Wood chips mixed with dirt

Maynard1980March 28, 2014

I recently had a large cherry tree removed from my front yard. They ground much of it down and I was left with a pile of wood chips mixed with dirt, which the guy from the tree service said makes a great planting medium. I spread the pile out over the spot where I want to plant my flower bed, and will probably plant in a couple weeks. It's not quite mulch, as it's mixed in with soil, but it's not exactly sawdust either. Has anyone ever used something like this? Can I plant right away, or should I let it decompose a bit?

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I did a similar thing last year with some chips from the chain saw effect, before reading that generally, you don't want wood chips in with your soil. But I think it also depends on the quantity that you are adding. In my case, I did not have that much that I added to the flower bed. However, this year, the soil seems really good, and while digging down a few inches to plant new annuals, I did not see any evidence of the wood chips but did see ample worms and dark, loose soil.

Not sure how much related that could be to the wood chips, or how much different the plants last year could have grown, but in my case, it did not have a horribly bad negative effect and this year, the soil seems fine. I'll have to see how this year's plants turn out in that particular area, in case the long-term effect is still to come.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2014 at 5:52PM
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If you are planting annuals, edibles or perennials, you may want to add a nitrogen source, like alfalfa meal. Wood chips/sawdust incorporated into the soil creates a temporary nitrogen deficiency that smaller, more shallow rooted plants find very challenging. Not so much an issue for trees or shrubs - unless a large amount of wood material - but easily counteracted with supplemented nitrogen.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2014 at 6:04PM
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The link below was posted by a member of this forum and shows the benefit of adding wood chips to soil. As gardengal mentions adding extra nitrogen is necessary initially.

Here is a link that might be useful: pics of wood chips added to soil

    Bookmark   March 28, 2014 at 6:31PM
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So glad to hear this. We had a stump ground a month ago and I have so much soil-wood chips just waiting to be put to use. After hearing how bad it was to mix right into the soil, this is really good news. It seems there are always at least two sides to every story.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2014 at 7:50PM
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We did this after cutting down two trees and it worked out very well. The "soil" tends to dry out quicker than soil without wood chips so you may need to water the flower bed more often.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2014 at 7:58PM
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    Bookmark   March 29, 2014 at 3:31AM
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What happens when wood chips, a high carbon material, are mixed into soil depends on what kind of shape that soil is in, so it is difficult to make a general statement that it is bad or not so bad. GardenGal has it right on the money however.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2014 at 6:27AM
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Hi, we have super high fertility in our garden from years of only adding compost and barn cleanings (sheep poop and fine bits of hay) as mulch. I bought a load of composted wood chips, called "Soil pep" in Montana. My thought was to mix it in the soil a bit and try to balance out the fertility. I didn't think there would be a nitrogen deficiency as all the n-p-k are very high. What do you guys think?

    Bookmark   April 6, 2014 at 7:50PM
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You mention it as being "composted" already, so that is probably why it is sold and used as soil amendment. It's just like saying "manure compost" or "mushroom compost" -- naming what it started from and what you might expect to find in it. In your case, you have "wood chip compost"

    Bookmark   April 7, 2014 at 11:20AM
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