wood chips as mulch?

dedtiredMarch 13, 2009

Hi. I had a birch tree cut down (actually part of it snapped off in an ice storm). I also had the stump routed out. This left me with a small mountain of woods chips.

Can I use this for mulch in my flower beds? It's not "aged" like the mulch I usually get in bags. It's still a medium brown color.

what do you? If it makes a difference, I live just outside of Philadelphia in the northwest suburbs.


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earthlydelights(6 pushing 7)

hi pam,

i've used them and never had a problem. i used to let them sit a bit to dry out, but then when it started to rain, i had to scratch my head and wonder why.

don't pile them too deep otherwise it can cause fungus to grow and then no water will penetrate.

it's also good to use as a walkway too.

i have used them in my veggie garden, but only as paths.

i have a tree that needs to come down, if i could just get a realistic price, and once it does, i will used it for mulch.


    Bookmark   March 14, 2009 at 10:03AM
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Thanks, Maryanne. It seemed like I could but since it looks so different from the bagged stuff, I wasn't sure. I stil have much more than I can use, since my property is small.

Yes, the cost of having a tree taken down can be quite a lot. I am fortunate that the local tree guy knows me from way back and gives me a decent price. He and I are old-timers around here. I'd like to know what he charges the newcomers, who tend to be very well off.

I also had an arborvitae taken down and spent this morning cleaning up the mess from that, which includes yanking up the ivy that was growing under there.

Endless, but I love working in the yard.


    Bookmark   March 14, 2009 at 8:46PM
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Triott(z5b Western PA)

Go ahead and put down your wood chips and then get a few bags of the regular mulch you usually use and just put down a thin layer of that mulch over your wood chips and everything should match.


    Bookmark   March 16, 2009 at 7:25AM
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eaglesgarden(6b - se PA)


The biggest concern most folks have with the wood chips is if they are worked into the soil...they can then sap nitrogen from the soil, which can leave your plants starving for nitrogen.

If, however, you are only using it as mulch, there should not be a problem, except for possibly the very top layer of soil. However, if you are using it with established perennials, their roots should be well below that level and not cause any drop in N. Annuals or veggies might be a little more susceptible to it, since they will have their roots (when transplanted) at the very top level of the soil. A way to fix this is to use a higher nitrogen fertilizer early, and to DEEPLY water, but not frequently water. The deeper, more infrequent watering will cause the roots to go DOWN to look for more water, and as a result move away from any soil that MIGHT be a little lower in N, as a result of the wood chips.

Personally, I just dropped about 12 cubic yards of wood chips (fresh stuff from down the block) over a patch of grass that I was tired of cutting that is going to be turning into a nice cottage garden for my wife. I'm not worried about Nitrogen depletion, but I don't plan to plant anything this spring/summer. In the fall I plan to put in some shrubs and ferns.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2009 at 12:33PM
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Thanks for the additional advice. Someone told me to work some lawn fertilizer into the wood chips. Perhaps that is meant to add nitrogen? I will probably put them as-is on to the beds. I have both perennials and annuals in the beds. I may skip the annuals in some beds as the deer have started to eat them all. One of them had my pretty hellebore for dessert the another night.

I like the idea of putting a thin layer of regular mulch over it.

Between the deer and losing two trees, my yard is looking pretty sad, but spring is almost here and hope springs eternal!

    Bookmark   March 17, 2009 at 3:45PM
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Deer eating hellebores? Wow, I thought they were always safe.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2009 at 4:04PM
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Yes -- they were nipped off as clean as could be. That one is especially pretty and I was so angry when I saw it was gone. Darn deer, and I am only about twelve miles from Philadelphia's City Hall. Next thing you know they will be buying tickets for a ride on the R5.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2009 at 5:01PM
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Before you use any wood chip mulch, you should read up on the fungus that may come from it. I love the look of wood mulch around my foundation plantings, but the little black dots of the fungus has made a mess of the house siding, porch railings and furniture. Check it out.

Here is a link that might be useful: Wood mulch fungus

    Bookmark   March 27, 2009 at 10:46AM
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ajpa(z6 se PA)

Gazania, something you might want to try:
Down the page with reader suggestions, there is a 10th grader who did a science project on it and found a 2 step method that takes the spots off:
1) soak the spots in paper towels & mouthwash (Cinnamon Ice Scope)
2) wipe off with either colgate whitening toothpaste or Mr Clean Magic Eraser

Here is a link that might be useful: artillery fungus

    Bookmark   March 27, 2009 at 5:22PM
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Ajpa, what an interesting read! Thanks for posting it. This students solution could be responsible for keeping the Scope and Crest people in business during these hard economic times!

    Bookmark   March 28, 2009 at 7:32AM
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