Sunday, November 5, 2017


I have a huge pile of wood chips!

This is great news. Also the cause of many aching muscles, but the Wheelbarrow Fitness Program will have all sorts of benefits. I got the idea of using wood chips to solve (or at least mitigate) my invasive weed problem back in the spring when two things happened: one, we had to take down a small tree (a dying holly) and made a deal with an arborist that (I thought) included us getting the chips. It didn't - he took them away with the promise of bringing a load later, and never did despite a reminder.

Secondly, I'd been turned on to the promise of wood chip mulch by The Garden Professors after joining their Facebook group (look under The Garden Professors Blog). Linda Chalker-Scott, who has a great Horticultural Myths website, is the biggest proponent of using wood chips as a weed-control mulch that degrades slowly into rich soil, absorbs water much better than bark-based mulches, and can cost practically nothing. (If you're going to object based on ideas about nitrogen snatching, acidification, or other purported issues with fresh wood chips, read the link first.)

So I just had to get the chips. I ended up signing up with ChipDrop, which is an online service that links customers who want chips with arborists who want to get rid of them. Read all the information about how it works if you're interested - it's not going to be perfect for everybody. You won't necessarily be notified before a drop - I got an email a few hours ahead, but that's not guaranteed - so you need to have your dump spot accessible all the time. And it will likely be a LOT of chips. You can also end up waiting a long time. The first time I signed up I waited three weeks with no drop, took myself off the list for a while, and then jumped back on when we had a storm go through - figured there'd finally be some trees down, and yes, I only had to wait a few days that time. I paid $40 because that gave me a better chance of getting a drop, but you can also pay less or nothing at all.

I've been mowing and otherwise clearing out areas in the Way Back infested with Japanese stilt grass and various vines, and lugging loads of chips for dumping in a thick layer. I may have to get another load in the spring, and I'm sure I won't eliminate all the problems, but this is a good way to get a fresh(ish) start. After the chips degrade I can put down grass seed (probably next fall); planting shrubs, trees, and perennials can happen as early as the spring. And though many perennial weeds will erupt even through six inches or more of mulch, at least they'll be easy to spot. Annual weed seeds should be well-smothered. I'm hoping the effect will be worth the small fee and the arm, leg, and core toning.

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