What would you do with an endless supply of wood chips?

A friend owns the company that maintains power lines in our area and has several crews. Their route home passes my house. My cousin heads the crews. He’s said I can have all the wood chips I can handle. I haven’t had easily accessible room on my place (40ac) until this week as we’ve finished clearing ~2ac of 15yo pines up near the road. I have a circle drive and they can pull through and dump. I have a tractor with fel and a skid steer. I need a dump trailer to transport them down the 15ft bluff to my other orchard and large garden site.

Looking for any and all possible uses I may not have thought of.

Current thoughts:

  1. Continue to add as mulch to present raised (1ft above ground) beds
  2. Haul down bluff and back to new (1-2yrs old) orchard for mulch (for a few years, then transition to grasses)
  3. Pile over cardboard between big garden rows for weed control and till in after Fall. (Soil there is very sandy with gravel and needs organic matter badly. It drains fast and dries quickly)
  4. Spread in rows in the newly cleared area (some decent topsoil with gray clay beneath) to prepare for future fruit tree/bush plantings.
  5. Make piles for compost? Not really sure what all this would entail.
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compost them and mulching acid loving plant. Add nitrogen.


Grow mushrooms


lazy mushroom growing by tossing some stropharia and oyster in some piles.


Around here the “free” wood chips often contain eucalyptus (a phytotoxin) and/or roadside trimmings with pests and diseases. So I pass on it.

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Make about 3X more compost than you think you will need. You will find a use.

I’m not organic so I freely use Urea to compost wood chips. Doing that (assuming you achieve high heat) will kill almost all the bad stuff.

I don’t know about the allelopathic stuff Richard mentions. I assume that that dissolves over time. But how long?

Having a surplus of compost is pretty nice. I’m using stuff that I started over a year ago. Good and aged. I don’t have to economize or make compost tea.

I had mine tested a few years ago so now I spike my pile with low-buck micronutrients (1/2 on one side of the pile about halfway through the decomposition process; turn the pile over and add the other half.) I try and bring it up to “rich loam” status rather than make it a vitamin pill for plants.

If you have access to enough chicken manure you can do it organically (except for the micronutrient part.)

Gets real acid, but you can control that when you use it or through the addition of fireplace ashes.


Endless supply? I’d build a paper mill…and make some of that $1 - a - roll toilet paper and get rich!


If you want to make a lot of compost in less time then look into Aerated Static Pile composting (ASP). If you have access to scraps of HDPE conduit tubing leftover from the horizontal boring they do for underground telecom pulls then that is a durable method to pipe the air through the bottom of the pile.


We have a PTO chipper for the tractor, and in 2017 I got a windfall amount of chips from a county road project. As that finished up we completed clearing the orchard site and I moved all of those chip piles to the existing “chip mountain” and at the house we had a chip pile at the mill site and another at the lower garden. I’ve mulched all of the ornamental beds and fruit trees around the house, the stool bed at the lower garden, and of course the orchard trees. As chip mountain at the orchard has started to shrink as I mulch the orchard the county has started dumping chips there again. I’ve got a small pile left at the mill site to use up on my ornamental beds around the house. At the orchard I’m working on mulching the new trees and then I’ll start the second application on the original trees. I was concerned about reapplying mulch as things settled and rotted, but since the county is willing to dump more there I’m happy as can be. I think they like that they can see what the chips are being used for.


Paper Mill 25mi away gets all the pine trees in the area.

However, I do get scrap heavy brown paper rolls from time to time. Thick heavy stuff is perfect under chips to smother weeds. Breaks down in a few months.

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So you just have a big pile and use as needed?

Yes, I try to use the oldest stuff as the need comes up. Between our use of our own chipper and the county dumping at the orchard site I’ve maintained a pretty big pile. This video shows how I used them at the orchard and the size of the pile, as well as the original rows that need to be mulched again. I really like them at the house for the ornamental bed.
Fall Progress at the Orchard - YouTube


If you are spreading wood chips en masse, this is a really cool attachment for a tractor that @DroppingFruit shared with us.


Yes, that would be amazing! I’m filling the dump trailer with the tractor loader and then unloading with what I call a grain shovel, here I am in action: Mulching Apple Trees #shorts - YouTube

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I used to load wood chips into my garden cart with a 5 tine hay-type pitchfork. I now simply rake them into the garden cart with a 4 tine long-handled hand cultivator.


If you placed the cart under the edge of your trailer you could very quickly fill it and save yourself some effort over using the shovel method, at least until you buy or build that tractor implement.

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In the past I used two manure buckets, rigid plastic with two nylon rope handles for cleaning horse stalls, but my back got tired of lugging those back and forth, so I just do it with the grain shovel now. The key to working with the grain shovel is the smooth flat bottom of the dump trailer which allows the shovel to slip under the chips. As I empty the trailer I can raise the bed and bring the chips to the back of the trailer. I can do 3 full loads a day, occasionally 4, before I’m whooped.

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I have a steep incline in the back of my property followed by a flat area. It could take a few years of their output. I would then figure out a way to add a ton of nitrogen to it, maybe check to see if there is a chicken farm nearby.

But mostly it would be “keep dumping it there by the truck load to your heart’s content”.

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It sounds as if you can put the chips all to good use just about anywhere, but the sandy area would benefit the most. On a somewhat more adventurous note, I’ve read that a big pile of fresh chips will produce enough heat over a year or two that you can use it to produce hot water. Seems like a bit of work, but running a length of flexible pipe through a pile would start an interesting experiment.

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Two years ago I started taking deliveries of wood chips from local arborists. It’s mostly oak with some maple, black locust, white pine, cedar and other odds and ends. The supply is practically unlimited and I’ve taken at least a dozen loads.

So far I’ve used it mainly as mulch. All of my apples, pears, persimmons and berries now have at least a 6" layer. Weeds are a thing of the past. The chips also seem to discourage voles, which used to nest in the grass and weeds.

I’ve also used chips to grow mushrooms, specifically Stropharia. Inoculated in September, the chips produced a huge crop in April / May. It was way more than I could ever use and honestly I wasn’t crazy about the taste. But the chips were reduced to soil (or something very soli-like) in ~2 years.

It was a challenge convincing the arborists that I actually wanted so much. Evidently their usual experience is that a homeowner asks for a load but then is surprised at the big pile in his driveway and demands that it be removed. One guy just stopped delivering after 3 loads. I ended up using a traffic cone as a signal – “If the cone is visible, you can dump there.”

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