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Are fresh, untreated wood chips good (and safe) to use for landscaping?

A neighbor had some cedar and other evergreen trees removed from his yard. The tree company that did the job had lots of wood chips when they were done. The foreman offered me a small truckload of them for landscaping purposes. Of course there is a relatively small percentage of bark mixed with the wood chips, and of course a lot of small branches and pine needles. My question: Is it a good idea to use these wood chips for landscaping, to cover our flower beds, like you would use store-bought beauty bark? Or would it possibly cause problems due to rotting, or be a magnet for termites and other nasty little critters? And if those things aren't problems, do you think it would make a good ground-cover? Can you think of any other uses for it? Any advice before I pay to have it hauled away would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!


  1. Throw it in your compost heap for a year. If you use it now, it will leach nitrogen that your plants need out of the soil. You can certainly use it for ground cover. It would look great.
  2. pondlady is right on the button.
  3. Yes, the chips are great for ground cover (or even like a filler in between benderboard with stepping stones). A lot of the ground cover and mulch products you can buy are untreated wood chips. They eventually decompose. Just don't mix them directly into the soil as an amendment without composting them. Also, the pine needles can make the soil a bit acidic.
  4. I get a freshly chipped load every year and use it as I need it. I also use them to grow several varieties of mushrooms in 'bunkers' filled with chips. Any problems with nitrogen are easily taken care of with a soil test. Eventually they decompose into your soil, a good thing. This is the second question this morning about termites and I don't know. Some areas ban them do to fire danger. If you need to get rid of it you can dump them in one of my gardens. RScott
  5. Use them, just add a little extra nitro. If using them around trees leave a little gap space. (you should do this anyway) I have used fresh wood chips many, many times without problem. They break down quickly. They help to loosen the soil and they are attractive. And they do make a great ground cover if you lay cardboard down first. The cardboard helps to keep them from decomposing as fast. Of course they will need to be replenished by the latest new year. The 'relishing factor' will depend on where you live. Don't pay to have them hauled away. If you don't want them run an add in freecycle. Some other thrifty gardener will take them off your hands. :) Hope this helps.
  6. the only place to NOT use fresh chips is IN the soil.... mixed in, they do take the nitrogen out of the soil in order to start their own decompostion.....thus, robbing the plants..... on top of the soil, it's fine, as the little they draw from the surface soil is easily replaced with just some regular fertlizing.....those that I've had that I wanted to use right now, but were a little leary of, like fresh pine , I used in a path for this year and then as mulch the next year... same as composting it for the year, but more useful..... you got a golden opportunity there!!.... CEDAR????.. wow, I'd come take it for ya!!!....I'd use it for my dog's bedding if nothing else!!
  7. I would use it. Even if you use it for compost. The only reservation I would have is that I might not use it in my flower beds next to my house ( because of bugs ). Also, you will want to do something with it quickly as it is new, and it will give off a lot of heat if you leave it in a pile and the smell may attract flies.