Dec. 1, 2000
Mulchin' Into Spring Rental centers can profit by renting mulcher/chippers this spring.Mulcher/chippers are among the easiest, safest and most frequently

Mulchin' Into Spring Rental centers can profit by renting mulcher/chippers this spring.

Mulcher/chippers are among the easiest, safest and most frequently rented pieces of equipment in general rental centers come springtime. Most mulcher/chippers offer several functions, and the durability and simplicity of these machines make them attractive to contractors and homeowners.

Most mulcher/chippers found on the market today incorporate a traditional brush chipper/shredder with its own feed-in chute designated for shredding limbs. In addition, a top chute designed for mulching general garden materials is typically standard on higher-quality mulchers.

Many mulching units are towable behind most vehicles and small enough to get through small backyard passages. The majority are easy to start, and most use gas engines that work without clutches. They offer numerous safety features such as locking hopper hoods and extended chute designs - all designed to help even amateur green thumbs be comfortable enough to rent these machines for weekend home-improvement projects.

Marketing mulcher/chippers As with any new piece of equipment introduced into a rental store, a mulcher/chipper's success and profitability depend largely on its marketing to target customers. The good news is that mulcher/chipper units have broad appeal to commercial users and the homeowner market.

Marketing these machines is simple. One effective strategy is to display the unit along with all of the materials that can be chipped, mulched and recycled. Higher-quality mulchers process garden materials, tree limbs, shrubs, aluminum cans, plastic bottles, cardboard, newspaper, telephone books, PVC tubing, asphalt shingles, drywall, catalogs and plastic sheeting. This display will generate lots of attention and "kick-start" rentals and often sales.

In addition, direct mail to existing customers and other targeted commercial markets yields lucrative results for most rental stores. The critical element is to ensure that the mulcher/chipper purchased for your store is a quality unit that serve all of your intended customers and back up its marketing campaign with outstanding performance.

To expand the customer appeal of the mulcher/chipper, add attachments and options to meet your customers' needs. Attachments and options available include vacuuming attachments, bagging attachments and various screen sizes to control mulch size and the discharge chute.

Maintenance matters Most mulcher/chippers are extremely simple to maintain and service. Maintenance staff should keep close tabs on chipping knives, mulching flails, bed knife adjustment and belts. These key components not only ensure top performance for your customers but also reduce fatigue on the engine, bearings and other components. All of these components are easily accessed on quality machines, and installation is relatively straightforward and simple.

The Bottom Line When a store decides to buy a mulcher/chipper, it should develop criteria that ensure the best mulcher for the market. Here are a number of things to consider when buying:

- Durability of the machine and ability to withstand the rigors of rental.

- Flexibility; will the machine serve a large segment of customers?

- Ease of maintenance and serviceability.

- Safety features.

- Will the rental store be able to generate a sizable return on its sale of the machine?

A number of mulcher/chippers are on the market; it is to the rental store's advantage to seek out the best combination of quality and profitability. Keeping all of this in mind will help guide any rental store in its quest to capture this profitable segment of the rental market.


The Model 65 compact chipper is often used by lawn care and landscape contractors, homeowners and municipal departments, according to Bandit Industries. The unit features a 12-inch-wide opening, gas and diesel engine options ranging from 20 horsepower to 35 horsepower, and a weight of approximately 2,000 pounds.

Merry Tiller/MacKissic

The Rolleez blowers from Merry Tiller/Mackissic feature a pneumatic front wheel that locks straight or swivels for ease of rolling. The Rolleez line features two models equipped with Intek I/C OHV engines with a horsepower of 6.5 or 10. 800/348-1117

Yard Marvel

Yard Marvel's tiller line, which includes the 5-horsepower Renter Tiller (pictured) and the Mini Tiller, is manufactured with a rugged steel-tine design that allows the units to dig effectively in difficult soil types, according to the manufacturer. The tillers also feature a patented adjustable rear hitch for comfortable handlebar position. The units can accommodate several interchangeable attachments.


BlueBird International designed the V190Z commercial vacuum for midmount, zero-turn-radius mowers. The unit features a 90-gallon container made of welded steel, a 7-inch inlet with deflector, a 50-degree dump angle to facilitate dumping of debris and a slam latch to close the container after emptying.

Elite Trenchers

The model DD8 push-forward, disc blade trencher digs 8 inches deep and 2 or 3 nches wide. The unit is ideal for sprinkler system installations, flower bed edging and root cutting, according to Elite Trenchers. Motor options include a 5.5-horsepower Honda OHV or a 5-horsepower Briggs & Stratton.


The Harley power box rake for front-deck mowers removes unwanted debris with minimal turf damage. The belt-driven rotating roller grades and levels the soil for seedbed preparation. The unit is ideal for renovation, overseeding, dethatching existing turf and removing old turf for reseeding, according to Glenmac.


The new hydrostatic-drive rear-tine tiller from Maxim Manufacturing allows operators to adjust tilling speed and depth. The hydrostatic drive provides different speeds to accommodate -specific applications and soil conditions. The unit also features heat-treated and bolted bolo tines, all-steel construction, repairable chain-drive transmission and the choice of a Briggs & Stratton, Honda or Robin engine. 800/621-2789

Little Beaver

The Kwik-Trench is ideal for installing lines, landscape edging and other residential applications, Little Beaver says. The unit digs trenches 10 or 12 inches deep at a rate of approximately 20 to 30 feet per minute. All rotating parts are shielded for safety.


Powered by a 4-horsepower Honda engine, the E-104H curbing edger features adjustable wheels that allow it to edge along curbs as high as 10 inches from the street. The unit is ideal for municipal agencies, parks, schools and homeowners, according to Brown Manufacturing. 334/795-6603

New Holland

New Holland has added tillers to its line of skid-steer attachments. Manufactured by Alitec, the tillers can break up clumps, prepare seedbeds, mix compost into existing soil and till home sites before landscaping. Bidirectional tine rotation allows for effective operation with the skid steer moving forward or backward, and offset mounting permits tilling close to curbs and buildings. The units feature a working depth of 6 inches and are available in 52-, 73- and 84-inch cutting widths.


Powered by a 40-horsepower Yanmar diesel engine, the John Deere 990 compact utility tractor features a collar shift transmission to allow for nine forward and three reverse speeds. The unit comes standard with two-wheel drive, dual hydraulic pumps, wet disk brakes, a two-stage dry clutch, power steering and planetary fuel drives. Four-wheel drive and dual selective control valves are optional. The unit's rear hitch arms can accept a variety of Deere attachments including mowers, loaders, tillers, blades and planters.


The Model TA-17D "split-drive" aerator features two easy-to-use controls on the main handle to facilitate operation and maneuverability, Classen says. The tines propel the machine and allow deep penetration in all soils. The unit features a removable weight bar, a front poly drum and a protective chain guard and is powered by a 4-horsepower OHV Honda engine.

E-Z Trench

The EZ8000 trencher/bedder can be used for standard trenching, burying line while trenching and defining curved landscape beds, according to E-Z Trench. The unit features a 6.5-horsepower Honda or a 6-horsepower Briggs & Stratton Vanguard engine, dual-belt drive, caster wheel steering, replaceable carbide bits, cable-burying kit, a bed-edging blade and trenching blades. It trenches to adjustable depths from 1 inch to 8 inches with widths of three-fourths of an inch to 2 inches.


Barreto trenchers feature the SnapLoc hydraulic four-wheel drive system for cross trenching or working over trench mounds. The hydraulic headshaft drive system eliminates the need for gears, chains and belts. The units trench to depths of 24, 30 and 36 inches with widths of 4 and 6 inches.

Little Wonder

The Little Wonder Xtra walk-behind edger combines the maneuverability of a stick edger and the power of a wheeled edger, the company says. The unit features a cross-blade system, an enclosed blade guard and debris deflector, a six-position height adjustment for precise cutting depth, a 6-inch wheel to guide the unit and carry the weight, a two-cycle gas engine, and padded handle grips and shock mounts. The edger weighs 16 pounds.


The RG20 HD is a self-propelled stump cutter that features the same basic design of Rayco's Mini Work-Force line with the addition of a variable-speed, hydraulic differential. This feature allows the unit to drive over hills and up ramps for easy loading and unloading, the company says. The unit is equipped with an electric clutch for safe engagement of the cutting wheel.


The Dosko 1400 brush chipper offers diesel engine options of a 110-horsepower Cummins or an 83-horsepower Deutz. The unit features a bottom-feed roller as well as a top-feed roll box and assembly to facilitate inspection of the chipping knives and bed knife. Top opening hoods are designed to provide easy access to the chipping chamber and belt/clutch area, and a ratchet-style system applies extra downforce on brush and limbs entering the unit. The Dosko 1400 can chip brush up to 14 inches wide.


The Stihl FC 85 edger is equipped with Quad Power cylinder technology for increased fuel efficiency, a solid shaft drive to maximize the transfer of power from the engine to the cutting blade and an open-guard assembly to minimize clogging. The 1.27-horsepower unit is powered by the company's 4137 Professional Series engine and utilizes a three-shoe clutch with 360 degrees of contact on the clutch drum, delivering increased torque to the cutting head, the company says.