Spring Again: Our Fancy Turns Lightly to Woodchips!

The city has been trimming tree limbs away from power lines again. I love the thunder of the industrial strength wood chipper the city drags around the streets to chew up those branches on site! It gives me the opportunity to waylay the utility guys and persuade them to dump a load or two in my driveway. It sure beats driving out to the compost site later in the season and having to load and haul them ourselves. It also saves the tree trimmers the time of driving all the way out to the compost site to drop off each load before they can continue working (win-win).

We will use the wood chips all over our little farm in town! We keep the weeds down along the fence line by the chicken yard and behind the coop and use them to cover paths on the south and north sides of the house. We bank them around our garden tubs in front of the house to camouflage the containers that we can’t sink any deeper into the ground because of the rock ledge underneath them! We spread them in the back border around our fruit trees. As the chips break down, they become nurse beds for all kinds of flowers and trees, which I barter, give away, or sell at garage sales.

Some folks ask me if I don’t get disease and bugs (termites!) in the yard from these chips. I say no, it’s too cold here for termites to be a big problem, although they are a concern a little farther south in the Chicago area. I’ve never had a disease problem either—I do ask whether there is any black walnut in a load because all parts of the tree carry a chemical compound that acts as a natural inhibitor to most other plants. Otherwise, I never look a free load of woodchips in the chipper!

Another great thing about these chips—besides their being free and delivered to my door –is that there is no green stuff in these loads. Unlike the loads I wheedle from tree and landscaping businesses taking down or trimming neighborhood trees in the warmer months, these are pure chips that don’t shrink down or heat up as the leaves decompose.

They are free and pure in other respects as well. They are free of dyes found in the colored chips you buy bagged or have delivered by a landscaper.  One of my neighbors had an entire bed of lupines and the lawn around the bed killed by dyed chips. Also, these chips aren’t made from chopped up pallets that may carry residues from their previous uses.

The only downside of getting chips at this time of year is that the snow often is still on the ground when they arrive. (Our first pile was covered by an unforcasted  five  inches of snow. We woke the morning after delivery to find the snow on the ground and the plows working around our van parked on the street. We moved a lot of chips before our breakfast that morning!)  We have piled them up in other areas of our yard for the time being until things thaw out a little more. It is supposed to hit 60°F later this week, so I expect those chips will be finding their rightful places by the weekend! Begonia

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