lalameija(8 oregon)May 14, 2012

I need a truckload of woodchips and have heard that Lawnscape companies often want to get rid of these and do so for free. I have called a few [places and they have acted like I was making a strange request. Any hints? Anyone out there want to dump a load of woodchips in Oregon City?

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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

What you need is a tree service working nearby.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2012 at 1:21PM
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reg_pnw7(WA 7, sunset 4)

Yes, not a lawn service, you need an arborist. Someone who just trims trees. You can also call the city or county as they often trim trees along roads. And the power company will contract with someone to trim trees along the power lines but you have to see them working and stop and give them your address.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2012 at 11:27AM
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Contact Asplundh. They hold the utility right of way clearing contracts for much of North America and their bright orange trucks are all over at this time of year. If in the area, they will dump for free. You can check by state for contact info

Here is a link that might be useful: Asplundh Tree Service

    Bookmark   May 18, 2012 at 2:39PM
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lalameija(8 oregon)

Thanks for the info!

    Bookmark   May 21, 2012 at 3:28AM
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bds51(7 (Black Forest, Germany)

Wood chips are expensive around here; 30 sq meters cost between 450 and 500 Euro. Nevertheless, our garden is solid pink clay (pink from all the sandstone). The path to our upper garden has about a 15 degree incline and is 40 meters long and 2 meters wide. I'd like to woodchip the entire area which is covered with ivy, weeds, grass, and sprouting oak trees and I'd like to know if I'd have traction problems with a tractor or car pulling a trailer. How thick a layer could I spread and still be able to drive up the slope?

    Bookmark   September 5, 2012 at 3:36PM
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dottyinduncan(z8b coastal BC)

bds51, I don't know how well wood chips would work in your garden. The reason we like them here in the Pacific NW is that they are free and we can use them in all sorts of applications. I have them as pathways across our veggie garden which is clay and in the rainy wintertime used to be dirty to walk across -- the clay would stick to your boots. After a couple of years, the chips break down and have to be replaced. You might have a different material that is readily available in your area that is inexpensive and will do the job you require.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2012 at 4:41PM
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bds51, 15 degrees is very steep. How do you know it is 15 degrees? You can't use the car, unless it is four-wheel-drive. If you use a tractor, it MUST be in four-wheel-drive. Two-wheel-drive is dangerous when driving downhill on a steep slope. If you lose traction at the rear wheels, you will have no engine braking, and your brakes won't work either, because tractors only have brakes on the rear tires. I know this from experience. It was very exciting.

30 sq meters is a measure of area. Do you mean 30 cubic meters? If so, that is 270 square feet, a gigantic mountain of wood chips. Maybe you should pay to have the chips blown into place.

If your slope is really 15 degrees, you will have a lot of trouble keeping the chips in place. Rain and foot traffic from people and animals will move the chips downhill, unless there are enough plants to hold the chips on the hill.

I recommend very big chips, if you can get them. They last longer. Chips from conifer trees last longer than chips from deciduous trees. Do not use chips from black walnut trees; they may inhibit plant growth.

Dottyinduncan, have you considered putting a layer of sand on your walkways? It won't decompose, and it does wonders for clay soil as it works its way in. You might have to add more occasionally as it spreads around. At my place, clay garden soil gets turned into sandy loam by tilling in an inch or more of sand. My topsoil doesn't stick to my shoes anymore.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2012 at 5:22PM
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botann(z8 SEof Seattle)

I always thought that sand added to clay results in stucco.
I use wood chips. A lot of woodchips. It makes for nice paths, an excellent mulch, and a very good soil amendment. In some areas I'm planting directly in nothing but aged woodchips several feet deep, and have, for a number of years.
I'm even experimenting using stump grindings as a potting soil. So far, so good.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2012 at 10:50AM
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Botann, the stucco/concrete thing is a load of nonsense. Sandy loam is the perfect garden soil. You make it by adding sand (a lot of sand) to clay loam soil. Google "soil triangle". And you only have to do it once. Every single person who has taken my advice and tried it (all three of them) have told me how pleased they are with the result. But it's a free country.

Beware of garden "experts" who live in fifth-story apartments in Brooklyn.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2012 at 11:46AM
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botann(z8 SEof Seattle)

I can see where a lot of sand would work better than a little. It's the porosity and good drainage that makes the addition of large amounts of sand that makes it successful.
I see your point.
I grow a large garden and sand has gotten expensive the last few years. Wood chips are free for me because a tree service parks his truck and chipper here.

    Bookmark   September 7, 2012 at 7:07AM
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dottyinduncan(z8b coastal BC)

lilydude, I'd love to have a layer of sand for my garden beds! It's not the cost of the stuff, it's the delivery and the difficulty of getting it to my veggie garden. With the wood chips, they get dumped in a field and are easy to move with our tractor. Thanks for the thought though.

    Bookmark   September 7, 2012 at 11:39AM
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It depends on the type of clay and the amount and texture of the sand being added but sand+clay=adobe/concrete is not a load of nonsense. It can be done but you will need a LOT of sand (at least 50% of volume) and very coarse sand at that, otherwise you will not develop the pore space to make any difference........hence the adobe :-) Sandy loam is one thing but it does not come to be just with sand and clay but with copious amounts of organic matter as well. Far easier to just use organic matter as amendment - cheaper, lighter and far less volume required. At least initially.

btw, 15 degrees is the max slope for a riding lawn mower. If a riding mower can handle it, a garden tractor (essentially the same piece of equipment, sans blades) should also be able to navigate the same slope.

Here is a link that might be useful: The myth of sand as a soil amendment

    Bookmark   September 7, 2012 at 4:58PM
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botann(z8 SEof Seattle)

I totally agree with Gardengal. She always says it better than I.
Nuff said.

    Bookmark   September 7, 2012 at 8:42PM
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bds51(7 (Black Forest, Germany)

You've given me a lot of interesting and useful info. I meant 30 cubic meters but that's not just for the path, it's for the rest of the garden as well. I'm going to check the angle again, maybe it's only 10 degrees but in any case, we often drive up with the tractor with a trailer full of one thing or another. I thought about bark chips (Rindenmulch /ecorces de pin) which are about the same price and are offered in normal size, medium size, and finely ground. I used some of the finely ground bark chips around the trees and bushes but it seems to act more like compost and disappears very fast. As for traffic on our path, that would only be cats and foxes and hedgehogs etc and the occasional visitor. The path is well shaded by cherry trees, oak trees, and pine trees that grow below and above it.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2012 at 2:40AM
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bds51(7 (Black Forest, Germany)

The slope of the garden path, according to our neighbor, is 10 degrees at the most. Wood, grass, leaves, or wood chips are slippery when wet but we don't drive up this path when it's wet. My question is what natural material and how much of it i.e. the approximate thickness, is going to give the best traction for the tractor or wheelbarrow or car and prevent all these grasses and weeds and ivy from overrunning it. Inspired by the Garden of Eden, I thought wood chips would be the best choice.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2012 at 3:38AM
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If you drive down a steep slope with a tractor in 2-wheel-drive, and if the rear axle is light for some reason, you risk losing traction on the rear and going for the ride of your life, possible ending up embedded in the wall of a building or out on a public road. I just spent a bunch of money fixing my chain link fence because of this. If the fence wasn't there, I would probably be dead. My tractor dealer told me he was already aware of this problem. My fence repair guy said it has happened to him. Don't believe me? Try it yourself. Can I watch?

My native soil is clay loam. If I till 1.5 inches of sand into the top 8 inches, the soil no longer crusts, and I can dig it with my bare hands. I have been improving clay loam soil with sand for over 40 years. It has worked consistently from New Jersey to Oregon to Washington state. And it is permanent. Once and done.

If you study the soil triangle, you will find that the soil type is independent of the humus content. http://www.oneplan.org/Water/soil-triangle.asp
It is a function of clay, silt, and sand only. Humus simply cannot do what sand can do. There are places that have been under organic cover probably since the last ice age. If you dig under the humus, you will find hard clay.

If I only till in 1 inch or less of sand, which I did in the first year that I lived here, plants will grow much better, but the soil will still crust and get hard when it dries. So you have to do a little experimenting to find out how much sand to use.

The reason it takes so little sand is that I am starting out with clay loam soil, which already has some sand in it. Look at the soil triangle. It doesn't take a heroic effort to turn clay loam into loam. If you have pure clay, like subsoil clay, the best thing to do is probably to get it off the property and replace it with a soil mix. Subsoil clay is hopeless.

If a garden area is already planted and can't be dug, then of course it makes sense to mulch with organic matter (or sand or gravel). But I do not recommend sand or fine bark on a steep slope. It will wash downhill during heavy rains.

My garden in Kalama is open to anyone who wants to see both sand and bark mulch in action. You can grow almost anything in sandy loam: alpines, rare lilies, California native bulbs, and so on. That to me means more than any scientific explanation. I will also be happy to discuss the soil science with you, as deeply as you would like to go, but not on this forum. Linda C-S isn't the only one with book learnin'.

    Bookmark   September 9, 2012 at 1:36AM
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FWIW, the sand/clay controversy has been discussed for years and Ms. Chalker-Scott is not the only one with considerable horticultural training to caution against it. There is a great deal of validity given to the argument when virtually every extension service bulletin addressing soil amending recommends organic matter over sand, as well as that of most soil sciences texts and curriculums.

No one is dissing sandy loam - it IS virtually the ideal planting medium. But sandy loam is not generated by simply adding sand to clay regardless of the volume. There is a necessary percentage of organic matter involved and the value of what organic matter can do for clay soils is indisputable. Organic matter builds soil tilth in a couple of ways. First, the organic matter coats soil particles, physically separating clay particles and aggregates from each other. Second, and more important, microorganisms that degrade organic matter produce byproducts called glomalin that bind individual clay particles together into aggregates. Particle aggregation in the soil layer reduces crusting, increases the rate of water infiltration by increasing pore space, and reduces erosion and runoff.

I'm not at all sure how this current discussion relates to bd51's question. Could he use woodchips for his purpose? I think they would work reasonably well but apparently they are not easy to obtain nor necessarily inexpensive in his location. Would some other material work better? Nothing organic comes to mind. Only thing I can think of that would be better would be crushed rock but can't imagine that would be easier to move or any cheaper.

    Bookmark   September 9, 2012 at 5:57PM
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