Southeast Gardening forum→Tree-trimmer, ROW Clearing wood chips for mulching/paths????

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Name: Ed
South Alabama (Zone 8b)
Region: Alabama Birds Beekeeper Bee Lover Butterflies Enjoys or suffers hot summers
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Intheswamp
Jun 10, 2020 7:52 PM CST
I posted this over in the Vegetables & Fruit forum but I thought I'd post it here, too. This isn't an over-active forum so I hope it's ok....and being in south Alabama some of ya'll might know something about this. I appreciate your thoughts on the topic!
===

Ok. So what's *one* more thread in the forum, eh? Whistling

I battle a hot sun and lots of weeds in my garden each year. Just can't keep up the weeds them, it seems, and the soil can get mighty thirsty at times. And most of all...I ain't getting any younger (regardless of what I tell my beautiful bride!). Bottom line...mulching has been an issue for me.

I've had problems finding good mulching material. Leaves are great, but ya gotta get them when there available and either store them or put them on the garden....and I usually till them in for the organic matter. About the only other thing around here in abundance is pine straw and debris from logging operations which can be labor intensive. I'd love to have some wheat (I think) but it is a foreign thing around here usually, though on rare occasions I've see it...been a few years, though.

The other stuff that you can find all along is shredded and chipped material from ROW crews clearing brush and limbs from the ROW (Right-of-way) of highways and electricity power lines. I've thought about this many times being as there are usually some crews in the area at one time or another through the year. My concern with this has been the possibility of getting material that is tainted with pesticides. With the way things go for me I'd probably end up putting a truck load of paraquat or something on my garden. D'Oh! So, I've never really pursued that idea.

BUT (there's always a "but" somewhere, eh?....no comments on that, please Hilarious! ).... But, today I stumbled upon a pile of wood cihps....ROW debris. I had went to check on a field road as I thought I heard a motor running down there and I've had a slight problem with younguns deciding it was a good road to tear up when it was wet. Grumbling Well, someone had been in there prior to that last rain but I think it was the got working the hay fields...but nobody today. As I was turning around I spotted something at the edge of the ROW. Nah, couldn't be... Rolling my eyes. .

But, it was. A big pile of wood chips on the edge of our property. Blinking Naturally the rusty wheels in my brain start working. There's enough there that with a lot of work would cover all the paths in my garden and the perimeter.
(Weren't some of us just talking about big piles of stuff and moving it with a wheelbarrow? Hilarious! )

And, of course, it's 135F in the shade now with 125% humidity...perfect weather for shoveling trailer after trailer loads of this stuff!!!!! D'Oh! I got keep in mind how to eat an elephant. Thumbs up

BUT....(there's another one!) But, in the back of my mind I'm thinking about the spraying that they do along the right-of-ways. Smelling of the chips it smelled mostly of pine...which makes sense. There were several dead pines on our property line at the ROW that they cut down and removed....I figured they thought it was only fitting to dump the chips where they did. So, I doubt the chips were sprayed while standing. The other possible problem could be from the big tank truck that menacingly drives up and down the highway slowly spraying a band of pesticide probably 15' wide beside the highway. Unless they *really* pumped it out there this pile of chips *should* be out of range of the tanker-spray-truck.

Should I go for it, do you think? The operation that does this is primarily rigged up for larger trees so I think it's mostly chips, though there could be some shredded stuff at the bottom. I did see a little larger stuff on the far size but for some reason didn't check it out good. I'll go back and look closer tomorrow.

Now, if I do decide to put the labor into retrieving this pile I'm thinking of, as I said earlier, lining my paths and basically going to a semi no-till garden...leaving the paths basically intact from season to season and only working the wide rows. As the mulch decomposes I'll drag some onto the rows and (hopefully) replenish the paths with some fresh chips. It's all a grande plan, but before I do it...should I? Shrug!

Below are a few shots of the pile of chips. My old cap is laying on top of the pile and that knife is four inches long.

So, what do ya'll think?

Thanks for *any* feedback, I need it!!!!
Ed

Thumb of 2020-06-11/Intheswamp/aea933
Thumb of 2020-06-11/Intheswamp/fe0e14
Thumb of 2020-06-11/Intheswamp/c1cdfc

The poorest of the poor, a nation of children taking care of children - https://handsofloveusa.org/
Name: Arlene
Southold, Long Island, NY (Zone 7a)
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Tomato Heads Dahlias Houseplants Garden Ideas: Level 1 Photo Contest Winner: 2014
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pirl
Jun 10, 2020 7:55 PM CST
Go for it!
Name: Ed
South Alabama (Zone 8b)
Region: Alabama Birds Beekeeper Bee Lover Butterflies Enjoys or suffers hot summers
Garden Procrastinator Zinnias Vegetable Grower Seed Starter
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Intheswamp
Jun 10, 2020 9:40 PM CST
Thanks for the feedback, Arlene!!! I just gotta get the energy to get it moved!!! Thumbs up
The poorest of the poor, a nation of children taking care of children - https://handsofloveusa.org/
Name: Larry
Enterprise, Al. 36330 (Zone 8b)
Composter Daylilies Garden Photography Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Garden Ideas: Master Level Plant Identifier
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Seedfork
Jun 11, 2020 6:23 AM CST
I think it would be fine for paths.
Name: Ed
South Alabama (Zone 8b)
Region: Alabama Birds Beekeeper Bee Lover Butterflies Enjoys or suffers hot summers
Garden Procrastinator Zinnias Vegetable Grower Seed Starter
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Intheswamp
Jun 11, 2020 6:43 AM CST
Thumbs up Thanks Larry. I think I've settled my concern about pesticides. The mind is willing...just gotta figure out if the body is able to move it and whether it will still be able to function afterwards!!! nodding
The poorest of the poor, a nation of children taking care of children - https://handsofloveusa.org/
Name: Larry
Enterprise, Al. 36330 (Zone 8b)
Composter Daylilies Garden Photography Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Garden Ideas: Master Level Plant Identifier
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Region: Alabama
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Seedfork
Jun 11, 2020 7:27 AM CST
I was wondering what you would use to move it? I collect grass clippings and leaves with my small Toyota pickup and when collecting piles that are not bagged I use my seed fork, I think that might work well for the wood chips also. Looks like maybe 3 or four pickup truck loads? You can see it in the back of my pick up with a load I collected, I have hauled hundreds of loads like that.
Name: Arlene
Southold, Long Island, NY (Zone 7a)
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Tomato Heads Dahlias Houseplants Garden Ideas: Level 1 Photo Contest Winner: 2014
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
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pirl
Jun 11, 2020 8:50 AM CST
We were older gardeners when we had a big truckload of mulch delivered to the driveway. Never again. It was back-breaking work for both of us.
Name: Ed
South Alabama (Zone 8b)
Region: Alabama Birds Beekeeper Bee Lover Butterflies Enjoys or suffers hot summers
Garden Procrastinator Zinnias Vegetable Grower Seed Starter
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Intheswamp
Jun 11, 2020 8:57 AM CST
I've got a 5-tine pitchfork but that's about it. If I decide to tackle this project I'll have to see how it works. Plan "b" would be to get somebody with a frontend loader to haul it to the house for me...would take a few trips but it's only *maybe* 1/8 of a mile away...probably closer.
The poorest of the poor, a nation of children taking care of children - https://handsofloveusa.org/
Name: Larry
Enterprise, Al. 36330 (Zone 8b)
Composter Daylilies Garden Photography Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Garden Ideas: Master Level Plant Identifier
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Region: Alabama
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Seedfork
Jun 11, 2020 1:46 PM CST
That would be the ideal solution!
Name: Ed
South Alabama (Zone 8b)
Region: Alabama Birds Beekeeper Bee Lover Butterflies Enjoys or suffers hot summers
Garden Procrastinator Zinnias Vegetable Grower Seed Starter
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Intheswamp
Jun 11, 2020 4:44 PM CST
Guess what... I got the front-end loader. Hurray! Hurray! Hurray! Thumbs up Thumbs up Thumbs up nodding

I texted the guy that cuts the hay and asked him if he ever comes over here with a frontend loader on a tractor. Honestly I new he does...counter balance for moving hay rolls. Smiling But, I wanted to see how he felt about it. He asked me what I wanted and I told him I had the pile of chips I wanted moved to my garden. He told me no problem that he'd get it this week for me. Thumbs up Now that's a good young fella right there!!! nodding nodding nodding

Probably didn't want me croaking from shoveling the chips and end up stinking up the place. Hilarious!
The poorest of the poor, a nation of children taking care of children - https://handsofloveusa.org/
Name: Arlene
Southold, Long Island, NY (Zone 7a)
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Tomato Heads Dahlias Houseplants Garden Ideas: Level 1 Photo Contest Winner: 2014
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
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pirl
Jun 11, 2020 6:41 PM CST
Hurrah!
Name: Moggs
Lilburn, GA (Zone 7b)
Bookworm Native Plants and Wildflowers Region: Georgia Birds Butterflies Bee Lover
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mmolyson
Aug 2, 2020 2:03 PM CST
Ed,
I know this is a very late response, but for future reference. Arborist (tree trimmers) are always looking to get rid of a truckload of wood chips. The good news is that it is not from road work, it is from people's properties where they had a tree die, or one had to be taken down, so pesticides are not normally a concern. You can arrange one online at this website: https://getchipdrop.com The woodchips are free, it saves the tree cutters from having to pay to dump them at a landfill. The thing is, you usually have to take the whole load which is 15-20 cubic yards!!!! The Extension Service research says this is the absolute best mulch for slopes because it interlocks and does not wash down if you put it down 4-6 inches thick. That is primarily what I've used it for as well as paths. There is another problem, while it is a great weed suppressor for the weed seed bank already in the soil, obviously need weeds will come along. The new weeds are usually very easy to remove if you put the mulch down thick enough. The exception is oak and hickory seeds. A study out of Rutgers demonstrated that this type of mulch actually accelerates the germination of acorns and hickory nuts because it simulates late-stage forest ecology. Most of these nuts are not more than 30 feet from their parent trees, so if you do not have this type of hardwood close to where you want to lay your paths it should not be a problem. I did not know this at the time I put in my paths and the path by my oak trees looks like a little oak forest. Every time I walk my path I bend over and pull 5 oak seedlings. I figure that maybe in 5 years the path will be clear or I'm just fooling myself! Hilarious!
When You send forth Your Spirit, they are created, and You renew the face of the earth! Psalm 104:30
Port d'Envaux, France (Zone 9a)
A Darwinian gardener
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JBarstool
Aug 2, 2020 2:44 PM CST
I would do it in a Paris minute.
Now that I live in France, it can't be a New York minute, can it?
I find myself most amusing.
Name: Arlene
Southold, Long Island, NY (Zone 7a)
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Tomato Heads Dahlias Houseplants Garden Ideas: Level 1 Photo Contest Winner: 2014
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
Image
pirl
Aug 2, 2020 2:50 PM CST
Not really!
Name: Alice
St. Johns, FL (Zone 9a)
Charter ATP Member Master Gardener: Florida Organic Gardener Enjoys or suffers hot summers Dog Lover Hibiscus
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ardesia
Aug 3, 2020 8:17 AM CST
We used the free mulch for many years and while I never had an acorn issue, in our case as it broke down we had an abundance of stinkhorn mushrooms. These are good things to have as they break down the mulch into compost but boy did they stink up the neighborhood. Whistling Still would do it again if we needed it here - in a Paris minute. Hilarious!
Minds are like parachutes; they work better when they are open.
Name: Tiffany purpleinopp
Opp, AL 🌵🌷⚘🌹🌻 (Zone 8b)
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purpleinopp
Apr 2, 2021 8:29 AM CST
This was an exciting read! It reminds me of one of the greatest days of my gardening life, I'll never forget it. I was watching a guy trim shrubs all around the bank across the street and pile all of this in his pickup truck until it was heaping up higher than the cab. Not hard, woody cuttings, but all soft new growth he was trimming with a an electric hedge shear. I asked if he wouldn't mind dumping that in my yard across the street. He looked at me like I was dangerously disturbed but I convinced him to do it. That was some of the best "mulch" I've ever put on beds!

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karmahappytoes
Apr 2, 2021 8:57 AM CST

Thumb of 2021-04-02/karmahappytoes/30c094

We do this every few years!

Thumb of 2021-04-02/karmahappytoes/8d91e0

This is all that I have left to do of the front yard. Yes, I'm doing this
all by myself and have learned to do what I can each day. Well worth
it and my neighbor did the wood chips from trees being cut and is
dealing with ants and mold.

Name: Ed
South Alabama (Zone 8b)
Region: Alabama Birds Beekeeper Bee Lover Butterflies Enjoys or suffers hot summers
Garden Procrastinator Zinnias Vegetable Grower Seed Starter
Image
Intheswamp
Apr 2, 2021 9:11 AM CST
mmolyson said:Ed,
I know this is a very late response, but for future reference. Arborist (tree trimmers) are always looking to get rid of a truckload of wood chips. The good news is that it is not from road work, it is from people's properties where they had a tree die, or one had to be taken down, so pesticides are not normally a concern. You can arrange one online at this website: https://getchipdrop.com The woodchips are free, it saves the tree cutters from having to pay to dump them at a landfill. The thing is, you usually have to take the whole load which is 15-20 cubic yards!!!! The Extension Service research says this is the absolute best mulch for slopes because it interlocks and does not wash down if you put it down 4-6 inches thick. That is primarily what I've used it for as well as paths. There is another problem, while it is a great weed suppressor for the weed seed bank already in the soil, obviously need weeds will come along. The new weeds are usually very easy to remove if you put the mulch down thick enough. The exception is oak and hickory seeds. A study out of Rutgers demonstrated that this type of mulch actually accelerates the germination of acorns and hickory nuts because it simulates late-stage forest ecology. Most of these nuts are not more than 30 feet from their parent trees, so if you do not have this type of hardwood close to where you want to lay your paths it should not be a problem. I did not know this at the time I put in my paths and the path by my oak trees looks like a little oak forest. Every time I walk my path I bend over and pull 5 oak seedlings. I figure that maybe in 5 years the path will be clear or I'm just fooling myself! Hilarious!

Here's a *very* late "thanks!" for your reply, Moggs. That is indeed some good information and it makes sense...it's creating a forest floor soil ecosystem. I do have three white oaks in close proximity to the garden...probably 40-50 feet away. There's a big field pine between them and the garden...it's probably only 25 or so feet away. I'll keep this in mind when/if I get some wood chips in the paths! Thumbs up
The poorest of the poor, a nation of children taking care of children - https://handsofloveusa.org/
Name: Ed
South Alabama (Zone 8b)
Region: Alabama Birds Beekeeper Bee Lover Butterflies Enjoys or suffers hot summers
Garden Procrastinator Zinnias Vegetable Grower Seed Starter
Image
Intheswamp
Apr 2, 2021 9:14 AM CST
karmahappytoes said:
Thumb of 2021-04-02/karmahappytoes/30c094

We do this every few years!

This is all that I have left to do of the front yard. Yes, I'm doing this
all by myself and have learned to do what I can each day. Well worth
it and my neighbor did the wood chips from trees being cut and is
dealing with ants and mold.

What is it that you're using? Apparently it's not woodchips by your comment about your neighbor. Sawdust?
The poorest of the poor, a nation of children taking care of children - https://handsofloveusa.org/
canada 4b (Zone 8a)
Dirtmechanic
Jul 9, 2021 8:23 PM CST
I believe I would char them. Our soil needs the carbon, and it will hold oxygen real well. Plus it won't dissappear the way mulch does on our clay ao that saves labor. Plus it would be a lot lighter. All the ash and that lot are useful liming agents for us as well.

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