How we test garden shredders
By Adelaide Gray
We've independently tested a range of best-selling garden shredders so you can shop for the best model for your garden with confidence.
Our reviews answer the most crucial questions about garden shredders:
- How efficiently does it shred garden debris?
- Can it be trusted not to keep blocking?
- How noisy is it?
- How easy is it to use?
- Should I buy it?
Find out which garden shredders made the cut by visiting our garden shredder reviews.
How efficiently does it shred garden debris?
Above all, you need to be confident that your shredder can turn your garden waste into manageable clippings as quickly as possible and without fuss.
We put each shredder through a series of rigorous tests to find out if it's up to the job.
Each shredder has a mix of both easy and difficult-to-shred waste fed through it for 30 minutes. We rate the shreddings for how fine they are and weigh the material produced to see how much it shredded.
Our tests are specially designed to reflect the way you will use your shredder in your own garden, so we use a variety of garden debris to check shredding efficiency including:
- straight, fresh branches, up to 20mm in diameter
- prunings from an overgrown conifer hedge
- spiny and woody branches with side-shoots growing at awkward angles
- soft, fibrous plants
- dead branches up to the maximum diameter specified for the shredder (typically 30-40mm)
Our tests are specially designed to reflect the way you will use your shredder in your own garden
Can it be trusted not to keep blocking?
If you're in the middle of a big garden clearance, the last thing you need is a shredder that slows you down by constantly blocking.
We note down how often each shredder blocks or stalls, and how easy it is to unclog according to the manufacturer's instructions.
The best shredders should be quick and fuss-free to unblock, without needing any special tools and all of the necessary parts you need to reach to unblock it are located in simple and safe to access place.
We note down how often each shredder blocks or stalls
How noisy is it?
You can't tell in the shops if the shredder you're looking at will be deafeningly loud so, as well as assessing its shredding performance and efficiency, we also check how noisy each model is when running.
We rate the loudness of each shredder when switched on but not shredding any material, and when shredding woody debris.
And we don't stop there. We also rate the noise levels at different distances, so we can tell you whether a shredder will be irritatingly loud not just for you, but for your neighbours as well.
How easy is it to use?
Each shredder is rated for ease of use, so we can find out how simple each model is to operate for novice and experienced shredder users alike.
We rate how easy it is to feed branches into the machine, how easy it is to clear blockages, and how easy it is to clean, move and store.
If the shredder comes with a collector, we also rate how good a job it does at collecting the shreddings, so you can be confident that you won't have to spend ages clearing up unnecessary mess.
Should I buy it?
All of the assessments listed above go into making the final overall score for each garden shredder we review. Because we know what's most important to you, some elements are more important than others, so carry different weights:
- 35% ease of use
- 25% shredding east material (straight, fresh branches)
- 25% shredding difficult material (stringy perennials and spiny prunings)
- 15% moving around, noise and vibration
A model has to achieve 70% or more to earn our Best Buy recommendation, and anything scoring below 45% is highlighted as a Don't Buy that we think you should avoid.