Yard Force Electric Leaf Shredder (YF8000): Product Review
Turns yard garbage (leaves) into garden treasure (organic fertilizer).
Available on Amazon
When I first saw the Yard Force Electric Leaf Shredder I wondered if it could really chop up all of the leaves on my property into just a few piles of organic mulch. So I put it to the test.
By my estimate, the trees in my yard produce 6.2 quadrillion leaves each season. Okay, maybe that’s more of an exaggeration than an actual educated guess. In either case, I’ve spent many more hours cleaning up fallen leaves than I ever do preparing for spring planting.
Each fall, I have to decide what to do with all of the leaves that drop in the landscaped parts of my yard. Since I have woods, some seasons I drag them deep into the forest out of sight. Not only does that “solution” create a potential fire hazard, it takes hours to drag full tarps of leaves. If I can keep up with the leaves as they drop, I like to mulch the leaves in place with my riding mower. Unfortunately, the rate at which leaves fall often means that the mulch my mower creates completely blankets and kills the grass below. Burning stinks and bothers my wife’s sinuses. Bagging leaves by hand and hauling them to the dump is time-consuming and expensive.
Could the Yard Force Electric Leaf Shredder offer a better solution? Let’s find out!
|Package Dimensions:||22 x 21.5 x 12.5 inches|
|Height:||Adjustable, telescoping legs (1’-3’)|
|Starting system:||Push button start/stop|
|Power:||120V AC (electrical cord required) electric 13 Amp|
|Extras:||Leaf collectors; replacement lines; safety glasses|
|Warranty:||2-year limited warranty against manufacturer defects|
Initially, the small package gave me the impression that the Yard Force leaf shredder was not a serious tool. Thankfully, I was to find that powerful things often hide in small packages.
As a 7-year-old child, the only thing I wanted for Christmas was a bearded G.I. Joe action figure that came equipped with hand-held weapons and tools. Even though I got the action figure, my joy proved short-lived. Somehow in the holiday melee of cleaning up boxes and wrapping papers, the kit of weapons went missing. My dear father went through the trash twice, but alas, my G.I. Joe-loving heart broke that day and has not yet fully recovered. Perhaps fueled by such a scarring tragedy at such a young age, I now check, double-check, and triple-check package contents VERY carefully before sorting and discarding any waste.
Fortunately, the Yard Force Electric Leaf Shredder came with everything it promised, including the motor housing, funnel, funnel cover, 3 adjustable legs, a removable air filter, replacement lines, safety glasses, and two leaf collectors.
Flipping through the operating manual for pictorial help, I found a simple graphic explaining how to insert the legs into the molded plastic motor housing.
Once the button pops out of the opening, you know that it’s secure. To remove the leg, depress the black button and slide the leg out. It’s just that simple.
The telescoping legs reach a height as low as 1’ and as high as 3’ approximately.
The adjustable height can accommodate users of a broad stature range. Additionally, I found it helpful when shredding leaves in an elevated bed so I didn’t have to overextend my reach.
Next, I attached the funnel to the motor housing. Obviously, the funnel is tapered at the bottom, so you’ll have no problem identifying the “skinny” end that sits atop the motor housing. The bottom of the funnel was warped into a somewhat oblong shape, but with a little manipulation, it fit fine.
Once the funnel is clamped into place, place the funnel cover over the top of the funnel. The funnel itself has 8 hard, plastic clips around the sides. Once you’ve placed the cover over the funnel, push it down until all 8 clips engage to secure the cover to the top of the funnel.
The soft, plastic middle material on the funnel cover serves to feed leaves downwards and prevent shredded items from popping out of the funnel.
Once assembled, I placed the unit inside my raised garden bed to start the test.
AND WE’RE OFF!
I am in the process of upgrading my garden tools to the more convenient and “greener” power source of rechargeable lithium-ion batteries. But fortunately, I still have a vast collection of heavy-duty outdoor extension cords such as the ones required to use the Yard Force Electric Leaf Shredder.
For added stability, I wound the extension cord around the unit, loosely tying it around itself before plugging it in the cord on the unit.
To operate the unit, there’s a simple ON/OFF button in easy-to-see GREEN and RED color.
FULL DISCLOSURE AND SAFETY
I can try to say that I don’t read manuals as a benefit to the readers, who might not read manuals, either. I mean, if a manufacturer can’t make an intuitive, idiot-proof tool without using words, who needs them! For the most part, it’s easy to assemble tools without needing to memorize a manual, but it’s always a good idea to look through the safety warning BEFORE using any tool.
Anyway, HAD I READ THE MANUAL, I would have worn the provided safety glasses, long pants, and a breathing mask, because debris shoots out the unit propelled by a nylon line spinning at 8000 RPMs! The shredded leaves don’t come out without making quite a mess and dust. After shredding just one funnel full of leaves, I went to the manual…and then grabbed safety glasses, pants, and a mask.
This should go without saying, but keep anything you value (fingers, hands, etc.) away from the spinning line. While I don’t consider myself overly-cautious, the high-pitched whine of the spinning line convinced me that I didn’t want to find out what would happen should a part of my body breach the funnel cover. In a moment, I’ll tell you how to keep yourself safe while using the machine.
USING THE YARD FORCE LEAF SHREDDER
To test the unit, I piled 18 wheelbarrows of leaves next to my raised garden bed. Using the included leaf collectors, loading the shredder is a nice little safety feature: the tips of the collectors are too big to allow your hands or the collector tips to reach the spinning line, keeping you safe. The collectors come with a thin plastic hand strap, but don’t expect that strap to last long. The first strap broke within 20 loads; the second one broke within 40.
I tried loading the shredder without the leaf collectors, but I realized immediately that I couldn’t judge how far to push the leaves into the spinning line. So I improvised a strap using a piece of rope which worked really well.
I should mention that you shouldn’t cram or force the leaves into the motor housing. This can overload and overheat the motor by jamming up the spinning line. Rather, using the leaf collectors, guide the leaves towards the bottom of the funnel into the feeder.
Three Shredding Settings
On the side of the unit is a slider that allows you to adjust how finely leaves will be shredded. You can select:
- wet leaves/grass/thatch,
- dry leaves (coarse, medium, and fine) or
- pine needles.
The Operating Manual states that for best results, shred dry materials. While I didn’t cycle thatch or grass through the unit, I tried a few loads of wet leaves. As you would expect, the moisture on the leaves made the shredded leaf particles sticky, resulting in a leaf “paste” adhering to the sides of the motor housing. It’s like mowing your lawn with the grass is wet; it makes a mess of your mower and makes your lawn look awful.
Using the COARSE setting allows leaves to feed through the unit more quickly, leaving the leaves larger; conversely, using the FINE setting slows the feed of leaves, producing smaller leaf fragments. The unit worked great on pine needles.
The motor creates a high-pitched whine instead of a growl like gasoline-powered tools. I found this unit quiet enough that my wife and I could hear one another over the sound of the motor.
After using the unit for 30-40 minutes straight, I switched it off and noticed two things: one, the motor housing felt very hot, and two, the cutting lines were worn down to nubs.
Noticing the dark brown and filthy air filter, I pulled it out of its slot on the side of the unit. Then I rinsed the foam air filter with water, let it dry thoroughly for an hour on the heating vent inside the house, and then replaced it. That partially explained why the unit got hot: it wasn’t getting enough air.
Once I unplugged the unit, I took a closer look at the line by unclasping the funnel housing and lifting it straight up. That’s when I discovered what had worn down the shredding line: twigs and branches.
I had used a combination of the Corona yard rake and the Yard Force cordless blower to create my leaf pile before transporting that pile via wheelbarrow. Apparently, I didn’t make an effort to screen out big sticks (and, um, a heavy brass garden hose nozzle). The Yard Force is a leaf shredder, not a branch (or heavy brass garden hose nozzle) shredder, so user error shortened the life of the nylon lines.
Cutting Lines Are Easy To Replace
I worried that the lines would be hard to replace, but they weren’t.
Push the end of a new line (included) through the mounting slot until the line has equal amount of length on both ends. Then feed the two ends through the hole on the rotor unit and pull until they are at their full length.
In no time, I was back to the business of shredding leaves. In total, I filled 6 raised garden beds and 3 large, outdoor refuse containers of shredded leaves, using the unit for nearly 6 hours. In the process, I used 12 lines (they supplied 20). With experience, I got better at pulling out the twigs, sticks, branches, and brass nozzles that chew up the lines, so the lines lasted longer as I learned how to avoid problems.
PROS AND CONS OF THE YARD FORCE LEAF SHREDDER
Are you in the market for a leaf shredder? Here’s what I really liked about the Yard Force leaf shredder.
- It’s compact – Whenever I bring a new toy or tool home, my wife asks me, “Where are you going to put that?” Fortunately, the Yard Force keeps a small footprint, so it can be stored indoors nearly anywhere when not in use.
- It’s practical – If you have a garden, you can make your own organic mulch out of free leaves! If you don’t have a garden and plan to shred, bag, and haul off your leaves, the Yard Force allows you to do that, too. Shredding on the FINE setting reduces the volume of leaves significantly (they advertise that the unit reduces 12 bags of leaves down to 1), which can save you money on bags and waste disposal fees. And personally, I feel good that I’m not burning and polluting this year.
- It’s easy to use – It doesn’t have many moving parts (aside from a very quickly spinning nylon line!). It sets up quickly. From taking it out-of-the-box to shredding leaves took 10 minutes.
While I didn’t experience any problems with the Yard Force leaf shredder, I put a couple of items on my wish list:
- A couple of more extras – “No good deed goes unpunished,” right? Had Yard Force not included safety glasses and extra lines in the box, I would never have thought about what more they could do to make my life better/easier. But since they did include them, it’s their own fault. First, I would like to see breathing masks in the box. I didn’t use them initially, and I was blowing leaf particles out of my nose for a week! Maybe most people keep masks on hand, but I had to make a special trip to the store to buy some. Also, I used this unit for a month, which accounts for 80% of the entire North Carolina leaf season. That means I went through almost all of the replacement lines. As soon as the unit experienced a drop in performance, I checked and replaced the line. Give me enough lines to get through a couple of seasons.
- Quality? Time will tell if the motor has one or several seasons left on its lifespan. The unit functioned well, but some of the molded plastic parts were a bit on the rough side. For example, the funnel housing came in an elliptical shape, meaning it had to be man-handled into a round shape to fit in the motor housing. It’s a small matter, and certainly not one that affected the functioning of the unit. But when I think of a quality tool, I think fit as much as function.
Yard Force offers a 2-year limited warranty on the leaf shredder against manufacturing defects.
I like this leaf shredder, and I plan to keep it and use it next season. It’s priced competitively with other comparable leaf shredders on the market and gets the job done.
WHERE TO BUY
And now, over to you: what do you do with all the leaves in your yard? Let us know in the comments below!
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