We had two large dead trees cut down and a lot of trees trimmed last
week and then ground down into wood chips. Our intention was to
gradually spread the chips around our large garden areas. The tree
cutters left the huge pile of wood chips in an area at the base of three
trees. Yesterday our neighbors, who are really into gardening, informed
us that we had to move the chip pile away from the base of the three
trees quickly, that they would die from suffocation otherwise. Is this
true? If so, how long do we have to move them? Also must we be careful
not to spread the chips too close to our garden plants? Thanks for any
I've heard that it's not safe to change the grade around trees of any size.
You must leave space for their roots to breathe. I suggest you move the
mulch 6' or more from these trees as soon as possible. Fresh chips can rob
plants of nitrate as they decompose. You may want to compost them before
using them for mulch or add blood meal to the soil around the established
You do not want to use fresh chips from trees with a symplast. They need to
compost first due to protoplasm and the attraction of undesirables. Proper
use can be found here.
John A. Keslick, Jr.
Beware of so-called TREE EXPERTS who do not understand TREE BIOLOGY!
Storms, fires, floods, earthquakes, and volcanic eruptions keep reminding us
that we are not the boss.
Some people will buy products they do not understand and not buy books that
will give them understanding.
Cedar chips are the only ones I know of that will not attract termintes into
your yard. I use grass for mulching.
I would let the chips age and then spray them with something that will keep
termites away (unless you are in area that doesnt have to worry aobut them).
Thanks for all the advice. So it sounds like I should move the pile of
wood chips off the base of the trees. I already spread a layer of chips
in some of my flower beds making sure to leave a little breathing space
around each plant. Is it ok to leave it there or will the chips harm
the plants (i.e. must I remove the chip layer)?
I don't think a few would hurt anything, as long as you are aware that the
fresh chips are removing some of the elements (nitrogen, I think) from your
soil and you are making arrangements to replace it for your plants to use.
I'm curious about this too, we just had some brush clearing going on in
our area and we told them they could dump a couple of loads of the chips
in our yard as I wanted some to cover some trails I have hacked through
our treed acreage. Anyway, my wife thought it would be a good idea to
mulch some of the trees we have with them, and yesterday we noticed that
a newly planted mountain ash was showing rusty discolorations on the
tips of its leaves. Now we are wondering if it could be the chips from
the trees, which were mostly black poplar, trembling aspen and some
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