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Old 05-21-2009, 07:54 AM
Status: "Welcome to N.C. Set clock back 50 years." (set 23 days ago)
 
Location: Chapel Hill, N.C.
24,375 posts, read 15,455,896 times
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Default Will fresh wood chips damage my plants?

I've made friends with the driver of the tree cutting service around my Chapel Hill. N.C. home. He has delivered two huge truck loads of freshly ground chips from recent hardwood removal projects. I want to use them as mulch but wondered if putting fresh -non composted- wood chips would damage my plants. I'm putting them at least 2 feet from the stem of alazeas, hydrangeas, other woody shrubs. How long will it take for them to turn black like the hardwood mulch you have to pay for? If I just let the pile - about 8 to 10 feet tall already-will it start composing on its own? Any suggestions. He is willing to keep delivering these chips and I can use alot of mulch in my woods. He even said I don't have to cut down the weeds- just put the mulch down and it would kill them. That is what started me thinking the chips might damage my plants.
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Old 05-21-2009, 08:21 AM
 
2,256 posts, read 3,393,506 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by no kudzu View Post
I've made friends with the driver of the tree cutting service around my Chapel Hill. N.C. home. He has delivered two huge truck loads of freshly ground chips from recent hardwood removal projects. I want to use them as mulch but wondered if putting fresh -non composted- wood chips would damage my plants. I'm putting them at least 2 feet from the stem of alazeas, hydrangeas, other woody shrubs. How long will it take for them to turn black like the hardwood mulch you have to pay for? If I just let the pile - about 8 to 10 feet tall already-will it start composing on its own? Any suggestions. He is willing to keep delivering these chips and I can use alot of mulch in my woods. He even said I don't have to cut down the weeds- just put the mulch down and it would kill them. That is what started me thinking the chips might damage my plants.
Not if you just lay them on top of the soil as a mulch. But if you did them into the soil as you would with already broken down compost, then the bacterial that breaks down the fresh wood chips will out-compete your plants for the available nitrogen for accomplishing this purpose. Jusy lay them on top of the soil only as a protective mulch. DO NOT dig them down into the soil as a soil amendment.
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Old 05-21-2009, 01:56 PM
 
Location: The mountians of Northern California.
1,357 posts, read 3,972,709 times
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Wow you are lucky! Wood chips do help keep the weeds out and keep the ground underneath moist. If you put down plastic, then the wood chips, you have a better chance of keeping out all the weeds.
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Old 05-21-2009, 02:07 PM
 
Location: Albemarle, NC
7,730 posts, read 8,542,673 times
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The wood chips will smother the weeds that are there and help keep new ones from germinating. Like bluepacific said, don't dig them in, just lay them on top. I would also take this time to fertilize your azaleas. HollyTone makes a great fertilizer. It'll add nitrogen back in case the chips do start to deplete the soil.

Some hardwood mulch has color added to it. Your chips will probably never turn dark brown until they become dirt.
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Old 05-21-2009, 08:11 PM
Status: "Welcome to N.C. Set clock back 50 years." (set 23 days ago)
 
Location: Chapel Hill, N.C.
24,375 posts, read 15,455,896 times
Reputation: 29453
Thanks guys- I was just gonna lay them down as mulch and not till them in as soil admentments. The only think I don't like about them is the light color but hey the price is right----so glad we have the room to store them on our property and the kids love playing king of the mountain on them. We are quite popular right now....
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Old 05-22-2009, 03:30 PM
 
Location: Right where I want to be.
4,508 posts, read 5,217,533 times
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We've gotten loads of wood chips before and have been told to let the pile sit for 3-6 months before using it as mulch. The pile will get nice and steamy but it won't completely compost that fast. Our wood chips have never really gotten dark brown like the regular mulch but we like it all the same. I'll call around and get a few loads delivered late summer/early fall and the pile is ready to use by spring. We have a lot of ground to cover and would spend $700+ per year if we purchased mulch so this is easy on the budget...we just always have a pile of mulch sitting.
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Old 05-24-2009, 07:58 AM
 
Location: ROTTWEILER & LAB LAND (HEAVEN)
2,400 posts, read 2,994,019 times
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Just last week I saw dark blue, medium blue & hunter green mulch. I'm guessing that's a rubber mulch, which you shouldn't use if you have pets.
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Old 05-25-2009, 08:40 AM
 
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Don't use the fresh wood mulch unless you want termites!
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Old 05-28-2009, 04:55 AM
 
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What about cedar shavings as mulch? You can get big bags at pet stores and a bag should cover a few rhododendron or azaleas. Cedar is insect resistant as well. I have a guinea pig and often thought about " recycling" his used cage litter that way.
Do people still use cocoa shell mulch? I bought a bag and used it and liked the smell and it seemed to break down over time pretty well. But then it rained and it was all covered in gray mold and I worried about it harming the shrubs. It didn't but now nobody sells it anymore.
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Old 05-28-2009, 06:37 AM
 
Location: Right where I want to be.
4,508 posts, read 5,217,533 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Icy Tea View Post
What about cedar shavings as mulch? You can get big bags at pet stores and a bag should cover a few rhododendron or azaleas. Cedar is insect resistant as well. I have a guinea pig and often thought about " recycling" his used cage litter that way.
Do people still use cocoa shell mulch? I bought a bag and used it and liked the smell and it seemed to break down over time pretty well. But then it rained and it was all covered in gray mold and I worried about it harming the shrubs. It didn't but now nobody sells it anymore.
A couple of things here....first, cedar isn't good for guinea pigs. Check some guinea pig websites for a safer bedding.

Sure, you can use the spent bedding as mulch but it will degrade rather quickly, much more so than the chunkier mulch that is intended for that purpose. It is also fine to add into a compost pile.

I haven't seen the cocoa mulch around lately. Home Depot used to carry it, you could call and ask them. If you like the smell but are concerned about the mold you could just get a few bags and mix it in with your regular mulch.
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