amyruth33May 26, 2008

Our home is on 2 acres of woodlands that is slowly being taken over by invasive species. There is a lot of japanese barberry, garlic mustard, stilt grass, russian olive and now some rose. We are having a bunch of trees removed in the front of our house where hemlocks and cedars will be removed and chipped. My question is whether the chips from these trees would be useful in the woodlands to keep these species from returning once pulled, sprayed or cut down. I am trying to reintroduce native species where the invasives are being removed. Will the chips hinder their ability to establish themselves? I feel as though I am fighting a losing battle and was hoping that the chips might help.

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I don't see how they will make any particular difference. Personally I would not stress over trying to make the 2 acres alien free entirely - that is almost impossible. That ship has sailed almost every where from a purist point of view. I think I would try to get rid of the things that bugged me the most first. I got rid of barberry on our 1.5 acre because it was taking over and it was a tough mean bugger with thorns though I think the birds like it. THen maybe work on the rose or whatever and plant what you like. Two acres, stand alone, will not a forest make, so make it what you enjoy. I go for natives where I can though lots of natives (like dogwood for instance) are having disease problems now so it is not always the safest way to go.

I'd surround myself with what I like.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2008 at 12:00AM
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Karchita(WA Z8)

When the chips are down ...

Sure, use them as a mulch and you might be able to hold off the invasives and get some more natives established.

However, I agree with Myrtle that you gotta pick your battles. I would only try to get rid of the most annoying and any that are on the noxious species list for your county.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2008 at 1:37AM
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kanuk(Zone 5 Qc Canada)

Woodchips have been very useful to us. Our property is predominantly woodland & 2 acres as well. Although we don't have the invasive species battle you discuss the chips have been extremely useful for making paths, mulching and for amending garden beds. Word of advice would be to keep the chips but be sure they dump the truck load in a place where you won't be moving it "wheel barrow" load by back breaking "wheel barrow" load later. It will also start to compost and it lets off a "hop like aroma" in the process. Situate the pile appropriately and you'll have a great supply of wood chips for various uses.
Prior to applying the wood chips on this property which we purchased 2 years ago I never saw a worm. Yesterday they were jumping out of the soil as I was digging. Evidence that they have done some good.
Best of all .... they're free!!

    Bookmark   May 27, 2008 at 7:44AM
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Wow, too bad you have to take down the hemlocks! A lovely native tree, and under threat of extinction. But do what you must. :)

BTW, w/ respect to earthworms, in Canada & most of the northern U.S. all earthworms are alien and can damage native woodland species by reducing the leaf duff. For most gardens, of course, earthworms do more good than harm, but for a native woodland garden, perhaps not.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2008 at 9:28AM
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Wood chips will slow down the bad guys but won't keep them out permanently.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2008 at 3:32PM
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lindac(Iowa Z 5/4)

And wood chips will decompose and add good stuff to your soil.
Linda C

    Bookmark   May 28, 2008 at 11:31PM
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Woodchips are great. I have put several truckloads in my woods, and the trillium, jack-in-the-pulpit, mayapple, etc. just LOVE it. The ground in my oak/hickory savannah was hard-packed clay when I bought it - someone had been clearing, probably burning leaves, for years, and there was very little ground-level growth except virginia creeper.

I don't use chips just for paths - I have probably put at least 12 inches worth on the entire 1/2 acre over several years. Now when you walk there the ground is springy. You can dig into it with your bare hand like it was a bag of potting soil. I still have garlic mustard, but at least pulling it up is easy - the whole plant just lifts out of the ground effortlessly.

I spread all the chips by hand with wheelbarrow - bought a big two-wheeler and a pitchfork. It's not all that hard - tip the barrow on its side next to the pile, and rake the stuff into it with the pitchfork, right it, and add a few forkfuls, and off you go. Then dump and use the pitchfork as a rake to spread it. You can be selective where you put it - don't bury the good guys, but surround them.

You won't discourage the natives with chips, unless, of course, you go too deep all at one time. But even then, they'd eventually colonize it.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2008 at 9:15AM
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If you run out of wood chips you can use layers of newspaper and cardboard as weed suppressing mulch. It's not as pretty but is much lighter on your back than a wheel barrow full of wood chips. I sometimes put down a layer of newspaper covered by wood chips.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2008 at 10:09AM
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