Sometimes you may have more than a few wood chips left over after a good cleanup on your property. Now it’s time to find out how to deal with that pile.
We’ve put together a list of what to do with wood chips from chipper, starting with the most obvious and ending with some creative ideas.
Don’t skip to the end, because even to the initial ways, we’ve tried to add pros, cons, and helpful tips. All in all, we have accumulated 10 methods of how to use wood chips. So, here we go!
#1 Wood Chip Mulch
The very first and most common way to use wood chips from chipper is as mulch. Wood chips naturally decompose while improving soil structure and composition. But what’s called mulch?
A mulch is a layer of material applied to the surface of soil. A mulch is usually, but not exclusively, organic in nature. It may be permanent (e.g. plastic sheeting) or temporary (e.g. bark chips).
How to use wood chip mulch
The application of mulch accomplishes several goals:
- enrich soil composition,
- normalize soil temperature all year round,
- conserving moisture in the soil,
- protect the soil from weeds,
- prevent soil erosion.
Wood chips are truly a versatile tool for many uses! Let’s take a look at how it goes.
How does wood chip mulch work?
As an organic material, wood chips have a vital advantage over other types of mulch. In nature, the soil is always covered with the remains of dead plants and fallen leaves. The plant debris decomposes to form a layer of humus in the soil, making the soil fertile. Wood chip mulching follows this natural process.
As a result of natural decomposition, the soil is enriched with useful substances that plants in the garden need so much. It works as a natural fertilizer. With the help of microorganisms living in the soil, organic compounds become available for plant nutrition.
Also, the layer of organic mulch serves as a shelter for earthworms, which loosen the soil and saturate it with air. In this way, the soil becomes comfortable for root growth.
What are the other benefits of wood chip mulching?
By covering the soil with a layer of mulch, you can regulate soil temperature, protect it from direct sunlight in summer and close contact with snow in winter. Also, mulch maintains an optimal moisture level in the soil. It is a porous material that keeps moisture levels and prevents the soil from drying out.
Adding wood chips layer makes the soil inaccessible to foreign seeds from outside, which inhibits weed growth. And those seeds that were already in the soil hardly germinate without sunlight. Also wood chips are an obstacle for weeds that reproduce by shoots and sprouts as they cannot reach new places.
Wood chips protect your garden not only from weed invasion, but also from adverse weather conditions. Strong winds and heavy rains can thin the topsoil. Even a not-so-thick layer of mulch will keep the topsoil from being blown away by wind or washed out by rain.
Are there any disadvantages to wood chip mulching?
The downsides of wood chip mulch include the fact that it is a comfortable environment for fungi and mold. Therefore, do not place the mulch close to the trunk or stem of the plant. Leave some space in a circle so that the plant can breathe better.
Also keep in mind that not all plants do well with wood chips. Be especially careful with roses and tomatoes!
Be sure to control what wood the chips are made from. Painted or chemically treated wood is not suitable for mulch chips. It can be harmful to your plants!
So, the result of using mulch is to increase soil fertility, control soil erosion, reduce weed growth, and protect your plants all year round.
Also do not forget that mulch can be used for decorative purposes, but let’s talk about this further.
Something Important about Fresh Wood Chips
There is something you should know about wood chip applications in mulching and composting. Fresh wood chips differ in their properties from those that have been lying around for some time and have partially rotted.
It’s all about nitrogen fixation. Fresh chippings tie up much more nitrogen than old chips. And there are both positive and negative aspects to this.
Fresh chips pros and cons
With active nitrogen tying, fresh chipping works great for fruit trees, parks, and shrubs. That creates an environment similar to forested areas. It also plays to your advantage in your compost pile, where nitrogen-containing materials are plentiful.
But this overactive nitrogen fixation works against you in your vegetable plot. Fresh wood chips add too much carbon, which neutralizes as much nitrogen as it reaches. This can lead to depleted soil and poor vegetable growth that you won’t be happy with.
To keep the fresh wood chip carbon from using up all the nitrogen available in the soil, you have two ways.
How to get the best wood chips for mulching
First, balance the fresh chippings with green wood. Shredded leaves and grass cuttings are what you have in abundance, aren’t they? They contain a large quantity of nitrogen to deal with this. Also, you can just use nitrogen fertilizer additionally.
The second method comes down to the wood chips no longer being so fresh. For example, let it first serve as a covering for a barbecue area or playground. This material breaks down pretty quickly, so after a season of service, the wood chips will be partially rotted, which is just perfect for mulching.
#2 Add Wood Chips To Your Compost Pile
Okay, so after pruning your garden trees, you’ve gotten rid of the branches with a chipper. Some of the wood chips are worth directing to the compost pile, if you are making one.
Recycling food and other organic waste into compost provides a range of environmental benefits, including improving soil health, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, recycling nutrients, and mitigating the impact of droughts.
Wood chips can be added to the compost heap to provide a better carbon to nitrogen ratio. Carbon is very important for the balance within the compost pile because it is essential for the microorganisms responsible for the decomposition process.
Pros and cons of adding wood chips to your compost bin
Composting with wood chips has some downside, but it will always be on your side if you follow our advice before putting all the wood chips you have into the compost heap.
Note that due to their rigid structure, composting wood chips improve air flow through the compost as they are less prone to compaction. But the downside of the dense structure is that a large portion of wood chips can slow down decomposition processes in your compost pile.
Fall leaves and grass clippings decompose much faster than wood chips, but they are not such carbon rich material. To avoid slowing down the composting process too much, add wood chips to your compost bin in small increments and use the smallest pieces possible, down to wood chippings.
What you definitely don’t want is pieces with nails, screws, or other metal fasteners among the wood chips. First, it is unsafe for wood chippers. Second, metal oxidation can harm the balance of bacteria in your compost bin.
#3 Wood Chips in Landscaping
Wood chips are commonly used in landscaping. Among green materials, wood chips and sawdust are one of the most popular. They are used not only in private households but also in public gardens and parks.
So if you’re looking for what to do with wood chips from chipper on your property, we have plenty to share. And here are some ideas on how you can use wood chips to design your garden.
Wood chips as a border between plants
If you have a small amount, use it as a border between plants within garden beds, or make a dividing strip between wild plants and the planted ones. Over time, the wood chips will become part of the soil and balance out the nitrogen rich materials, which of course is beneficial to soil fertility.
In addition, by using wood chip borders, you will not only make beautiful patterns on your lawn, but you will also save your flower beds from weeds. You can also use wood chips to suppress grass growth where you don’t want it, such as in a parking lot.
Covering mud with wood chips
Next, a small amount of wood chips will come in handy to cover the areas on the property where mud is most likely to form. Spread wood chips where there is excess water and you will soon find your boots mud-free.
Areas around roof gutters and site low spots are worth special attention. A three-inch layer of wood chips can significantly raise the ground level and drain excess moisture.
Although you may want to consider a drainage system if this problem persists as using wood chips is not a permanent solution to the problem.
Lay Wood Chip Walkways
If you have run a large amount of branches through your chipper, you will have enough wood chips to make paths. Creating pathways is a great way to recycle all the wood chips you have now and will have in the future.
Wood chip pathways will keep your shoes clean and dry, even where it is wet and there is a lot of soil, such as between beds after watering. Such informal paths have another plus for your beds. They discourage invasive plant growth and make garden maintenance easier.
Even if you’re not a fan of beds on the property, wood chip walkways are handy wherever there are holes or cavities in your path. Wood chips can even out the curves of the ground that paver stones can’t cope with.
Just like creating paths, wood chip playground cushioning requires a lot of material. You will need a five to six inch thick layer of wood chips that should be compressed well to create a playground surface. Wood chips are an eco-friendly material that doesn’t get sizzling hot in the heat and doesn’t retain water after rains.
If your children have a favorite swing, you know firsthand what pits children’s feet leave in the ground. With wood chips, you can always restore a smooth surface without difficulty.
In addition, wood chips will serve as a softening covering under jungle gyms in your backyard. This cushioning and leveling cover will keep kids from landing hard.
Eco-friendly wood chip cover around a bench
One more idea how to use wood chips from chipper is to create an informal garden seating area. Just spread them around your benches, garden furniture or barbecue zone.
It will be easy and simple for you to keep these areas tidy, protecting your lawns from trampling and mud building up. Equally, your shoes will be protected from dirt and dampness even right after a rainstorm.
And over time, when the wood chip covering wears out, you can send it to a compost bin for further recycling. After a season underfoot, this natural element will be halfway ready for disposal.
With these various uses for wood chips, your garden shredder will never be idle and your garden will always be tidy. But that’s not the end of it, keep reading for our all-in-one post on all the uses of wood chips in the backyard!
Never use wood chips from trees infested with fungus, bark beetles or other diseases. Contact with such wood chips can trigger allergies in children, adults and even pets. Even more so, your garden and other trees around will be at risk of infestation.
#4 Use Wood Chips in Your Beds
The next idea for using wood chipping is to make a variety of beds. Wood chips add carbon storage to your beds, making the soil ready to be fertile all season long. Here’s how you can use the wealth from your wood chipper in your vegetable garden:
- building raised beds,
- creating Hugelkultur Mounds,
- using wood chips in a hot beds.
Wood chip in raised beds
Wood chips are great for creating raised beds in a “lasagna” style. This means that lasagna beds have layers of different types of substrate inside, replicating the arrangement of a compost heap.
Wood chips are the carbon-rich layer while nitrogen-rich green materials include grass clippings, food scraps, coffee grounds, eggshells, and chicken manure. So established beds add nutrients to the soil as soon as they are available.
Make sure the layers are thin enough to change frequently. Otherwise, too thick a layer of wood chips can cause nitrogen deficiency, which is detrimental for small-rooted annual plants.
Сreating Hugelkultur mounds
The same principle applies to mound beds, which are also known as Hugelkultur Mounds. These are also raised beds, but they are not flat but semicircular, as if forming a mini hill. With mound beds, you can catch as much light or shade as you need for nearby plants.
The inner filling of such a mound can consist of a sturdy base, such as logs or large branches, and then repeating layers of lasagna.
Using wood chips for heating beds
It is well known that wood chipping helps regulate soil temperature. This does not only happen when the wood chips are placed on the ground outside. It also works if the wood shavings are inside, mixed with layers of green compost materials.
The chemical reaction in which wood chip decomposition draws out soil nitrogen occurs with the release of heat, which warms the surrounding soil. Knowing this trick can help you grow plants from warmer climates on your property.
To be sure, equip the heated bed with heat-reflective material along the border. Optionally, you can use a top cover of glass or plastic, creating a small greenhouse.
#5 Heating Water for Irrigation
While we’re on the subject of heating, let me give you another idea. Let me present you a wood chip heated water that you can use to water sensitive and disease prone plants.
It is known that the decomposition process in a compost pile occurs with the release of heat. This principle works not only in the beds, but also spread further.
Simply loop a watering hose inside the compost bin and leave the water inside for a while. This works like heating water in a hose from the sun, but year round.
When I realized this wood chip life hack I purposely bought an extended hose and looped it through the tank. If I have an opportunity to make my life easier, I act on it! Turn wood chips not only into compost, but into energy!
Wood chip quality tip!
If you buy wood chip from a local arborist, be sure to ask about its origin and condition. You definitely don’t want to damage your garden with improper wood chips!
#6 Growing Mushrooms
Have you ever thought about harvesting mushrooms from your own plot of land? We have good news for you that it’s not just vegetables and herbs that like wood chips.
Since you already have a wood chipper or rent one, it won’t be hard to grow mushrooms. Here’s a quick guide to growing wine cap mushroom.
Guide to mushrooms grown on wood chip
Stock up on hardwood chips, as mushrooms don’t like pine, spruce and other softwoods. It is better if the wood chip is not the freshest, but a little bit aged.
Next, leave the wood chips in a water tank for about a week, then your mushroom garden substrate is ready. The сhipping need to absorb enough water and be loose.
Then, dig a small hole about 4 inches deep, line the bottom with cardboard and spread the wood chips. It’s best if the mushroom bed is close to trees in a shady spot.
Finally, you only have to spread the mushroom spawn and cover it lightly with a thin layer of wood chips so that the fungal spores are not blown away by the wind.
Voila, your wood chip mushroom farm is ready! Don’t forget to moisten the soil while you wait for your little champignons.
#7 Chicken Run and Animal Bedding
If you keep rabbits or have a chicken run, you don’t need to hint twice how to use wood chips. They can make great bedding, allowing your animals to stay clean.
For the safety of your animals, avoid large and sharp pieces. You should also stay away from softwoods for bedding because of their sticky resin.
There is another reason why it is better to use hardwood. Hardwood chips are less susceptible to mold and fungus growth.
Chips as such do not attract termites. But if you already have ants or termites on your property, wood chips will be an excellent habitat for them. Beware of using wood chips close to your home to avoid inviting them in.
#8 Grilling and Smoking Foods
The next way to use wood chips from chipper is to smoke and grill food. There are an inexhaustible number of recipes for outdoor cooking. You can choose one that suits the wood chips you have on hand.
The most common woods used for smoking are oak, apple, cherry, hickory, and mesquite. Each brings its own special flavor to your dish. If you haven’t yet tried DIY smoked poultry, turkey, beef, and even fish, there are many wonderful discoveries ahead.
You can also use wood chips in these situations:
- as a kindling or fuel in a small stove or fire pit,
- make your own wood briquettes for a conventional stove,
- turn the wood chips into biochar,
- make matchsticks out of wood chips and wax.
#9 Building up a Bug Hotel
Wood chips are a suitable environment for many beneficial insects and animals, such as earthworms, spiders and ladybugs. By building a small house for insects and small animals, you can get the ones that control garden pests on your side.
If your area is quite cold at night or in winter, such a bug hotel would be a great shelter for its inhabitants. In this way you will contribute to the biodiversity of our planet instead of cut down forests and planted fields.
#10 Creativity and Handicrafts with Children
Natural materials are something that is good for young children to play with. Wood chips can develop tactile skills and fine motor skills, they are good for playing and experimenting.
Using fragments of wood and bark, you can make kraft paper, boats and ships, wicker toys and baskets, homemade matches, dream catchers and so on.
FAQ What to Do with Wood Chips from Chipper
What do you do with wood chips after chipping?
The main use of wood chips is to use them as organic mulch. This way you can kill several birds with one stone. When applied properly, mulch suppresses weed growth, retains water in the soil and regulates its temperature. If the mulch in your beds is already thinning, add more mulch.
What can I do with fresh chipped wood?
In short, here’s the top-10 list of what you can do with wood chips:
- Wood chip mulch (including soil erosion control and moisture content, plants spread control)
- Wood chip composting
- Creating wood chip walkways and pathways
- Creating raised planter beds and Hugelkultur mounds
- Growing mushrooms
- As fuel for starting fire
- Grilling and smoking foods
- Landscape design and garden zoning
- Animal bedding
- Creativity and crafting with children
Can you use the mulch from a chipper?
Of course, yes, you should definitely use chipper mulch because it’s great for gardening! Just be aware that fresh chippings are not always suitable for mulching.
How do you get rid of woodchips?
There are a dozen ways to get rid of wood chips, from composting and mulching to landscaping and cultivating mushrooms. Choose your favorite among all the ways listed in our article!
In Summary: What to Do with Wood Chips from Chipper
So, here are the 25 tasks that can be accomplished with wood chips:
- Improve soil’s composition;
- Maintain normal soil temperatures throughout the year;
- Conserving water in soil;
- Prevent weeds from growing in soil;
- Stop soil erosion;
- Compost to make fertilizer;
- Line the borders between different plants;
- Cover areas prone to dirt;
- Line paths between beds;
- Make ornamental pathways;
- Create playground surfacing;
- Design garden seating areas;
- Build raised beds;
- Create Hugelkultur mounds;
- Use wood chips in a hot beds;
- Heat water in irrigation hoses;
- Start a mushroom garden;
- Use as bedding for animals;
- Line the floor of a coop;
- Use as kindling or fuel;
- Make your own wood briquettes;
- Turn chips into biochar;
- Craft matchsticks;
- Build up an insect hotel;
- Games and crafts with children.