The ultimate free composted woodchips

by - March 03, 2015

A year and a half ago, a local tree company delivered a truckload of fresh woodchips at the top of our driveway. We played on our mini mountain for a week or so before spreading it out. Joe has been parking on the flattened pile, but noticed that they have softened up, evidenced by his tires spinning out this past weekend. Now, the woodchips are perfection for the garden, if we don't mind the potential for truck drippings in the mix. If you are interested in using wood chips on your garden, here are some things to consider.

1. Many local tree companies end up with loads and loads of woodchips that they would much rather give away to nearby residents than pay to haul them somewhere else.

2. Many of these tree companies have online signup forms to get a free delivery when they are working in your area. You want get to specify how much, so be prepared for a mountain.

3. These wood chips will be fresh and not color treated. You obviously don't get to choose the blend you get, so there could be hardwoods or pine, and there will probably be some leaves in there.

4. Make sure you give the company good directions to your house. The house being flipped down the road from us ended up with our free load last winter.

5. It takes 6 months to a 1 years for the wood chips to have beneficial use for your vegetable garden as they will take up available nitrogen as they decompose. The places where I spread fresh wood chips grew nothing - not weeds, not veggies.

6. If you like the ease of picking up bags at a store and dumping them over the garden, this is not the best option for you. There is the initial labor of spreading out your fresh pile, and then the followup labor of moving it where you want it. I spent a few hours yesterday filling up a garbage can and hauling it back and forth from the front yard to the back yard.

My struggle is always finding the right window of time to build up the beds with new compost and mulch. I like to let spinach, carrots, garlic and onion grow over the winter, so I have to try to avoid those little patches as I'm dumping out the loads.

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