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Fresh Wood Chip Mulch

Posted by stevemy 7TN (My Page) on
Wed, Jan 21, 09 at 21:10

So after having over 200 cubic yards of mulch delivered in the last 12 months, I decided to dedicate a week of writing to the subject. I also just added a video clip on fresh wood chips as mulch.
Hopefully many of you have looked into using fresh wood chips for your gardens. If you haven't started yet here's a little reading to get you on the right track.

Also, I'd like to hear from others that have been using fresh wood chips what your experience using them has been?

Here is a link that might be useful: Video Clip


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Fresh Wood Chip Mulch

I thought fresh wood chips are a no no since it robs the soil from Nitrogen.


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RE: Fresh Wood Chip Mulch

robs the soil from Nitrogen if tilled into the soil or placed up close to the base of the plants. If used as a top mulch and kept away from the base of the plants it has little detrimental effect.

But that said, personally I have never found any use for fresh wood mulch in the garden. Aged/composted? sure, around perennial flower beds, paths, etc. as it is decorative. But IMO it does little for the soil and does it very slowly.

But never in the vegetable garden or even around annuals where you'll be succession planting. There are much better soil beneficial/improving mulches available for the areas that will get lots of activity in them. Cheaper ones too. ;)

JMO

Dave


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RE: Fresh Wood Chip Mulch

Dave, I'd be curious to hear what other mulching materials you've found that are cheaper then fresh wood chips, which I get for free, lol.

The theory that nitrogen is taken from the soil by fresh wood chips in not valid and there are great research papers done on the subject which I placed on my blog. At the soil surface is the only place where any nitrogen is tied up but latter released back into the soil.


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RE: Fresh Wood Chip Mulch

Let me start by saying that I thought that the video was very well done, and that it will get positive feedback because it was well done, and because lots of people are fans of wood chips as a mulch.

Except me; I'm not a fan of wood chip mulches---especially fresh.

I think a garden holds its own with a fresh wood chip mulch, but I don't think it thrives the way a compost-mulched or seaweed-mulched or leaf-mulched garden does.
I don't worry about nitrogen robbing. I just don't like that adding immediately-nourishing compost or other amendments involves lifting (or replacing) the wood chips. Wood chips take so long to break down and nourish the soil, they're nothing but ornamental the first two years.
But, as far as that goes, I, me, personally, don't find them that pleasing to look at. I think that wood chip mulches often make me feel like I'm in line in my car at McDonald's.

I like to use a continually renewable and continually nourishing mulch. When I get to the shore in the spring, my leaf mulch gets replaced with seaweed. The newspaper, seaweed and straw mulch in my vegetable garden get replenished every year. It's the way I fertilize my garden. If something good shows up, it's my new mulch.

I use wood chips for paths (and strawberries), and having learned something clever from Polly, I wait until the paths have broken down and either rake the composted (now ready to return their goodness) wood chips up and put that in my garden and refill the paths with fresh chips, or I change the layout of the garden and start gardening in the crumbly, rich, composted paths.

I can afford to be snobby about wood chip mulches, though. I have access to others. I get compost for free from the local dump. I also gather large quantities of leaves in the fall, which are my favorite topmost mulch, concealing my newspaper and seaweed. Oh, and I have a truck, and a strong back.


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RE: Fresh Wood Chip Mulch

Free wood chips aren't commonly available but it's great you have a source because the important point is to mulch.

Hay I get free because I grow my own. Straw is free in some parts of the country. Compost is free if you make your own. Grass clippings are free if you have a lawn to mow.

Lots of organic, more nutritional, faster decomposing, more convenient in high activity areas, better weed suppression, and free or cheap mulches are out there.

Dave


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RE: forgot leaves

Excellent points, Annpat! I forgot to mention the leaves. Nature's prefect source of free mulch assuming you have trees or any access to them. ;)

Dave


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RE: Fresh Wood Chip Mulch

Free wood chips aren't commonly available

Have you looked? Asplundh is perhaps the largest tree service company in the world and is active here in the US in all 50 states (also in Canada and New Zealand). They hold the majority of the tree service contracts for powerline, right-of-way and municipal tree pruning across the country and are one of the first companies called in to clean up after natural disasters like hurricanes and ice storms. They generate HUGE amounts of wood chips that must be disposed of rapidly and I have never had them charge for a load. They just drop off when they are in the area and in my area they are always around working on some project. Might not be as common in very rural areas, though.

And just an aside, while I seriously disagree with their pruning techniques - if you can call them that - I do appreciate their making the waste product that results available at no cost to whoever wants it.


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RE: Fresh Wood Chip Mulch

Have I looked? Most definitely. And you are quite correct - in rural areas power lines get groomed once every 10 years or so. I got a free "tree butchering" and 3 loads from Asplundh when they were last here - 6 years ago. ;)

Dave


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RE: Fresh Wood Chip Mulch

Wow. I'm sick to hear that. I had them on my road for three weeks during Dec. Three days of that, they were within 50 feet of my driveway.


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RE: Fresh Wood Chip Mulch

A lot of utility companies are now hoarding the wood chips their trimming crews produce to burn in generating plants and as such, they are getting harder to come by. Not sure if Asplundh no longer dumps them by a convenient garden if they're trimmming for one of these utilities, but I haven't been able to get any from them for a few years.

I do have a steady source of wood shavings from where I work so I'm happy.

Annpat says "I like to use a continually renewable and continually nourishing mulch." Wood chips are such a mulch though slower growing and slower to add nutrients to soil. But as a mulch, they are far longer lasting then their more ephemeral cousins.

Wayne


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RE: Fresh Wood Chip Mulch

Not counting Asplund or Trees, USA we have 6 tree trimming companies locally and of those 3 do chip the wood they cut and will drop it off at your house if it is near where they are working. The fresh wood chips I plunked down around some shrubs that were not growing very well (a not really good soil) aided in both supplying those shrubs with sufficient moisture and evidently some Nitrogen since within a week of plunking those fresh wood chips around them they started greening up and growing and grew faster then others that did not get those fresh wood chips that year.


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RE: Fresh Wood Chip Mulch

I regularly use fresh wood chips as mulch in the vegetable garden as well as landscape beds. Conventional wisdom states that this will cause nitrogen depression in soils. In my experience this does not happen if they are spread on the surface. There is little interaction at the surface between soil organisms and the mulch as opposed to incorporating the fresh mulch into the soil. There is also Canadian research on ramial wood chip use, that is the use of fresh wood chips from branches less than three inches in diameter, which shows a beneficial effect regarding the establishment of mycorrhizal fungi. These fungi are symbiotic and help the plant to utilize minerals from the soil. They are also reputed to help compete with and minimize damage from unwanted, harmful soil fungi. I get chips regularly from private companies seeking low-cost disposal alternatives to landfill tipping fees.

I also use tree leaves for mulch and have done so for years. In my area the local municipality collects leaves curbside in the fall and will deliver them by the truckload to me at no cost to avoid paying tipping fees at the regional landfill. This is a win-win situation as the municipality saves the landfill fees and I receive many tons of free organic matter. Again, I see no nitrogen depression from using these materials for much. I till them into the top couple of inches of garden soil at the end of the growing season and then plant a cover crop for the winter.

At my home the red clay has been transformed into a dark, well conditioned soil through the surface use and incorporation of free organic materials over the years.

Many of the trees in my area are oaks and, once again, conventional wisdom tells us that an acidity problem will ensue from their use but that has not been my experience.


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RE: Fresh Wood Chip Mulch

The "conventional wisdom" - actually, common gardening myths - of both the wood chip mulch resulting in nitrogen depletion or that acidic plant products (pine straw, oak leaves, pine or other conifer barks) alter soil pH have been proven to have no basis in reality. Unfortunately, one still encounters a lot of this and similar misinformation available online or through what should be more informed sources, like extension publications.


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RE: Fresh Wood Chip Mulch

I have used fresh and aged wood chips as mulch for trees, shrubs and perrenials, for paths, to fill gullies, etc. without trouble. I don't do food gardening so I can't comment from experience on wood mulch in that context. I have some piles that are old and drawn from as needed and one big pile that gets replenished now and then but the bottom tends to be the older stuff. The bottom of my old wood chip piles looks kind of like soil or compost now -- worms, fungi, etc. have broken them down. Depending on the load, some of my wood chip piles began with a lot of green wood and green leaves and not just big chunks of heartwood. Plants often volunteer in my old wood chip piles and often even in the newer ones as well.


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RE: Fresh Wood Chip Mulch

I used wood chips i get delivered free to improve the sandy soil I have.I used a double dig method of filling chips in the ditch and covering with soil. This gave organic material which increased soil water retention and in our 112 degree days in Aug. this area out grew the areas i had not used it in.I use wood chips and love what they have done for my soil. I plow them into my soil.


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RE: Fresh Wood Chip Mulch

tulsacity,

Did you also incorporate nitrogen at the same time?

I used sawdust (as an amendment, not a mulch) in a garden years ago and my garden reacted the way conventional wisdom said it would. My plants were stunted and yellow. When I added blood meal, the plants greened up, but were never what they should have been.
Do we still believe that wood products tilled into the soil will (probably) require amending the soil with nitrogen? (I understand how wood products react as a mulch, i.e. when not incorporated into the soil.)


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RE: Fresh Wood Chip Mulch

The nitrogen content of sawdust is much lower that that of wood chips. Wood chips generally are from tissues closer to the growth tips. Those tissues are actively dividing and contain, therefor, more nutrients, especially nitrogen, than wood from large diameter branches or trunks. When materials are incorporated into the soil, the soil organisms respond by greatly increasing their populations. As they do, they "tie up" the available nitrogen as they synthesize proteins for their cell structures. Not only does nitrogen depression in the soils follow but as these high carbon materials are metabolized, carbon dioxide is released. If the amount of carbon dioxide becomes too high it can be toxic for the plants. Remember that plants need oxygen at the root level to move nutrients and water across the cell membrane into the plant by active transport. In the short run a massive addition of high carbon materials may present barriers to growth that cannot be overcome by additional nitrogen applications. Over time the carbon dioxide will off-gas and the soil will stabilize. Therein lies the need for composting high carbon materials before incorporation if plants are to be grown in the near term.


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RE: Fresh Wood Chip Mulch

Yes, that is why I prefer using them in my paths. Perhaps tulsacity waited a good while prior to planting.


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RE: Fresh Wood Chip Mulch

Sawdust is notorious for tying up nitrogen - a lot of it has to do with the part of the tree it is produced from and its very high C:N ratio but it is more directly related to surface area of the material. Smaller particles have greater surface area to come into contact with the soil. Wood chips also tend to have 'green' material mixed with them - leaves or needles - that are actually a nitrogen source rather than a nitrogen sink.

And it depends on what type of plants are growing in the area - woody plants like trees and shrubs are less likely to be affected by a temporary lack of nitrogen than are more leafy and more shallowly rooted plants like perennials and most vegetables.


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RE: Fresh Wood Chip Mulch

I use them for a large area at the office (env. agency) where we have a compost demonstration site that we put our coffee grounds and food waste into. They are great for killing large areas of grass, weeds, invasive honeysuckle etc. We get them delivered free by Asplundh just by calling our local power co. and getting on the list. If you are an electric customer there is a fair chance you can do the same. Call your utility and ask.

At home I use free shredded yard waste from the city which includes not only wood but leaves, grass and who knows what all. It composts down pretty well, faster than wood chips, so it feeds the soil quite a bit faster.


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RE: Fresh Wood Chip Mulch

If you read carefully I buried them under my soil!!This made my hole garden a bit higher than the surrounding ground.I had already added thing like bone meal, cotton meal,alfalfa meal, potash to the soil.My plants were in the soil!The wood chips held moisture I needed in my sandy soil.It could rain 1" and I could till the next day, before I started adding organic material to my soil.I got the ideal after digging into a large pile and finding it still was damp.


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RE: Fresh Wood Chip Mulch

I did read carefully. The reason you had success burying your woodchips was because you incorporated nitrogen---bone meal, cotton meal, and alfalfa meal into the soil with them.


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RE: Fresh Wood Chip Mulch

I was not trying to be ugly, I took your post, that mine were on top and you thought, I waited for them to break down to plant in after they had composted down.I used my to hold moisture in my very sandy soil.
I'm sorry I never wanted to make anyone made, just wanted to share and thought you missed my point .


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RE: Fresh Wood Chip Mulch

tulsa! I knew that. I understand what you thought I was thinking.

I have terrible sand in one of the places I garden and it seems that no matter what I add, it reverts to sand two years later. I really have to keep on top of it.

You certainly didn't make me mad. I was curious about your results.

annpat, the daughter of a poncacityfarmer
withcousinsintulsa


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RE: Fresh Wood Chip Mulch

Newbie here. Does anyone who has participated in this thread know of a good thread about using wood chip mulch to cover a small yard? I have about 100 sq ft of back yard that only grows weeds and small patches of thin grass. I don't want to grow a lawn, I would just like to cover that area with a couple inches of nice looking brown mulch. In the middle of the yard is my 4' x 4' raised-bed SFG and I'd just be surrounding that.

Wondering if there's any reason not to do this, or if a specific type of chips would be best, if I need to put down newspaper or cardboard first, how much mulch I'd need, how thick to put it down, etc. If anyone can answer these or direct me to a thread that has done so, I'd really appreciate it.

Thanks in advance,
Dan


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RE: Fresh Wood Chip Mulch

I have used fresh wood chip mulch for ever. I am real good about seeing a truck going down the road and writting down their number on the side of the truck and call it to see if they will drop the mulch. This year I seen where some trucks park every night, or when they are not working right next to where I bank. There was a number painted on the side of the box truck, they have dropped 4 or 5 trucks this year, and would drop more if I wanted it. Which yes come fall I will take it. No issues with my plants, everything is growing good. But I do love to use compost tea. I also compost and when I plant my gardens I use some compost in the holes. But I never do see an issue with plants needing more food. I do both flower and veggie. I also use it in my potted plants, all do great.

Dan I would put down a nice thick layer of cardboard if you don't plan on anything growing there. I would use at least 2 layers, one would be ok, two would be better. Next year you just might need one layer, but to kill everything off I would use 2.
Sandy


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RE: Fresh Wood Chip Mulch

"Also, I'd like to hear from others that have been using fresh wood chips what your experience using them has been?"

I spread the output of my chipper/shredder right onto the garden beds as a mulch. It's a mix of leaves, twigs and small branches. I like it because it lasts a couple of years, blocks mud, and it's free. It eventually vanishes - haven't figured out where it goes.

To fertilize, I sprinkle the fertilizer on the mulch and water it in. To plant, I pull back the mulch, dig small hole, stick plant in. No digging, not much work.


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RE: Fresh Wood Chip Mulch

Dangords, I covered a whole side yard with wood chips. The yard wouldn't grow grass and was eroding badly. The yard is much more useable and more aesthetically pleasing now that it is covered in woodchips. I used those wood chips in about a two week period directly after the chipping. A thin layer of newspaper or cardboard prior to putting down the wood chips will act as a weed barrier and should not suffocate tree roots, etc. A mixture of different types of wood is great but take whatever is free. It's best to have a load that is not full of seed from the tree unless you want a lot of volunteer saplings. It's also wise to pull out any noxious stuff (like english ivy) from your wood chip load if it's in there. Keep the mulch a few inches away from tree trunks and shrub stems, etc. If your raised bed is made of wood you might also want to keep the wood chips from actually touching the wood sides so they stay more dry and don't rot as fast.


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RE: Fresh Wood Chip Mulch

What a great thread!

I'm new at all this. After reading a lot, I'm using free fresh wood chips to mulch my raised bed paths, and I was thinking of smothering my lawn with cardboard and fresh wood chips in prep for a permaculture food forest. Apparently I have bermuda grass. I was wondering if it would work, or if I would regret it?

I'm collecting cardboard from the neighborhood hardware store -they seem to be pleasantly amused by me- and from any store I go to that has boxes broken down. My favorite tree service also seems to be amused by me and happy to deliver wood chips for free. I've been reading about the horrors of bermuda grass. It all seems a little dramatic; I'm trying to keep my gardening endeavors a low stress activity. I've been advised that I'll have to kill the bermuda grass with round-up.

I don't want to do that.

I'm thinking I'll try to smother it with the cardboard and woodchips. I'm hoping that this will help with the clay soil and the fact the pasture was used for llama and is probably compacted. I'm wondering if I should till first? Or just layer with cardboard and wood chips? How long do you all think it will take for it to become a quality soil? Do you think it will work?

Here's the area I'm thinking of covering with woodchips/cardboard:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/these5acres/3753859800/

Thanks to everyone for sharing!

Kelly

Here is a link that might be useful: Link to kellywinstonsalem's photostream on flickr


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RE: Fresh Wood Chip Mulch

OK, so the three service just dumped a ton of fresh mulch in my garden. I was planning on using it for the paths around my beds. I have so much I don't know what to do with it. The tree company mentioned the nitrogen thing. I am considering using it around my shrubs and trees, but am afraid of doing damage. What else can I do with the mulch? Burn it?


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RE: Fresh Wood Chip Mulch

Wood chip mulch is perfectly fine to use around any type of woody plants like trees or shrubs. Any nitrogen tie-up that might occur is limited to the soil surface and has virtually no negative impact on plants with deeper root systems like trees and shrubs. You could notice some effect on more shallowly rooted annuals or perennials, but even that is easily compensated for by the application of a higher nitrogen type of fertilizer - urea, alfalfa meal, blood meal, cottonseed meal, etc.

I'm rather surprised the tree trimming company bothered to even make a point of the nitrogen issue - this is a very well documented issue and unless you are incorporating the wood chips into the soil - rather than applying as a mulch - there is minimal concern about any nutrient deficiency assocciated with using wood chips.

IF you have more than you can use, can you store them for future use? Share with your neighbors?

Here is a link that might be useful: The Myth of Wood Chip Mulch


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RE: Fresh Wood Chip Mulch

PNewgardener - Use it as a mulch!

The stuff is great because it decomposes slowly. The so-called "nitrogen robbing" is minimal compared to the benefits of smothering weeds and saving soil moisture.


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RE: Fresh Wood Chip Mulch

There are so many myths floating around out there about using wood chips as mulch that if one paid them any attention you would never use any. Wood chips used as mulch, and mulch is sonething laid on top of soil, will not cause any nitrogen loss in that soil.
I have had tree trimmers tell me I did not want these wood chips because 1) they are fresh and, 2) they are too old and, 3) they have leaves mixed in and, 4) there are no leaves mixed in and, they will cause nitrogen depeletion. They did not, will not and in fact I have noticed better growth in plants where wood chip mulches have been used then where no wood chip mulches were used.


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RE: Fresh Wood Chip Mulch

Yes, that's true. But in my experience, the worst growth in my completely mulched yard is where I've mulched with wood chips. If you want to see plants take off, mulch with leaves or hay or seaweed or straw or newspaper. Wood mulch takes many years before it nourishes the soil. I like my mulches to do double duty---and not wait years for it.


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Oh and...

The OP posted that he had "200 yards of mulch" delivered. Because there's so much confusion about mulch, I'd like to be a little nit-picky. The OP did not have "200 yards of mulch" delivered. What he had was 200 yards of wood chips delivered, which he planned on using as a mulch.


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RE: Fresh Wood Chip Mulch

  • Posted by pt03 2b Southern Manitob (My Page) on
    Fri, Mar 11, 11 at 8:50

I used relatively freshly shredded christmas tree as a mulch on two rows (175 seedlings per row) of saskatoon seedlings. Mortality rates were about 75% on those rows. Rows without the mulch had a 10% mortality rate which is normal. I do not know the reason why.

Lloyd


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RE: Fresh Wood Chip Mulch

  • Posted by jolj 7b/8a-S.C.,USA (My Page) on
    Fri, Mar 11, 11 at 12:42

Lloyd sorry about your seedling.
Let us know what the problem is, if you find out what happen.
annpat, the path ideal sounds good to me.
tulas, I never had the nitrogen depression in my sandy soil.
Maybe it is all the nitrogen rich compost that has built up over the past few year. I am going to bury coffee waste 24" deep & mix in the soil, then cover it with 12" of soil. Later I am going to put in asparagus crowns & cover with 12" of soil, 2" at a time as the spear grow.
gardengal48, thanks for your input & link.
coffeehaus, I have the same garden experience as you, but I have sand not clay.
Every one say I am crazy, but I am going to add clay to my soil, in ONE bed to see if it will help hold the OM.
A bio-char bed also.
I believe want I can run my finger though when it comes to garden myths.


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RE: Fresh Wood Chip Mulch

Here in Austin we have generally poor soil and I'm an avid organic gardener. I love wood mulch and what it does. It works on some geologic time scale but when I'm taking someone's front yard that used to grow bermuda grass and trying to start a vegetable garden I make ample use of free biomass in the form of wood mulch.

Usually the beds are tilled or opened with a hand trowel and ample compost is added. The paths get cardboard to smother the bermuda and then 6" plus worth of wood mulch. It holds the cardboard down, smothers the bermuda and improves the soil long term. Another benefit is that it's springy enough that it's good for my back. I love the extra cushion it gives me when I'm walking around the beds.

A note on bermuda. I've stopped weeding it much by hand. It's a horrible mess and hassle. The paths get cardboard and mulch and any that grows through somehow..just gets more cardboard and mulch. If it comes up in the garden bed I smother it with several sheets of newspaper and more compost. Smothering it is definitely the way to go, I'm trying to brow brocolli not bermuda grass.

Each season you can add more mulch to the paths and if it's broken down well enough you could always rake it onto the bed if it's well decomposed. I prefer using compost (mine has all the leaves I can get my hand on) in the beds. It improves the soil faster, smothers weeds and helps hold on to moisture.

In my yard I use the wood mulch around trees in large swaths. 6" plus deep seems fine, the mulch is free and the less grass I have to mow the better. If I have ornamental beds that I don't have time or energy to get to till next season you can cover them with mulch in the meantime. It holds water, encourages worms and when you're ready you can just rake the material back to plant whatever you care to.

I prefer slow and easy gardening as much as possible. I'll make a nickel squeal and try to hold onto biomass as much as possible. I do agree with what's been said about mulching paths but not the beds themselves. I'd prefer to use leaves, hay or compost for that.

If you have more mulch than you can use, just pile it up out of the way. Save your urine in old orange juice jugs and pour it on. The N will help break the mulch down over time and your mulch will break down in a year or so if kept moist this way.

I've helped move probably 20+ dump truck loads of mulch over time and it's worth it. It's slow but it builds biomass and adds vital organic matter to poor soils.

Have fun and good luck. Slow and steady wins the race.


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RE: Fresh Wood Chip Mulch

any mulch, wood chip or something else, applied to soil will aid in suppressing weed growth, aid in keeping soils cooler, eventually aid in adding organic matter to the soil, and aid in keeping the soil moisture level higher. In some soils the higher soil moisture levels will be very good because the plants will then have moisture to use to grow, however, in other soils that tend to hold too much moisture that can be bad since the extra moisture may well be enough to kill seedlings.
If your soil is heavy, dense clay it needs to be properly, and well, amended with organic matter before any mulch is applied. The drainage issue must be resolved first.


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RE: Fresh Wood Chip Mulch

Kim, you forgot that there's such a thing as Rubber mulch.


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RE: Fresh Wood Chip Mulch

  • Posted by jolj 7b/8a-S.C.,USA (My Page) on
    Sat, Mar 12, 11 at 15:06

Hi goudananda, Do you have sugar sand in Austin?


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RE: Fresh Wood Chip Mulch

Sugar sand? I've never heard of it.


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RE: Fresh Wood Chip Mulch

  • Posted by jolj 7b/8a-S.C.,USA (My Page) on
    Sun, Mar 13, 11 at 14:21

Good. It is my understanding that it is a fine white sand that will not hold water or Organic Matter.
The lady who told us about it has 12 horses & all the OM that most gardener only dream of. Still it is not enough to build the sand into soil that will grow plant with out a lot of care. But she is Organic & battles on.


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RE: Fresh Wood Chip Mulch

Sugar sand is a color of sand, like you find on the Michigan side of Lake Michigan. Animal manures mixed in any sand will not be enough to make that sand into good soil, you also need vegetative waste to mix with it in a 3 parts of vegetative waste to 1 part manure ratio.


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RE: Fresh Wood Chip Mulch

gouda, I'm interested to read your experiences with bermuda grass, because people often say that mulches will not work to suppress it. I've always thought that was suspect, but I wondered if people maybe had more tenacious bermuda grass than we have in Maine. I can't think of many weeds I can't suppress with a good newspaper mulch---I just can't imagine that bermuda is that difficult. Your experience sounds like mine.


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RE: Fresh Wood Chip Mulch

Seems a lot of posters are missing the two key points, large quantities of wood chips are often available for free, and often with free delivery too. Is anyone offering free delivery of large quantities of seaweed? If you need ten cubic yards of mulch how many trips would it take carrying it in a bucket up the side of a cliff to take it from the beach to the parking lot where you parked your car?
As far as leaves go, in places like southern California large quantities of leaves are usually unavailable. People have small yards and are not going to waste it growing a huge shade tree. Besides, most trees people grow around here do not drop large quantities of leaves all at once like
the deciduous trees do in colder parts of the country.


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RE: Fresh Wood Chip Mulch

I make large piles along the high tide mark, then drive my truck along the beach and toss the seaweed in, although I won't deny that I have climbed cliffs before with garbage bags of seaweed on my back. I've got a couple sweet places to get it now. A day at the beach whether sunning or gathering seaweed is still a day at the beach. I enjoy my seaweed gathering trips.


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RE: Fresh Wood Chip Mulch

Well in southern California you would probably be arrested for driving a pickup truck on most beaches, and if the beach was in a marine protected area you aren't allowed to remove anything from the beach or water, not even a rock.
On the more populated beaches they do have big sand cleaning machines that pickup kelp washed up on the beach along with all the other garbage, but I don't know what they do with it, probably send it to a landfill.


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RE: Fresh Wood Chip Mulch

californian I could not agree with you more. I had 15 cubic yards of wood chips delivered for free from a local tree service. Half went to mulch my fruit trees and vegetable garden. The other half was used to start a very large compost pile. Anything else would have been $ 27.00 per cubic yard delivered. In other words if I had purchased this much mulch from a landscape supply company it would have cost me $ 405.00.

Thank goodness for free wood chip mulch and free coffee grounds.


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RE: Fresh Wood Chip Mulch

  • Posted by eureka z8 SS11 CAHiDesert (My Page) on
    Wed, Jun 29, 11 at 4:09

Let me add my two cents worth about the cost of having mulch or amendments delivered or even attempting to buy enough from Lowe's or Home Depot. When one has a sizeable yard, FREE is an absolute necessity. I live in the Mojave Desert, I do shred what little I have. If I can capture leaves, I do. But when one has red clay soil and a lack of natural amendments, even with a compost pile, I'm looking for no cost. But we don't have lots of tree trimmers here cuz we are in the desert, also have a couple of huge commercial composting facilities in the area who are more than willing to take all contributions. They took all the sardines that died off recently. I can only get one 60 gal trash barrel of free compost a few times a year from the city as there is such a need for city plantings & parks. Pickin's are slim around here.


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RE: Fresh Wood Chip Mulch

Come to Brooklyn, I'll let you rake all the leaves you want, still working on the remaining ten 55 gallon trash bags from last fall, started off with 35 in the winter.


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RE: Fresh Wood Chip Mulch

  • Posted by eureka z8 SS11 CAHiDesert (My Page) on
    Thu, Jun 30, 11 at 2:37

MoleX, you need one of those nifty leaf & twig shredders from Harbor Freight like the guy in Oregon uses for his leaves every year. His BIG shredded leaf piles are steaming as they compost down. The guy posted a video on this site, it's pretty amazing.


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RE: Fresh Wood Chip Mulch

  • Posted by MoleX Brooklyn (My Page) on
    Thu, Jun 30, 11 at 10:27

I live on a dead end block, cut by the Q/B subway line. I start at one end of the block using my gas powered leaf blower, and blow 6 house lengths of leaves onto my lawn, then I run em over with a mulching mower, rake em up, ????, profit.

;p


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RE: Fresh Wood Chip Mulch

Guess I'm lucky, I have 4 fully mature sugar maples on my lawn which give me more leaves than I know what to do with. Last year prior to my starting a compost bin, I raked and tarp dragged to the road a pile 4 Ft high, 4 Ft wide and nearly 100' long.

This year I am finally looking foward to the leaf drops. I'll have a ton of nice mulch for next year as well as lots of good compost material. I'll keep the mulching leaves in black contractor bags in the garage or barn to keep them dry so they don't break down too much and then just pile all the rest up and use it when needed.


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RE: Fresh Wood Chip Mulch

I just scored a big truckload on chipped pine needles, pine bark, and pine wood. I was driving down the street and saw a huge pile of pine boughs ready to be fed into one of these chipper machines by a tree trimming crew. I stopped and said if they needed a place to dump the stuff after chipping it they could dump it in my driveway, but only if it was pure pine tree, I didn't want any other kind of tree included. They said they had to ask their boss, who said OK, so now I have enough for all my own needs and the rest I will either give away or sell. I like the pine needle stuff because it smells so good and makes such a fluffy mulch, nice to walk on if you put it on you garden paths, plus some say it will help acidify the alkaline soil many of us have in southern California.
So keep you eyes open for tree trimmers chipping up tree trimmings, especially if its a kind of tree you want. But beware if they have any palm tree trimmings, you don't want that. Most of them will deliver it for free if they don't have to drive too far, and can dump the whole load so they don't have to make an additional trip to the landfill or wherever they usually dump it, and sometimes have to pay to dump it.


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Annuals planted in wood chips

Talking about freebies, I had 20 cu yds of freshly cut and shredded wood chips delivered to my yard last November. Lots of leaves, mostly needles, but all mixed in.

Once arrived, part that was used to fill two 4'x4'x4' bins and the rest just sat untouched. For the first few weeks, they sure heat up, I saw steam. After the wet winter months, chips in the bins shrunk by about 25%. The big pile also looked smaller.

Last week, I used them as mulch around all the flower bed. So almost all flowerbed now have 4-8" of wood chips.

Just as an experiment, I planted a few flats of annuals, mostly impatient, directly in the woodchips. Each hole was 2-3 times the size of the plant and about 3" deep. I fill the bottom with compost then added some time released fert. Put the plant in the middle of the hole and filled the sides with compost too.

For comparison, I also planted some in soil next to the ones planted in wood chips. I wonder which ones will grow better.


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RE: Fresh Wood Chip Mulch

I use wood mulch, but what I do is mix grass clippings with it a few weeks before I use it. This causes it to partially compose very quickly reducing it's tendency to use up nitrogen in soil. I have very sandy soil, and use this same "compost" in the soil as well. I have no nitrogen issues when doing this, and it turns sandy soil over time into nice black nutrient rich and water conserving soil.


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RE: Fresh Wood Chip Mulch

I want to use wood chips that have been in the chukar (partridge) house all summer. Have some from last winter also. I have a veg garden that needs HELP. How do I determine how much nitrogen product to mix with the bags of wood chips? Any suggestion on which source of nitrogen is best? Don't know if all products of nitrogen are available in the local market. My chukars just don't make enough poop to fill a two gal bucket in a year. I know I need to get a soil analysis and have not done that since I will harvest this weekend.


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RE: Fresh Wood Chip Mulch

so what was decided? wood chips are only good on top of the soil?
can wood chips be used in lasagna style gardening? for example: newspaper, wood chips, manure, leaves, grass clippings, straw??? or would that inhibit growth?


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RE: Fresh Wood Chip Mulch

btw - in the Austin TX area, the local landfills gives away free wood chip mulch, all year. But if you have trees/limbs/brush you need to drop off, you have to pay. :)

from what i have read on this forum, free mulch from a landfill isn't that uncommon.

here are just 3 places for free mulch in the Austin area:

http://www.ci.austin.tx.us/sws/residential_fm812_center.htm

http://www.roundrocktexas.gov/docs/recycling_center_brochure_7-31-08.pdf

http://www.wilco.org/CountyDepartments/RecyclingCenter/tabid/485/language/en-US/Default.aspx


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RE: Fresh Wood Chip Mulch

"so what was decided?"

I'd say there's a consensus that chips can be mulch. That is, on top of the soil.

Lots of disagreement about incorporating; whether tilling, plowing, lasagna, etc.

Something that hasn't been mentioned ( at least to my notice) is difference in locales. Here in the northeast most people don't incorporate high C materials. Yet I have friends in the west that swear by it(wood chips).
Here we have ample rainfall and acidic soil, moving westward becomes arid and alkaline.


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RE: Fresh Wood Chip Mulch

I too get plenty of wood mulch for free. Our local tipping station, where I take my gargabe, has one area where people dump leaves and grass (which they haul off for the municipal composting process at the landfill site) and another area where people dump brush, wood, and other things. Ever so often, they run all this stuff through a huge grinder, making a huge mountain of wood mulch that is free for the taking.

Now while I would never use this stuff in my vegetable garden or even in my compost pile, it makes excellent ground mulch in areas that I don't want grass to grow, such as paths between my raised beds, in the general area around my compost piles where I don't want it grassy nor do I want it muddy. I even use it to form a barrier around flower beds between the bed and the lawn. Another use is in what I'll call utility areas, where I keep things that I wouldn't want grass to grow up all around such as my trailer, extra barrels to make new rainbarrels or compost tumblers, various other garden tools, trash cans, etc.

I'll say that even in flwer or garden beds that wood mulch is many, many times better than what I've got in some of my beds. The previous owner if my house at some point thought it was a good idea to cover the beds with a rock mulch, in white. It may have looked good that first year, but then I'm sure it quickly went downhill. I dug up iris rhizomes that went down over a foot deep, where they were planted originally. That's how much stuff has been piled on top since it was originally planted. Whole layers of those rocks just make the whole beds a disaster. Wood mulch would have rotted and added value to the beds. The rocks just make trying to do anything there a disaster. I pick them out, little by little as I am working any of the soil, but with that experience I can definitively say that you should never put anything in flower beds (or vegetable) unless it will eventually rot down.


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RE: Fresh Wood Chip Mulch

QUOTE - "Now while I would never use this stuff in my vegetable garden or even in my compost pile..."

Can you elaborate on why you don't use it in your compost pile?


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RE: Fresh Wood Chip Mulch

I spray my fresh wood chips with a molasses or honey water solution and pile them up for a few months. The sugar speeds up the decomposition. They really cook. In a few months they are ready to use a mulch. I use them as mulch in the vegetable garden for 3-4 more months. Maybe even spray again if they need it. By then, they are decomposed enough to work into the soil. They encourage the saprophytic phase of mycorrhizal fungus until the right roots come along. They grow a fungus that kills nematodes. They release more nitrogen than they consume at that point. They release potassium. Etc.

Here is a link that might be useful: Building up Soil


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RE: Fresh Wood Chip Mulch

I don't like using it in my vegetable garden or compost pile because it is big chunks of wood. Even in a good working compost pile it could take years for it to rot down. I want my vegetable garden to have fine, mixable soil; not something with big lumps of wood in it. In an established perrenial garden bed, with shrubs and stuff, I'd consider using this wood mulch, but would probably still go with shredded leaves instead. I use this wood mulch extensively as about a foot wide border around the outside of each of my garden beds that borders lawn, and I pile it THICK. Inside that I'll use shredded leaves, straw, or even compost as mulch.


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RE: Fresh Wood Chip Mulch

Thank you Scotty66 for posting info about Austin. I'm right up the road off of 812/21, so I'll be taking advantage of this next week! I'm in the process of planning out my spring beds and have decided to use wood mulch. Very excited after watching the Back To Eden movie, very inspirational! backtoedenfilm dot com to watch it. My original plan was to lasagna with compost/hay. I think I will still lasagna, but defiantly will be topping with wood mulch :)


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RE: Fresh Wood Chip Mulch

  • Posted by jolj 7b/8a-S.C.USA (My Page) on
    Sun, Jan 29, 12 at 15:02

The Power Company here is now spraying the small saplings that they would have chipped up every ten years.
So no more wood chips from them & some more unemployment for the chipping workers.
They sprayed the tree & left them standing dead.


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RE: Fresh Wood Chip Mulch

I collect Christmas trees after the holidays. I hold them upside down by the trunk and lop off the branches with a machete, then layer the branches over my perennial beds. The trunks make useful poles in the garden for about three years, sturdy, and after the first summer, light. In spring, I remove the branches once things have started to warm up and put them through the chipper-shredder. I use the chips as a fragrant mulch on the paths between my raised beds. Because I don't know where the trees are from, or how they were raised, I don't use them as mulch for my beds, but in the paths they make a nice clean scented surface to walk on (though not barefoot).


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RE: Fresh Wood Chip Mulch

That Back To Eden video is pretty preachy about the bible.


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RE: Fresh Wood Chip Mulch

I use wood chips from Asplundh when I can, usually about 6"/yr., under the apple and peach trees now for the last 4 years. It is amazing how much they break down considering this isn't exactly a wet climate here. In the last 3 years I've put down about 1 1/2' in total and there is currently about a 1" deep mulch now.

One of the best things about the chips here, as opposed to leaves and grass clippings (my other principle materials available) is that they don't shed rain, the other materials tend to shed rain particularly if applied too thick. the chips definitely help retain moisture, my primary aim.

Getting a full truck load or 2 of chips free from the Asplundh boys every year is a huge benefit.

Oh, the worms sure have a ball in the soil under the mulch!


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RE: Fresh Wood Chip Mulch

MoleX, yes it is. Personally, that message isn't really my thing, but the gardening side of the movie is :). I have four beds going with a heavy layer of mulch and I'm really liking the results. There are several people on youtube taking the 'method' to trial as well.
Michael357, WOW on the worms!! I came back mainly to comment on your mention of the worms. I have never in my life seen so many worms on my property. Sure I would find one or two here and there digging around, but of the beds that I have mulched and planted ... it seems every worm in the neighborhood has moved in. I'm lovin' it!!


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RE: Fresh Wood Chip Mulch

Scott66, I used wood chips in a lasagna garden 3 or 4 years ago. They were layered with grass clippings, leaves and manure and the soil is stil good. I have a huge pile of chips in my field and I love them. DH brings me front end loader piles of chips to make paths over our horrible clay soil and around the raspberries. Paths get renewed semi-annually. When you have a large area to cope with, it is nice to have a supply of material that can be used for many purposes. I have used chips in a new flower bed but that is spectacularly unsuccessful. There were too many problems with this bed in addition to the chips to work.


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RE: Fresh Wood Chip Mulch

  • Posted by pt03 2b Southern Manitob (My Page) on
    Wed, Apr 25, 12 at 18:10

Giving it away yet not many people seem interested, go figure.

Lloyd


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RE: Fresh Wood Chip Mulch

If the soil under the mulch is very healthy and filled with OM, I don't think it matters if the plants are mulched with wood chips. I used it for years and never saw a stunned yellow plant. All my plants are glowing with health.


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