Homeowners may consider a standalone lawn shredder as a luxury that's only used several days a year. However, shredding leftover organic material from the garden and yard will significantly speed up the composting process. Using a lawnmower is a simple, low-cost do-it-yourself way to shred stems, leaves and other debris. With a few minutes of work, a mound of garden material is reduced to finely shredded greens and browns ready for composting.
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Things you need
- 24- to 36-inch-high chicken wire fence, approximately 40 feet
- 4 wooden or metal stake posts
- Cardboard pieces for lining enclosure
Lay out a circle approximately 4 to 8 feet in diameter, depending on the amount of material to be shredded. Pound stakes firmly into the soil, equally spaced around the circle.
Fasten the chicken wire fencing to one stake with some cord, then wrap it around the perimeter of the other stakes to form an enclosure. Leave an opening large enough for the lawnmower. Fasten the fence to the three stakes.
Tie the cardboard to the fence's outer perimeter, making a complete outer cover for the circle. This ensures that the material stays in the circle.
Spread the organic material no more than 1 foot high into the fenced area.
Raise the mower to the highest wheel setting, move it over the material and start it. Move the mower back and forth, and in other patterns, as the material shreds. If necessary, stop and remove the mower, then stir the mixture to bring up unshredded material. Continue until you're satisfied with the shredding.
Remove the material and continue with the next batch of garden and yard debris to be shredded.
Remove the cardboard, chicken wire and stakes. Save them for next year. If desired, the cardboard can be cut up into smaller pieces and also composted.
Tips and warnings
- Large cardboard boxes are often given away for free by appliance stores.
- Try shredding with and without the attached bag to see which works best.
- Wear appropriate eye and ear protection when using a lawnmower.
- Shredding yard waste will dull the blade. Have it sharpened before cutting the grass.
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