Free wood chips

Noticed a county hwy truck on our road this morning… two of them and some equipment for clearing brush and limbs along the roadway.

Just now after work… could hear them working near my house… wood chipping sounds… quite loud.

They are clearing mostly limbs and brush… a lot of small stuff and chipping it limbs twigs leaves and all shredded up nicely.

I talked to them and they agreed to dump 2 or 3 loads in the edge of my field near the woods.

My lucky day i think ?

Should be quality mulch right ?



Right. And they’re happy to have a place to dump it.

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Even happier to not drive too far with a full load!

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arborist chips are awesome! they have all that greenery in there to help it compost quicker. if the piles start to smoke, knock the pile down some or just put it out under your plantings as is. im just off rt 1 here so my local arborist is always passing by.

. i could get enough mulch to cover my whole property if i wanted. :wink:

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I did the same myself recently. I need a lot. Arborists for the electric company are working in town. So far I’ve gotten three loads.

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Sounds like heaven. Here is the pile I’ve been hauling from the local town waste authority. I get it free, but it’s ten miles away.


@steveb4 and others…

I had to run to town today on my lunch hour… and there were no chips dropped yet. I thought they might have forgotten my request… but when my wife got home around 530… she said my chips had been delivered.

Just walked over and checked them out.

Looks like one load so far to me… i asked for 2 or 3. That pile is approx 6 ft tall x 12 ft wide.

Looks like a really good mix to me… a pretty fine grind and lots of leaves and fine stuff in the mix.

So… how long do you wait b4 you use this for mulch. Early next spring would work for me.



Looks good!

For mulch, I’d use it immediately. Or at least soon. If it’s at all wet / green, it will start to compost. That’s not a tragedy, and it’ll happen eventually. But for a mulch to suppress weeds, I think you’d want to use the chips soon. If the upper layer of what you apply dries out, so much the better. Weed seeds will have no chance.

This is just one novice’s opinion. Maybe an expert will weight in. :slight_smile:


I’m in favor of at least partially decomposing it if you can.

If nothing else, you want to fire off the pile and get it hot enough to kill the weed seeds.

Depends on the composition of the pile, but I would say about 20 pounds of Urea commercial fertilizer should do it.

Probably not that much N left by next spring, but you get an absorbent pile with good things constantly leeching into the soil and few weeds.

To compensate for the water-shedding characteristic of undecomposed wood chips, disproportionately load about 3/4 of your fert on the top half of the pile. Keep it damp, of course.

Thanks all…

I have everything mulched and in good shape now… i may add some of that to some of my (many beds) this fall… and definately will early next spring.

I made 3 trips to Lowes this year for mulch…
Not next year :wink:


If you want free wood chips, just sign up for ChipDrop:

Completely free unless you want to tip the arborist to expedite your order. I’ve had good experiences with them multiple times, with the caveat that they weren’t great about adhering to my requests on specific species.

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@Alex3917 – I think it’s a great idea and I signed up 6 months ago. I have yet to get a delivery so I’ve turned DIY. Maybe the system is more developed in other areas.

can use it anytime just dont mix it in soil as it will rob N. i mulch my plantings as soon as i get my delivery with the tractor then rake out. next spring will be fine.

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its also really good to improve clay soil. if you till it in in the fall with some fertilizer, it will be ready to plant the following spring. i mulch my raised beds in the spring to keep down weeds and hold moisture. in fall i just turn it into the soil. by the next spring they are all broken down.

I plan to mostly use this for mulch… Top dress beds with it.

To me it is ideal if you can mulch in the early spring… keep the weeds down, retain moisture, support a healthy root zone…

And just cover that layer up the next spring with another layer… the old layers turns to compost/soil…

Just like the forest does each fall… add a new layer once a year…and the old ones compost and turn to rich soil.

This looks like it will work well for that.

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It is the best mulch there is. I know i keep repeating this but it is worth knowing: 75% of mineral uptake by trees goes to the leaves and sub 2" branches. As it decomposes all those minerals in readily absorbed form get returned to the soil. Laying it down fresh works great as it promotes in situ full lifecycle decomposition, which promotes the entire range of biota that is conductive to healthy plant life.


@don1357 … most of what I saw the guys feeding into the chipper… was sub 2 inch branches loaded with leaves.


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thats exactly my mindset. ive been doing it for 6yrs now and so far working great. some have commented that putting alot of mulch under fruit trees makes them too vigorous, which makes sense as the woods doesnt put down more than a inch or 2 once leaves and sticks get compacted. my trees and bush fruit are big enough now they shade out the weeds anyway so now i just put a little from the drip line out. pretty much anywhere the sun can hit still. once all my plantings mature in 2-3 more years i wont have a need to mulch

Not really if you pull back on compost and other sources of nitrogen. They are low nitrogen and bacteria requires nitrogen as fuel for the decomposition process. If anything it will suck nitrogen out of that micro system.

You can tell how much nitrogen is available by how quickly the mulch decomposes; low nitrogen slows bacterial decomposition, which is then driven by fungi at a slower rate.

My routine is to pile up/pull whatever mulch is left in the early spring, at that point it is stopping the ground from sucking up sunlight/heating up. Once the soil is warm I mix those leftovers with compost, lay it down, and top it off with 5 inches of fresh green mulch. At this point I want the mulch to actually keep the roots cool By the end of the growing season I need to add more because by then about half has decomposed.

My goal is to create a localized forest floor that is cool, full of life, and constantly creating humus.


i have noticed that in the last couple of years the ground breaks down the mulch much more quickly than when i first first i would put down chic bedding then mulch but once my trees got bigger i stopped doing that and just put down green mulch. if you dig down 3-4in. its all nice black soil full of worms. like in the woods, you have a duff layer.