Wood chipper and Desert trees

greyongrayNovember 20, 2012

So I have a few trash trees to get rid of (mostly Mexican Palo Verde) and the odd branch or two from regular landscaping maintenance, and I'm wondering if a home wood chipper would be suitable?

I ask because I really do need the organic material and would rather pay for a tool than haul off. Would rather use wood chips than add to the waste stream.

Has anyone done this at home and with thorny trees? How did it go and were the thorns mitigated by the process or did handling the chips require care still?

Fyi I don't think any of my branches exceed 3" in diameter. Someone chopped this tree to the ground thinking it would die but instead it grew back as a 20-trunked thorny nightmare.

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i would like to know this as well...

    Bookmark   November 20, 2012 at 2:07PM
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MaryMcP Zone 8b - Phx AZ

I have a small chipper that I inherited from pagancat when she moved to TN. It's gas powered and I have not used it in quite some time but this is what I remember:

- it's very loud
- it's very dirty (dust and crud go everywhere)
- stuff gets stuck in it fairly easily

I would expect it to chop the thorns well but am not sure because I did not chip anything thorny.

It may be that this is a 'low end' chipper and/or an older model. I'm always hearing about the ability to call a local tree trimming place and they will deliver chips to you but I've never tried.

greyongrey, maybe you can make firewood of the stuff you have and find chips elsewhere.

Sorry I'm not more help. Maybe pagancat will chime in.

    Bookmark   November 20, 2012 at 5:20PM
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tomatofreak(Z9 Phx USA)

I don't have a chipper and the reason I don't is that the models that will take branches any bigger than a twig are terribly expensive. Even so, I went to buy a used commercial type one and the guy selling it couldn't keep it from choking up every other branch. I did get some 'chipped' thorny tree trimmings a couple of years ago and, believe me, all the thorns were intact. It's not worth it to try to chip thorny trees.

If you're in Phoenix or another valley city that has bulk trash collections, chop the thing up and put it out for city pickup. My two cents worth...

    Bookmark   November 21, 2012 at 12:21AM
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Okay thanks guys. It sounds like too much hassle and cost to get another headache over the gardening/landscaping stuff.

Luckily I do have bulk pickup, I just hate handling these nasty trees and worry that if I put the whole thing out they will only take some of it! Then again they do allow for a pretty big pile in Scottsdale.

Anyone know if the bulk pickup does anything special with the landscape waste, or do they just throw it in the landfill... I'm guessing they just toss it, why sort the branches from the broken furniture, this issue may be one to just sigh and let be.

    Bookmark   November 21, 2012 at 11:35AM
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tomatofreak(Z9 Phx USA)

Check with Scottsdale Public Works to see if they recycle green waste. Phoenix has a contract with a company that composts green waste, including all the stuff that gets dumped at the Lower Buckeye landfill. They have a section for all the green stuff that's brought in. Frankly, I think the city should *give* the composted waste back to citizens, but the company sells several grades of composted waste, from garden soil to mulch. The big companies use hammermills to pulverize cellulose. Talk about noise and dirt....

    Bookmark   November 21, 2012 at 6:20PM
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Yes, a wood chipper will take care of the desert trees. The thorns, such as from ironwood, don't persist in the shreddings for long.

But, the ones that can handle branches are not cheap. Mine can take branches up to a couple of inches (anything larger is firewood for us.

It was used heavily for several years as we caught up on overdue tree maintenance, now it's about once a year. We use the shreddings as mulch and compost material,l and I like not having to plan my gardening around bulk trash pickup, ski weekends and hot weather.

Here is a link that might be useful: My shredder

    Bookmark   November 23, 2012 at 10:58AM
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Thanks lazygardens - I read your review on the chipper and then saw the 10:1 ratio. I don't think I will have enough brush now or in the near future to make it really worthwhile....

I think I will put the money toward a fire pit instead! There will be a certain satisfaction in having a nice evening outside, burning these crap trees. I don't think I would get more than a couple cubic feet of mulch from it all.

    Bookmark   November 24, 2012 at 4:40PM
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Fwiw, you can rent a chipper/shredder from most Home Depot/Lowes. They're the type you tow from a hitch.

    Bookmark   November 24, 2012 at 5:27PM
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MaryMcP Zone 8b - Phx AZ

Ah....we love a fire of an evening.....this is an old picture. The inside drum of a washing machine is great for controlling sparks. We sometimes take this camping. But just here in the yard, it's that fire pit under the drum. A friend took down a bunch of eucalyptus trees a couple of years ago and we are still burning chunks of it. It's a nice, hot and clean burning wood. Go for it greyongray!

    Bookmark   November 24, 2012 at 6:39PM
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Now THAT is clever - you can really pile up the firewood and get a roaring fire without worrying about collapse and flaming logs rolling onto your feet. Great air flow, and it looks nice too!

Did you remove the paint or did it just burn off?

    Bookmark   November 27, 2012 at 12:03AM
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MaryMcP Zone 8b - Phx AZ

Hi Juttah - Those drums are stainless steel so no paint, but it would just have burned off. They really are good at spark containment and just fun to watch. Hubby has a metal recycling gig and often has washing machines that he takes apart to recycle the metal. Contact me off-line if you would like to purchase one. Not sure on pricing, I'll check with him if there is interest.

    Bookmark   November 27, 2012 at 8:16AM
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