I started on my own as a self-employed gardener a few years ago. I have an electric shredder that is coming to the end of its life and I am looking to replace it with a petrol model that is easy to move, will fit into a small van, is reliable and lightweight. Is there one you can recommend?

Moving up to a petrol model has advantages. For starters, you don't have to rely on the client being at home in order to connect it to a power source. There are also plenty of petrol models to choose from.

I have to admit to liking Eliet shredders because their multi-purpose shredding mechanism means they won't complain when you put wet, green material through them. They are compact, sturdy and user-friendly. The smallest is the El Primo. It is powered by a 4hp Honda engine and has six shredding blades with a 35mm capacity; but it weighs just 32kg and folds to fit into the boot of a car. The RRP is £617 ex VAT.

A little bigger is the El Maestro at £808 ex VAT. It has a 40mm capacity, 12 shredding blades and is powered by a 5.5hp Briggs & Stratton engine. Weight is 50kg and the machine is compact. Contact the Eliet distributor Pinnacle Power Equipment on 01932 788799.

There are others you should consider too, including the Viking GB370 and GB370S. These are "funnel" type units with 35mm and 45mm capacities respectively. The 370 has a straight feed chute and Multi-Cut blade set for shredding plant trimmings and branches. The 370S has an inclined feed chute and blade disc to chip branches. Funnels on each detach for transport and the total weight is less than 45kg. Power comes from a 6.5hp Briggs & Stratton engine. These machines cost £680 ex VAT. Viking is part of the Stihl group. Call 01276 20202 for product information.

The GSP5500 from Makita is another chipper/shredder of "funnel" design - the funnel folding for transport. It has a 50mm capacity and is powered by a 5.5hp engine. Its weight is 54kg. Expect to pay up to £1,400 ex VAT. Contact Makita on 01908 211678.

The Camon range, from Tracmaster, includes machines I hope to test in the future. There are four units in the range including a twin-bladed, dedicated chipper with 50mm capacity (£848 ex VAT) and a 100mm dedicated shredder (£11,850 ex VAT). Two chipper/shredders with capacities of 65mm and 90mm sit in the £1,000 to £2,000 price bracket.

The Camon C90 All-in-One Chipper-Shredder has a detachable feed chute to provide a compact unit for transport. It weighs 70kg and has one chipping blade and eight shredding hammers. The engine is a Honda 6.5hp GX200. RRP is £994 ex VAT.

At £2,094 ex VAT the Camon C150 has a 100mm chipping capacity. The mechanism comprises one blade and 36 hammers and power comes from a 13hp Honda engine. Tracmaster can be contacted on 01444 247689.

Rochford Garden Machinery (01963 828000) distributes Ardisam-branded units that use discs and flails to tackle material up to 50mm in diameter. Engine choice includes 5.5hp, 8hp and 10hp Briggs & Stratton engines. Prices start from £543 ex VAT.

A future testing session may also include the Emak BT5500 with 60mm capacity, new products from the Echo BearCat portfolio, the 65mm Masport 6.5XL from Farm & Garden Machinery and units from Globe Organic.

- Sally Drury has reported for HW and its forerunner GC&HTJ for 25 years, and has spent more than four years testing machinery for HW and What Kit? The advice in this helpline is independent.


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