Ground tree stump--compost or mulch?

kathy9norcalFebruary 21, 2014

We just had the stump of a recently cut-down Bradford Pear tree ground out. It is mixed with potting soil from a nearby bed. I could use it as mulch or could add it to one of our composters. I would prefer it as mulch due to the drought. How much nitrogen would I need to add to the soil underneath if I use it as mulch?
I would like to mulch a railroad tie flower bed. I am going to take out the plants and amend the soil in the bed and replant. I can add the nitrogen when I do this. Mostly daylilies and roses.

Or would it be really better to put in in my compost bins?

Thanks ahead of time for any advice or warnings.

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Wood mulch that sits on top of the soil has very little negative nitrogen tie up. The problen comes when you till wood products into the soil, not when they are used as mulch.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2014 at 7:09PM
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This material IMO would best be piled in a corner & gradually added to compost batches. When the shavings are gone there will be left a rich, worm-filled spot in which to plant a nice perennial or start a bed.
If compost & other light organic matl. (crushed leaves, leaf mold, worm castings etc.) are added on a frequent basis I dont think the nitrogen issue will be a problem in a well amended raised bed. If this problem is noticed consider regular fish emulsion applications (NPK 5-1-1). Frequent (monthly in my case) organic matl. input IMO makes this a non-issue. Never stop composting! :)
Hope that helps.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2014 at 7:36PM
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"How much nitrogen would I need to add to the soil underneath if I use it as mulch? "

None ... wood sitting on top of the spoil is not going to suck up much nitrogen. The moisture savings from a thick layer of wood chips that take a long time to decompose is amazing.

I've used 4-6 inches of wood chips as mulch for shrubs and vegetable beds and it's great.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2014 at 9:49PM
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Well, mulch it is! And it comes at a good time, too. Thanks for the advice. Paleo, your idea is good too, I really like it. But--I have a California style yard, not very big. There is not more than a square foot or two left to plant in, certainly not an empty corner. I have been hopeless addicted to roses and dayliies for too long . . . .

    Bookmark   February 22, 2014 at 12:47AM
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The choice would be to use the material on top as mulch, or to use it as a compost ingredient. Most or all the stump wood material I've seen is in big pieces, so I would not use it as a compost ingredient.

Some might choose to use it as pathway material, not too close to any wood structures.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2014 at 4:24PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

I agree with using grindings as a top dressing. If it is very fine textured, like saw dust, I'd be tempted to compost or age it first.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2014 at 5:54PM
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