WOODCHIP – making friends with your local tree surgeon

There are many fantastic (and free) materials that can be used to great effect around the smallholding and woodchip has to be one of the best. It’s also one of the easiest to get hold of as most tree surgeons or tree maintenance companies will jump at the opportunity of somewhere to dump their leftovers. So you’ll be doing them a favour and they in turn will enthusiastically turn up with as much of this ‘gardening gold’ as you can possibly need.

There are many uses and it comes into its own as a mulch around trees, shrubs and bushes in particular; where it acts as a weed suppressant, encourages earthworms and also helps the soil to keep and retain moisture. Additionally, such a protective layer will also act to protect the soil against heavy rain and subsequent run off and erosion…so it really is very useful indeed.

Woodchip can be added (as a brown layer) to your compost pile
Woodchip can be added (as a brown layer) to your compost pile

The idea that woodchip will rob your soil of nitrogen making it too acidic only really counts if you mix it into your soil. Layered on top around hardier perennials it only provides benefit and looks nice. The only thing to be mindful of is that it’s good to allow a space immediately around the trunk of trees

Woodchip can also be made into an excellent propagation compost when left to rot down for a couple of years. It can also be mixed into your compost pile, used in pathways, and perhaps most excitingly of all used to grow mushrooms in. For the latter King Stropharia (also known as garden giant or wine cap) love woodchip or straw as do oyster mushrooms and when you consider that the ancient Egyptians believed mushrooms brought about long life, I’d say that’s a good excuse as any to track down your local tree surgeon as soon as you possibly can…

A version of this article first appeared in the July issue of Country Smallholding magazine…

Scroll to Top