July 10, 2009

DIY Mulch

You may recall that I mentioned in this post, that the property was very overgrown when we got here. We've worked hard to clear some of it out, and the result has been an ever-growing pile of branches, sticks, vines, and leaves.

The yard "before&quot.As the pile grew, so did the problem of what to do with it. We could:

A. Leave it for the birds, chipmunks, snakes, mice, rats, cock roaches, and insects to inhabit.
B. Take it to the landfill, where the county will grind it into mulch to give away for free on a first come first served basis.
C. Hire someone to come and chip it for us.
D. Rent one of these .....

Rented shredder/chipper..... and do the job ourselves......

In actionThe lighter weight shredded leaves blew farther, and are on the right side of the pile. The heavier wood chips fell closer to the chipper and so are on the left. This is handy because I would prefer to use the leaf mulch on the vegetable garden, and the wood chips for other things.

The wood chips are a mixture of old wood and green, so this presents some considerations for using it. Firstly, the green wood will produce heat as it decomposes, and may become too warm for plants it's mulching. Secondly, decomposition requires nitrogen, which means that fresh mulch can tie up the available nitrogen in the soil leaving none for the plants. Obviously aged mulch is best.

The yard "after".At $145 a day to rent the chipper, I'm not sure we got our money's worth in terms of the amount of mulch we ended up with. But we got the yard cleared of that unsightly pile, and I do have two nice piles of mulch, which I'm grateful for.

Since there is a lot more to clear, we will have to face the same problem again soon. The larger branches we can use as firewood, but all the twigs, leaves, and vines will be an ongoing problem. Maybe I should add a small, 2nd-hand shredder to my Wish List.


MiniKat said...

Very efficient. I think getting the work done, keeping stuff out of landfills, and having a ready supply of mulch would be worth the price. I hope it was for you. :-)

Theresa said...

The yard looks great. I love mulch, sadly, we use very little up here due to fire danger and of course, everything that would need to be mulched is eaten by deer anyway!
I'll bet you two are still tickled pink every morning you wake up in your own house.

Renee Nefe said...

sounds like you need to let your new mulch become old mulch somewhere. I've been using all our old wood for firewood...unfortunately we haven't had much chance for fires lately as it has been too windy. But sometime this summer that is supposed to quit. LOL! I just hope it ends before we go camping.

bspinner said...

Good choice. It may have cost you $145 but I think you've gotten a lot for your money. Some mulch, branches and etc cleaned up, and NOT paying to dump it in a land fill.

Leigh said...

Happily, that big pile in the picture is producing almost no heat. There must have been enough dead wood and leaves in there to not need decomposition.

One good thing about our county landfill, is that all "yard waste" is shredded at the landfill as mulch and given away to the public for free. It's always been gone when we've been there, so this is obviously a popular feature. I couldn't wait for any to become available, so I'm glad we did this to have our own!

Sharon said...

Why not let the pile get bigger next time? Then you will get your money's worth. I always think of the movie Fargo when I hear wood chipper. Only put put wood in it!

Dorothy said...

Wow that's a mighty muncher machine. We have a little one that tucks in the garden shed. Wonderful resource though, having your own woodchip.

People don't realise you need to grow healthy soil if you want to grow good plants, I guess soil doesn't photograph well for the gardening magazines ;)