A shredder mulcher breaks up wood into mulch. A leaf mulcher is less heavy-duty and shreds leaves which can then be used for mulch. Deciding which is the right mulcher for you depends on what kind of landscape that you have and how you want to use the resulting mulch.
If the principal material that you want to shred is leaves then a leaf mulcher may be the right choice for you. A leaf mulcher will mulch most dry plant materials. Leaf mulchers can be in the form of a lawnmower with a leaf mulching blade. You can attach a mulcher blade to an existing mower. A free-standing leaf mulcher has a barrel set over a container with a wide opening and blades mounted below the opening. Simply feed in the leaves and they are shredded. The shredder drastically reduces the volume of the leaves. This kind of shredder is not meant for wood or denser materials.
If you have strong vines, sapling, and other wood that needs to be broken up into mulch then a shredder mulcher, also called a chipper shredder, may be a better choice for you. A chipper shredder can take in logs and large branches as well. It can even make your Christmas tree into mulch for your garden. An electric motor or a fueled engine powers a set of gears that turn a set of large blades. It has a gear box that controls the speed and power level. There are different kinds of blades found in a shredder mulcher. Some sets of blades are attached to rotating shafts. As the blades pass over the material it is cut up into smaller and smaller pieces. Another kind of blades are inter-meshing blades. These kinds of blades are used in self-feeding mulcher. This kind of chipper takes longer to break up the wood but the chips are more uniform.
Wood Chip Mulch
If you use either kind of shredder you end up with mulch for your garden. You will have either leaf mulch or wood chips. You can spread these in a garden or flower beds to keep moisture in the soil. Chips can also keep weed seeds from germinating. They can also shade the soil keeping the plants cooler.
Leaf mulch can be added to the compost pile so they can break down further and be used to enrich the soil. Leaf mulch may be safer than mulch from other plants like grass that could be mulched because they have not usually been sprayed with pesticides or other chemicals. They also do not have as much grass or weed seeds that could grown in the mulched flower beds. Spread this mulch evenly around plants to a depth of 2 to 4 inches. Keep it away from the base of the plants by a few inches to inhibit insects or mold from getting on the plants.