate the diameter of the material you want to process.

● Less than Half an Inch

Basically, most stand-alone shredders can shred material up of 1/2″ in diameter but not more.  If you plan on shredding only material under a half-inch in diameter (twigs, leaves, and small branches), then a standalone shredder will do just fine. However, if your task requires more than just shredding leaves, then you should go for a chipper as it provides more flexibility.

● Between 1 Inch and 2.5 Inches

As the material goes beyond half-inch, a stand-alone shredder becomes less efficient and you start to realize that you need features only a chipper can offer. Unlike the shredder, a wood chipper has one or more blades that are designed to handle larger material such as tree branches. A home-model chipper can handle material with a diameter of up to 2.5 inches. However, when you constantly feed branches of diameter greater than two inches, you could end up deforming the blades of your chipper. As long as you work with a material of more than 1″ but less than 2.5″ in diameter, then you’re good to go with any residential chipper.

● Between 3 Inches and 4 Inches

The final category of the wood size that consumer chippers can handle is material between 3 to 4 inches in diameter (anything that goes beyond that would be left for commercial tree chippers to handle). This is where it gets a bit tricky as some manufacturers claim that their chippers can handle 3″ debris yet their blades are not hardened steel and can prematurely dull. Instead of taking the risk, you can try to size up your chipper instead, and get a bigger one with at least a 10 to 14 horsepower motor. A chipper with higher horsepower is a great choice as it can quickly handle many types of yard debris, such as larger diameter brush, tree limbs, and overgrowth. So if you’ll be working on a lot of 3 to 4-inch branches, then size up and go for a chipper with higher horsepower (that fits your budget).