How to Use a Garden Shredder

Updated February 21, 2017

A garden shredder can be an invaluable tool for dealing with autumn leaves, small branches and other yard waste around your home. They turn these materials into composting materials or attractive mulch. Using one safely and effectively is important.

Position the garden shredder in a place in your yard convenient to whatever you want shredded and an electrical socket if the apparatus needs to be plugged in. A flat area of lawn is best. Put on sturdy garden gloves and safety glasses to protect yourself from flying debris.

Lay a tarp or position a wheelbarrow or yard cart under the wood chip outlet port. What fits in this location will depend on the size and style of the garden shredder. Gather together the yard waste you intend to shred or chip with the machine in a convenient pile.

Turn the garden shredder on as soon as you are ready to begin shredding material. Use your hands or a leaf rake to pick up piles of leaves and drop them in the top of a garden shredder. Some varieties have small ramps where leaves can be raked onto near the bottom of the machine. The leaves are sucked up, shredded and shot out the other side onto your waiting tarp.

Feed small twigs and woody plant material less than a half inch thick into the same receptacle as the leaves. Most garden shredders can handle this thickness with ease. You should read the manufacturer's directions and specifications before using the garden shredder to make sure.

Save larger branches to be done all together and separate from the leaves and small twigs if desired. Move the tarp with the loose leaf shreds elsewhere and use a clean one for the wood chips. This is important if you intend to use them for attractive mulch around bedding plants, bushes or trees. Shredded leaves and plants are good for other applications.


Use a sturdy stick to push materials into the machine if necessary.


Never service the shredder while plugged in or on. Do not put your hand past the safety line.

Things You'll Need

  • Garden shredder
  • Garden gloves
  • Safety goggles
  • Tarp
  • Rake
  • Wheelbarrow or yard cart (optional)
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