We live in a world where a lot of resources go to waste. After you use your wood chipper, you’ll probably feel a sense of guilt at the prospect of throwing away all of that leftover wood. But what on earth are you supposed to do with wood chips from your chipper? Don’t worry! In this article, we’ll cover a variety of creative ways you can use wood chips without needing to throw anything away.
Wood chips can be reused for a lot of gardening projects, including compost piles, mulch, and even walkways. Not only is reusing wood chips great for the environment, but you can also use the material to save money on projects that will make your garden look gorgeous for years to come!
Of course, if you’ve never used a compost bin or made your own mulch before, the idea of starting an entirely new project might seem daunting at first. That’s why, in this article, we’ll give you all of the steps you need to transform those old wood chips into useful and creative projects.
Table of Contents
1. Turn Your Wood Chips Into Compost
When many people start gardening, they fall into one common trap; neglecting to compost their plants. While plants can grow well without compost, your flowers will bloom all the brighter because of it. If you’re proud of your tomatoes and cucumbers already, just imagine how much bigger and tastier they’ll be when they have the added nutrients of compost!
To get started making your own compost, you’ll need a compost bin and some worms. You can find compost bins for sale online or, if you’re crafty, you could build your own. Then, you can turn your table scraps and wood chips into nutrient-dense compost, which will work wonders for your garden! When you’re using your wood chipper, you can even throw in grass cuttings, table scraps, and weed along with any wood you don’t need. This will pulverize all of the ingredients into a soft material that is easy for worms to break down. Once you get your compost bin started, you’ll have a steady supply of compost whenever you need it!
2. Use Your Wood Chips as Ground Covering
Even the most involved gardeners can forget to water their plants sometimes, and if your life is busy, you’ve probably noticed your poor flowers wilting under the summer sun. This is yet another way that wood chips can come in handy! By covering your garden beds with a layer of wood chip mulch, the soil will be able to retain more moisture. Without a ground covering, the moisture will evaporate in the heat, leaving your plants parched.
Ground coverings also prevent weeds from growing in your beautiful flower beds. Seeds will find it more difficult to penetrate the layer of wood chips, and any seeds that do manage to get to the soil will not be able to germinate due to a lack of sunlight.
Finally, wood chips protect your plants from the cold, and wood chips naturally decompose. We all love planting flowers as soon as spring arrives, but the weather of early spring is unpredictable at best. A sudden frost can easily kill off your poor plants. Thankfully, a warm layer of wood chips will protect your plants’ roots, which can lessen the chance of them dying.
3. Make Your Wood Chips Into Raised Beds
Have you always wanted to make raised garden beds, but you didn’t want to purchase all of the soil required for the project? Wood chips are the perfect alternative! You can add wood chips as the base of your raised bed, then top it off with soil. The wood chips will decompose over time and will turn into even more soil for your garden. However, it is important to recognize that wood chips are low in nitrogen. Plants require three macronutrients for optimal growth; nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. If the soil is lacking in nitrogen, your plants will suffer. When laying out wood chips for the base of your raised bed, make sure you include other organic matter that is high in nitrogen to compensate.
Keep a close eye on any plants you put into this raised bed, to make sure they are getting enough nitrogen. Signs of nitrogen deficiency in plants include pale or yellow leaves and poor growth. It could be worth investing in fertilizer with a high nitrogen concentration as the wood chips decompose over the years.
Similarly, you can shape mounds out of your wood chips, as well. This is especially useful if you want to grow strawberries, as they grow best on top of mounds. The lower space between the mounds will provide places for the strawberry runners to creep into, which will increase your strawberry yield!
4. Turn Your Wood Chippings Into Mulch
While compost is a great way to provide nutrients to the plants in your garden, it can be a pretty involved process- not to mention the start-up cost. If the idea of managing a compost bin seems too complicated or overwhelming, you can take it down a notch and use mulch, instead. This way, the only thing you need to purchase is a shredder attachment for your wood chipper.
The shredder attachment will make your wood chips softer and more pliable, helping the wood chips to decay and release nutrients into the soil. If you shred table scraps, weeds, and grass clippings along with the wood chips, you’ll have an even richer mulch. Mulch is an excellent alternative to fertilizers, which can be dangerous when they are first laid down, as well as expensive. Do-it-yourself mulch is a much cheaper and safer option.
Mulch is also a great tool to prevent soil erosion. Over time, wind and rain will blow your soil away. Soil erosion is especially pesky if you have a sloping lawn. During heavy rains, your soil will drain away with the water. Soil is expensive, as well as difficult to transport. Using your wood chips as mulch is the perfect way to control soil erosion!
However, it is important to keep in mind that mulch can provide the perfect place for spores and bacteria to grow. If you have plants that are prone to disease, such as tomatoes, mulch might not be the best idea. Because mulch retains moisture, your plants could suffer from rot. Make sure you clear away mulch from the base of every plant. This will give the leaves room to breathe, and prevent diseases and fungi from taking over your garden.
5. Use Your Wood Chips as Garden Paths
When used properly, wood chips make an excellent and cost-effective walkway. You can coat dirt paths with a thick layer of wood chips, which will prevent muddy shoes. It also has a much cleaner look than a simple dirt path, while appearing more rustic than a stone path. Make sure you have a barrier between your wood chip paths and your garden beds. You could use stone, brick, or wood planks as a barrier to prevent soil from crumbling all over your walkway. Ideally, you should use a layer of wood chips about five or six inches thick.
However, keep in mind that wood chips will decompose very quickly. After a year, you will need to fill in your walkway with fresh wood chips, as last year’s batch will have decayed over the winter. If you don’t mind the extra work of redoing your walkways every year, this is a simple and beautiful way to use wood chips. It creates a much more natural feel to any garden, while also acting as an effective barrier between your shoes and the muddy ground.
Similarly, you can spread wood chips in high-traffic areas of your backyard, especially if you have kids. If you have a swing set or playground in your backyard, wood chips are the best way to prevent your kids from coming back inside covered in mud from head to toe! This will also prevent you from losing large amounts of soil. As children run around and play in the same areas, they will exacerbate soil erosion. This can lead to unsightly divots in your yard where soil used to be. By spreading wood chips all over the ground surrounding a swing set or slide, you will prevent your kids from tracking mud into the house, and you’ll prevent soil erosion! However, just like using wood chips for a path, you will need to lay down a new layer every year. It may be time-consuming, but it’s well worth it in the long run!
It’s always good to try and waste as few resources as possible. There are countless ways you can use wood chips without throwing them all away. Wood chips are incredibly useful in the garden as compost, mulch, walkways, and even raised beds! By using your leftover wood chips in different garden projects, you will be sure to have a beautiful and eco-friendly yard.