If you live on a wooded property, then you understand how trees can litter your yard with debris after a bad storm or an especially windy day. You can spend hours gathering up all those fallen branches and sticks and bagging them by hand, or you can save yourself time and labor by turning them into mulch with the help of a wood chipper.
Not only can a wood chipper break down branches measuring up to 3 inches in diameter, it can also help you with fall cleanup by shredding the leaves in your yard into compost. Wood chippers come in powerful gas models ideal for bigger jobs, or compact, lightweight electric machines great for light duty. If you’re looking to upgrade your yard care efforts with a wood chipper, we have the tips and advice you need to choose the right one.
Best Wood Chippers
The Expert (Tony Carrick): I’m a freelance writer who has written about landscaping, home improvement, gardening, and home security for publications like Bob Vila, U.S. News and World Report, Popular Science, Pro Tool Reviews, and Futurism. As someone whose backyard runs up against a forest, I’m familiar with the debris trees can leave in your yard and how challenging it can be to clean it up.
What to Consider
When it comes to chopping up yard waste, you have two options: wood chippers and leaf mulchers (also called leaf shredders).
Leaf mulchers can chop up leaves and twigs into small pieces that are easier to bag or are suitable for compost or mulch. While this makes them good assistants to have for fall leaf clean-up, a mulcher won’t help you break down tree branches. For that job, you’ll need a wood chipper, which can cut through branches up to 3 inches thick. Many wood chippers also function as mulchers, allowing you to handle all your yard clean up needs with one machine.
While a wood chipper may seem like the better machine, keep in mind that they are larger and more expensive than mulchers. If you only need a machine to manage your annual leaf cleanup, a mulcher is the best choice. Go with a wood chipper if your yard clean-up regularly involves breaking down fallen branches or even small trees.
If you decide to go with a wood chipper/mulcher, we recommend buying one with separate input chutes for each function. All chippers can shred to a certain extent, but those with separate hoppers work more efficiently and effectively.
Types of Wood Chippers
Capable of chipping branches between 0.5- and 2-inches in diameter, electric wood chippers are best suited for light-duty applications.
This is the quietest, lightest, and most affordable variety of wood chipper, but also the least powerful. And since electric wood chippers need to be plugged into an outlet, their portability is limited despite the lightweight design.
For these reasons, electric wood chippers are only suitable for light duty jobs that involve cleaning up branches and leaves from small to medium-sized wooded yards.
How We Evaluated
To make our picks of the best wood chippers, we drew from our own experience using these machines to break down tree branches and other yard waste. We also conducted extensive research, comparing the specs for more than 20 different wood chippers and scouring through dozens of user reviews. For this article update, we also drew on the original version, authored by James Fitzgerald.
Our list includes both electric and gas machines of varying size and price points to suit different needs. So whether you’re cleaning up fallen limbs in a wooded yard or a small farm, we have the right one for you.
When it comes to power and multipurpose functionality, GreatCircleUSA offers one of the best wood chippers available. This three-in-one model is equipped with a large top hopper for shredding leaves or small twigs and a side hopper for chipping branches up to 3 inches in diameter—all at an impressive 15-to-1 reduction ratio.
To maximize the chipper’s versatility, GreatCircleUSA also offers a separate vacuum attachment for sucking up leaves and twigs without having to bend over. The chipper is equipped with a sturdy handle and rugged wheels to make it easy to move around manually.
If you’re interested in saving money and space without skimping on quality, Sun Joe’s 15-amp wood chipper includes an impressive range of features for an affordable price.
The combination of its light weight, small size, and sturdy wheels makes it easy to store and transport, yet the machine remains powerful enough to process branches up to 1.5 inches in diameter with a 17-to-1 reduction ratio. Even though that’s the smallest chipping capacity on the list, it still remains an excellent option for anyone on a budget who wants to turn their yard waste into usable ground cover.
The Landworks mini wood chipper and mulcher lends power and versatility without compromising on mobility. It has a 7-horsepower engine and is capable of chipping branches up to 3 inches wide with a 15-to-1 reduction ratio. The large hopper can easily swallow twigs, leaves, and other yard waste.
It weighs 99.8 pounds and is equipped with two large wheels for transporting around your property. Perhaps the most unique feature is the adjustable discharge chute that lets you eject the chipped material at a 90- to 145-degree angle.
Electric wood chippers have a number of advantages, but chipping capacity usually isn’t one of them. With its 2.5-inch capacity, the Patriot Products 1.5-horsepower chipper changes that.
You can chip large branches through the side chute, then flip the switch to feed leaves and smaller branches through the top. The chipper has wheels and weighs just 95 pounds, so you can easily move it around your property.
Patriot Products also sells a heavy-duty 100-foot extension cord that it recommends customers use with the chipper.
If you have a tractor with a PTO attachment and need the largest chipping capacity possible, Titan Attachments’ PTO chipper is a must-have. It boasts the ability to chip branches—even entire trees—up to four inches in diameter at a reduction ratio of 20-to-1.
Oversized rotors mean you don’t have to worry about this chipper clogging or jamming on large-diameter branches. The adjustable discharge chute lets you direct the chips exactly where you want them, and the detachable feed chute makes it simpler to store and transport.
This chipper is compatible with most tractor brands and models with engines up to 40 horsepower, but if you have a tractor with a larger engine, Titan Attachments makes a larger version of this chipper, too.
With separate chutes for chipping branches up to 3 inches in diameter and shredding leaves, the Yardmax 2-in-1 chipper shredder can handle all your yard clean-up needs. It reduces yard waste at 10-to-1 mulch ratio, making it easy to bag up waste for disposal or recycle it as mulch. There’s also a large 2 bushel collection bag, so you won’t have to stop as often to empty it.
At 116 pounds, the Yardmax certainly isn’t light, but its large wheels and a handle that spans the length of the chute make wheeling it around manageable. You’ll also have an easy time storing this wood chipper, as it’s also one of the more compact gas wood chippers on the market.
While the smaller size of the Yardmax makes it unsuitable for heavy duty use, it’s a reasonably priced choice for a homeowner who needs to manage their wooded property.
With its large 7 horsepower engine, this commercial grade machine from DK can chip branches up to 3 inches in diameter through the side feed chute and handle a large volume of twigs, leaves and smaller yard waste with its large hopper. The chipper is towable via either a riding lawn tractor or ATV. And since it comes equipped with large 14-inch tires with thick tread, you can tow well off the beaten path.
DK2 is known for building machines that can hold up to everyday use, and this model is no exception. It’s made from heavy gauge steel and uses a carbide steel blade for cutting. It also comes equipped with a key safety that prevents unauthorized users from starting it up. If you have acres of wooded land to manage or are responsible for managing other people’s properties, this chipper is a great choice.
With its upright position, this chipper has a smaller footprint than most, so you’ll have an easier time storing it in a garage or shed. Just keep in mind that its chute is a few inches taller than that of other models, which can make it more difficult to feed leaves and other yard waste into it.
Along with its compact size, we also like its power output. It comes equipped with a 338cc engine and is capable of chipping branches up to 3 inches thick at a high 20-to-1 ratio, perfect for turning yard waste into mulch or compost.
The chipper sits on two large wheels with never-flat tires, so you won’t have to worry about punctured tires, and it has a handle to wheel it around. With its compact size, the Champion is a great choice if you need the services of a chipper but have limited space to store it.
Wood Chipping Tips From Our Expert James Fitzgerald
The first, and most important, step is to wear the proper personal protective equipment, such as safety goggles, hearing protection, and possibly gloves. Place the chipper on an even, stable surface and check the hopper and ejection chute for any obstructions. Either attach the provided collection bag to the ejection chute or aim the chute to the area you want the chips to land.
Turn the chipper on and start feeding the material you want to chip into the hopper, making sure to place the appropriate material into the designated hopper if your chipper is equipped with separate chutes. When feeding branches, insert the widest portion of the branch (often the end that you cut, at the base of the branch) into the hopper first.
James Fitzgerald is a home improvement freelance writer with over a decade of experience in a variety of trades—he has worked as a ranch hand, construction carpenter, tree climber, maintenance technician, and handyman. His freelance work focuses on DIY, landscaping, gardening, and home improvement. James’s writing has appeared in Bob Villa, The Family Handyman, The Spruce, HomeServe USA, Forbes Home, and This Old House.
Tony Carrick is a full-time freelance writer who specializes in technology, home improvement, DIY, home security, and outdoor recreation. He’s tested and written about everything from home security systems to power tools to gas grills. His product guides, how-to articles, and feature stories can be found in such publications as Bob Vila, Angi, U.S. News and World Report, Field & Stream, Futurism, and Switchful. When Tony isn’t writing, he can be found working on his latest home improvement effort at his home in North Carolina.