Wood chips / compost

Free wood chips are everywhere this time of year. I never miss the opportunity to mulch my trees while I have the chance. In July I would assume those wood chips will be all that’s keeping my moisture from evaporating. I always assume there is lots of trace minerals in those wood chips when they finally break down. What are you doing to help your trees along?

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My acquaintance also uses wood chips in his orchard; he inoculates and grows wine cap mushrooms in the wood chips.


That’s a great idea Mika. I’m familiar with morels and hen of the woods etc. But have never harvested that variety. I will be adding some endo mycorrhizae just under the chips in the soil this year. I have a container in my hand now made by rootnaturally.com. It makes sense to use mushroom spores. Would you ask him where to get the starters?

I’m going to use woodchips, shredded wood and bales of hay, depending on the situation. Woodchips also contain huge amounts of potassium and increase a trees access to what is already there and release plenty of phosphorus as well.

Chips of smaller wood can even have a relatively high amount of N. So it’s more than the micros.

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My thought has always been that people have heavily farmed the top 3 feet of earth and extracted most nutrients from it. A tree that is 30 feet tall got it’s nutrients from the deep parts of the earth where there are many rich minerals. When we chip those large trees up undoubtedly those nutrients are there for our smaller trees to use. Leaves contain many nutrients such as calcium as well. Blossom end rot in tomatoes is caused by a lack of calcium and a heavy mulch of oak leaves will add that calcium back to the soil. Alan I did not realize they contained nitrogen but that makes sense. Another thing I’ve noticed is garden fungi vs. orchard fungi are very different. Wood chips encourage the right fungi for healthy trees. I am careful not to use to many wood chips on the garden because more than using them once in awhile can cause more harm than good. Grass does seem good for all things.

Wood chips always contain a certain amount of N, but usually have a very low ratio of it compared to carbohydrate and so bacteria will even pull N out of the soil surface to extract what they need along with all that “sugar”. But other species pull N out of the atmosphere and tend to dominate after a period of time.

By around the 10th year of mulching with big wood mulch you can even create a soil that becomes excessively invigorating for the production of the best fruit if you can’t steer N (or is it water?) intake by cutting back irrigation.

I don’t know if this is because of the N that is bleeding out of the humus or just from the increasing access to easily extracted water or both. That part hasn’t been adequately studied- what has been observed is the excessive vigor.

Grow Comfrey!
Get Bocking 14 that is sterile and doesn’t spead.
It grows like wildfire and you can frequently cut it down and use as mulch.
More nutrients than manure or compost, or so I’ve read.

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Starting to see large piles of wood chips again and plan to add some around my trees again soon to counteract the lack of moisture. Most power companies and tree trimming companies will give them to you for free!

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Either here or on the former Garden Web, someone posted a link to a site that was sort of an exchange for wood chips. You would enter your location and tree services needing to get rid of their chips would deliver them to you in lieu of (presumably) paying to dump them.

I could not find the link to that site. Does anyone recall the name or know the link?

Thanks in advance.



Terrific. Thank you, @bleedingdirt .

Any experience with getting wood chips through it?

Nope, no direct experience. When I took out 3 Poplar trees, the arborist chipped them up and gave me an 8 yard load. I need to refill next year.

Before you use wood chips for tree mulch do you let them sit a period or can I use freshly chipped wood right away? Since I would not incorporate them into the soil I doubt they’d tie up N in the soil… Does that sound right?

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I’ve used them fresh with no problems that are noticeable. Brady


I age them in compost typically to try to get them hot enough to counter disease. If you know the tree was disease free no problem.

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Here disease in uncomposted chips has never been a problem that I’ve heard of- and word gets around between landscape contractors. There are many plants in the northeast that convert fresh wood chips into shredded wood mulch and sell tons of it to landscapers that haul it away to mulch not only trees but perennial flower beds with it, some of it has time to age, some doesn’t so disease issues have to be very rare HERE.

Tying up N is seems only to become a problem in excessively wet soils where most functioning root is near the soils surface. It is something easily rectified with supplementary N.

It is possible where you are that there is a disease to be concerned about spreading through the use of fresh wood chips and if you aren’t sure you could contact your cooperative extension. They should be aware of any such issues in your state.


I like wood chips.
But I know I have imported some weed pests with them when using fresh.

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I’ve used chipdrop.in It took a long time before I got my first load, but I did eventually get 2 or 3. Quality varies, but all were usable for me out in a rural area.

Last year I got some pretty good slime molds. This year I didn’t notice much of that.

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We get chips by shoveling them from piles utility crews leave in ditches…this year I tried using them to fill in gully washes in the new yard. We seeded the same piles with stropharia spawn, just picked a few today.

New yard, but stropharia are sooooo easy to grow; hoping to get a bunch of wood chips again next year and use them to seed entire rows of raspberries. Berries and mushrooms.


I don’t think this should be a problem with wood chips because nothing with seeds would routinely be put in a chipper. Sweet Peat might carry seeds from hay fed to horses (although it is supposed to be stirred enough to cook them in the hot piles) but the only seeds in wood chips would be from trees cut during the short time they are holding viable seeds, and tree seeds aren’t usually very invasive.

Weed seeds usually can endure a long stint in a pile that doesn’t reach levels of high heat and are stirred, so aging wood chips probably wouldn’t do a great job of killing seeds anyway.