The 4 Best Compost Shredders: 2021 Reviews and Buyer’s Guide

Are you considering purchasing a compost shredder to make your own compost? Or, are you looking for ways to help with leaf and debris clean-up around your property? Our list of the best compost shredders will guide you through your choices and help you choose one to meet your needs.

The best compost shredders

What is a compost shredder and why do you need one?

Compost shredders, also known as compost mulchers, are a great tool to add to your lawn care arsenal. 

Shredders are similar to wood chippers, however chippers are typically used for clean-up after major jobs like when an arborist cuts down or trims a tree. 

Chippers are considered to be pretty heavy duty equipment and are not ideal for intermittent homeowner use, or small jobs, like making compost for your lawn or garden.

One of the most popular ways of making compost is known as The Berkeley Method which produces finished compost quickly…like just 14 days later.

The key to quick compost is shredding the materials as small as possible. This creates the perfect environment for composting by:

  • Increasing the surface area for the microbes to begin doing their job
  • Helps to incorporate air into the pile
  • Evenly distributes moisture

Obviously, compost shredders are a great tool to get this job done.

We also love compost shredders because they can make yard and property clean-up a breeze. 

Even if you don’t plan to use them to make compost, these units can easily chop up and mulch twigs and leaves. Shredding and mulching your yard waste will decrease the volume of debris for easy transport to another location. 

Decreasing the volume will also allow for more yard debris to fit into waste bins.

Many compost shredders will have ratio ratings that will tell you how many gallons of mulch can be broken down to one (1) gallon.  For example an 11:1 ratio means that you can turn 11 bags of yard waste into one, making life a lot easier.

Most of the compost shredders we reviewed come with various stand designs to fit waste bins or garbage bags directly under the shredding blades to make collection a breeze.

Dumping your yard waste is more manageable when using a compost shredder but if you are an avid gardener you can use these broken down leaves and yard debris to add to your compost pile or mulch directly into your garden or landscape. 

The material that is provided after mulching works great in these applications as it will add organic matter to your soil, help with water retention as well as give a layer of weed protection to your garden.

Our list of the best compost shredders will help guide you through the information and help you find the best product for your application.

Our Top Compost Shredder Recommendations

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WORX WG430 Foldable Bladeless Mulcher/ Shredder

Worx WG430 13 Amp Electric Leaf Mulcher
  • [53 GALLONS/MIN] That’s right, the 13.0 Amp motor mulches up to 53 Gallons of leaves per minute

This powerful mulcher/shredder is a great option for homeowners.  This product is easily assembled with snap together fittings, which means no tools are necessary to put this together.  This function is great for fast and easy set-up as well as storage when the unit is not in use. We loved many of the features like the bladeless system, and easy top loading feature that allows you to just drop your leaves in by the shovel full. If you are looking to quickly turn yard debris into compost this little guy will get the job done.

Product Specs

  • 13 amp electric motor, no gas required
  • Mulches up to 53 gallons per minute
  • 11:1 mulching ratio
  • 13 inch cutting diameter
  • Collection bag attachment (bags not included)
  • Unit weight is 20lbs

Sun Joe SDJ616 13-Amp 16:1 Reduction Electric Leaf Shredder/Mulcher

Our second review comes from one our favorite homeowner brands Sun Joe.  Sun Joe’s electric leaf shredder has a large feeding tube making easy work for prepping large piles of debris for composting.  This shredder also has a variable speed option that is labeled for the type of debris you are dealing with.  Options include leaf, grass or pine needles.  The controls are large and easy to use even when you are wearing gloves.  Collection bags can be used with this unit as well as some smaller garbage bins.

Product Specs

  • 13 amp eco-friendly electric motor
  • Mulches up to 55 gallons per minute
  • 16:1 mulching ratio
  • Multiple speed settings
  • Collection bag attachment (bags not included)
  • Compatible with garbage bins – super handy!
  • Unit weight 13.4lbs
  • Easy to transport and store

Earthwise LM71313 Corded Electric Leaf Mulcher/Shredder

Earthwise LM71313 Amp 13-Inch Corded Electric Leaf Mulcher/Shredder, Green
  • Earthwise Power Tools by ALM powerful leaf shredder with a 13-Amp motor that delivers power and performance comparable to a gas leaf mulcher

Our next offering comes from Earthwise.  This leaf mulcher/shredder has a durable stand with rear wheels for easy transport.  Earthwise’s unit has one of the best bagging systems with an electric drawstring and easy removal.  It also has multiple setting and speeds that are user friendly and easy to use. Please note, this unit requires an extension cord for use, while the other models are cordless.

Product Specs

  • 13 amp motor
  • Mulches up to 55 gallons per minute
  • 16:1 mulching ratio
  • Multiple speed setting
  • Collection bag attachment (bags not included)
  • Compatible with garbage bins
  • Transport wheels for easy transportation
  • Product weight not listed

Sun Joe CJ603E 15-Amp Silent Electric Chipper/Shredder

Our final product recommendation is another unit from Sun Joe.  This is a hybrid unit that is a chipper/shredder combo can handle mulching limbs and twigs almost 2 inches thick.  Sun Joe’s chipper/shredder is much smaller in scale and comes with rear wheels for easy transport or storage.  The also unit comes with a small reusable collection bag.  Perfect for smaller properties with less debris, you’ll also love how quiet it is. Despite it’s small size this compost shredder also has the greatest mulching ration of 21:1.

Product Specs

  • 15 amp electric motor
  • Impressive 21:1 mulching ratio
  • Can much twigs and branches up to 1.73 inches
  • Included collection bag
  • Rear transport wheels
  • Zero carbon emissions
  • Built-in safety stop to reduce the risk of injury

Compost Grinder FAQ’s

What is the difference between a mulcher and a shredder?

There is no major difference between compost mulchers and shredders as the names are used interchangeably. 

These units are made to mulch leaves and small twigs.  Wood grinders and wood chippers are going to be heavier duty and are intended to chip and mulch limbs and larger branches. 

How do you shred compost material? 

There are a few ways that you can shred compost material. The easiest choice is to use one of compost shredders that we listed above.

You can also use a lawn mower or chipper to shred items before putting them in your compost as well.

If you are really strong and have nothing better to do, you could even use pruning shears to trim debris to 1 inch pieces, but in our opinion that’s crazy unless you just have a handful of items to shred.

Do you have to shred leaves for compost?

No, you do not have to shred leaves before adding them to your compost pile but you should consider it.  Putting leaves through a compost shredder will allow them break down insanely fast and add quality nutrients to your compost in no time. 

Leaves are generally abundant in most areas and can be your primary source for your compost’s brown material. Please note that most shredders work best on dry leaves.

Can you compost pine needles?

Yes, you can add pine needles to your compost pile.  Pine needles do break down a little slower so don’t add more than about 10% to your mixture. Putting pine needles through a shredder will definitely help them to break down faster.

Can a garden shredder shred cardboard?

Some garden shredders can shred cardboard.  If you are going to try this method it is best to pre-cut the cardboard into inch wide strips with a utility blade before attempting this method.  These smaller cardboard strips will decompose faster in your compost pile.

Can sticks and branches be composted?

Sticks and branches can be added to your compost pile.  These work best when broken down into smaller pieces using a shredder as that will help them break down faster.

How do you compost grass clippings fast?

 Smaller clippings will decompose much faster and allow more air volume in your compost bin compared to larger clippings. 

One of the best ways to get your grass clippings to compost faster is to run your clippings through a compost shredder/mulcher so that they are smaller than what a typical lawnmower will do.

You could also mow your lawn more often which would also produce smaller clippings and remove less of the leaf blades, which will ultimately make for a healthier lawn. 

What items should not go into my compost?

Items to avoid composting include

  • Meat, fish or eggs: Adding these can invite unwelcome pests to your compost and give off an unwanted odor. 
  • Pet waste from household pets.: These may contain parasites that would be unwanted in compost.
  • Plants that were removed due to disease or pest issues
  • Fats and oils
  • Burnt materials such as ash or coals

Can I make a manual hand-crank shredder?

We’ve seen a few videos online with directions on how to make these, but the honest truth is that hand grinding is hard work.

If you were only going to use it for leaves and grass it would work, but probably take more effort than it’s worth.

However, if you need to tackle any branches or twigs it will be nearly impossible to do by hand and with any significant amount, so it’s best to get the right equipment to do the job.

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