Have you got a load of wood waste that you need to dispose of? Large pieces of wood are often too big and cumbersome to simply throw in the trailer, meanwhile cutting them down to smaller pieces can be far too labour intensive. To get the job done, you're going to need either a chipper or a mulcher. Both are very handy and portable pieces of agricultural equipment specifically designed to reduce bulk wood waste to a more manageable state. But what's the difference between the two?

Let's jump in and take a look at each of them and find out which is best for you.

Wood Chipper

This simple and portable piece of gear has been relied on for years to break down trees and larger branches when clearing bush blocks or taking on large garden cleanups. They're generally used for chipping branches, pruned offcuts and even palms up to 95mm. A robust wood chipper is the go-to tool for getting rid of large amounts of garden waste or wood clearing.

How a wood chipper works

Wood is fed into a large hopper which sends it to a chamber that houses a large flywheel with chipper blades attached to it. This flywheel is usually powered by a petrol engine which spins the flywheel at high speed to shred organic material such as tree trunks, tree limbs, small branches and even leaves. After shredding, small refined wood chips are ejected through a long chute and into a collection bin.

Good quality wood chippers can turn unwanted dead trees and thicker branches into natural garden toppings, pathways, and even wood chip play areas for the kids.

Garden Mulcher

Sometimes known as a chipper shredder, a mulcher is a similar tool to a chipper, however, they are geared more towards domestic use. They're perfect for transforming various plants and foliage into fine natural mulch but are not designed to deal with large tree branches or other bigger and tougher waste materials.

They can make an excellent addition to your tool shed at home as they can easily handle smaller tree limbs, shrubs, twigs, kitchen waste and newspaper. But, they do have their limitations and will struggle with larger-scale chipping.

How do mulchers work?

At a glance, mulchers just look like a smaller version of a wood chipper. Like a chipper, a mulcher has a chute that the wood materials are fed into, along with an opening where the processed material is ejected. Inside, mulchers have slightly blunt blades that are called flails which break down or reduce small chunks of organic material. Unlike chippers, mulchers have two hoppers instead of one, meanwhile, they are without the long ejection chute that you would normally get with a wood chipper.

What you should avoid putting into your chipper or mulcher?

Many chippers and mulchers are not designed to break down palm fronds and branches, bamboo, dead and dry branches or any non-organic materials. As tempting as it is to treat a chipper or mulcher as an instant fix for waste disposal, putting non-organic material into is a surefire way to break it.

Some wood may have metal inserted or wrapped around it like nails, spikes or barbed wire. Any such material will have to be removed prior to it being fed into the machine to avoid serious damage.

Manure and other animal waste can sometimes be added to the waste but it can also smear and get stuck in crevices, making the equipment hard to clean and maintain.

It’s also best to keep vines well away from all wood chippers as they can quickly become tangled around the blades. 

Chipper vs mulcher: which should you buy?

Choosing between chippers and mulchers will likely come down to factors like price, and storage space. But in a straight shootout between the two pieces of equipment, the chipper always comes out on top, particularly if you're putting it to use in an agricultural or commercial setting.

Mulchers are quite limited in what they are capable of processing, and can easily damage if you attempt to mulch wood waste that is beyond what it's designed for.

Chippers, on the other hand, simply are designed to deal with large pieces of wood debris. So in the end, a chipper will do everything that a mulcher can do, plus much more. That's why we always recommend choosing a chipper over a mulcher.

At Boya Equipment, we stock a wide range of models, including the brilliant Hansa C4 chipper. For the right advice and the best range of chippers, get in touch with us or come and see our excellent range for yourself at our Wangara warehouse. We'll make sure you've got all the chipping power you need!