If you have recently used a mulcher attachment to clear a significant amount of brush or trees from a piece of property, you likely have an abundance of fresh wood chips on your hands. While it is possible to recycle or otherwise dispose of the chips, that isn't the only option. Whether you've finished a large-scale public land project or have cleared away unwanted brush on your own property, there are several possible uses for the resulting wood chips to consider.
1. Create Natural Mulch
One of the most popular wood chip applications is mulch. Mulch can be a great tool for creating a better environment for growing vegetation. Compared to artificial mulch, arborists and landowners often prefer natural materials because they are very beneficial for the soil. Wood chip mulch specifically is best suited for shrub and tree placement. To see the best results, apply wood chip mulch at a depth of 4-6 inches.
When used correctly, mulch leads to:
- Easier maintenance: Place mulch over problematic areas to stunt weed growth. For plants that require constant moisture, mulch can also help lock water in and allow you more time in between waterings.
- A better plant environment: In addition to promoting a more structured soil, mulch helps regulate the temperature of the plants it surrounds, promoting growth. As natural mulch breaks down over time, those nutrients will go directly back into the soil, fueling new growth.
Before using wood chips as a natural mulch, make sure the source trees are free of diseases that could transfer to other plants. If you are concerned about possible disease transfer, allow your mulch time to sit away from your vegetation for several days before placing it. Take the time to research the best mulching methods associated with your specific type of vegetation, including how much and where to apply natural mulch. Some studies demonstrate too much mulching can have a negative effect on the pH levels of soil. Other times, too much mulch can cause plant root systems to become oversaturated from excess moisture.
Avoid adding more mulch over time, even if the natural color of the wood chips begin to fade. Instead, renew your mulch bed every two to three years.
2. Use as Fuel
Bioenergy refers to the use of renewable resources, known as biomass, to act as energy for fuel, transportation, heat, electricity, and other various applications. Forest residue and urban wood waste are two common types of biomass. You can donate your fresh mulching chips to a bioenergy center near you, or you can use them as a type of fuel source at your own residence or place of business.
For example, you can use wood chips to start or fuel controlled fires. Depending on the type of tree, you might even consider using some wood chips for cooking, such as cherry or applewood. Before you can successfully use wood chips as biomass, you need to wait for them to dry out completely.
3. Aid in Composting
If you need to know what to do with fresh wood chips after a recent project, consider using them to create natural compost. Composting refers to collecting and placing organic matter on a patch of soil or land with the specific intention to help it grow and thrive.
Benefits of composting include:
- Healthier soil with fewer pests and plant diseases
- Little to no need for chemical fertilizers
- Increased production of helpful bacteria and fungi that aid in decomposition
- Fewer landfill methane emissions
Successful compost requires an equal balance of brown and green materials, including wood chips. Wood chips also aid in compost by contributing a significant amount of carbon. Like mulch, however, it is essential that you research the best wood-to-compost ratio, so you do not suffocate the other nutrients in your compost blend.
4. Protect Against Erosion
Erosion control is often necessary after construction, land management, road removal, and site restoration projects. Erosion control methods help restabilize the soil. Using a natural form of erosion control, such as fresh mulching chips, is the best way to help the soil and surrounding vegetation recover because as organic matter decomposes, it adds nutrients to the land.
You can use wood chips with other forms of natural erosion control, such as straw, animal manure, and crop residue. Never use wood-based erosion control in an area where permanent vegetation is planned, as most ground cover — including grass — will have trouble growing through it.
5. Enhance Your Property
While fresh wood chip mulching certainly has its practical benefits, it also looks great. Many private and public landowners use the natural colors of wood mulch to add visual interest to landscaped areas or the green spaces of a retail parking lot. Other uses for wood mulch include designing and installing an organic, compostable walkway or using it to add a natural boundary to different areas of the property. Or, if a lot of mud surrounds your current sidewalk, lay a layer of mulch on the surrounding soil to keep your path clear and mess-free.
However you choose to use your fresh wood mulch, it's important to regularly inspect, rotate, and change the mulch to prevent possible pest infestation and keep mulch looking fresh.
Find Mulching Attachments at Diamond Mowers
Just because you're clearing trees or brush from land doesn't mean those materials can no longer serve a purpose. Now that you know what to do with wood chips, you can implement these strategies to save money you would have spent on alternative mulch or composting materials. Repurposing wood chips is also the best way to get as much use out of the land as possible and minimize resource waste.
If you are preparing to clear your land, Diamond Mowers has the attachments you need, including:
- Our Skid-Steer Forestry Disc Mulcher is available in 60-inch cutting width and mulches up to 6-inch diameter trees or brush.
- Our Skid-Steer Drum Mulcher is available in 60- and 72-inch cutting widths and mulches up to 9-inch diameter trees or brush.
- Our Excavator Forestry Disc Mulcher is available in 36-inch and 48-inch cutting widths and mulches up to 6-inch diameter trees or brush.
- Our Tractor Boom Forestry Disc Mulcher is available in 36-inch cutting width and mulches up to 5-inch trees or brush.