I’m in love…with arborist wood chips. These are not your beauty barks or other packaged mulches, but the chipped branches and leaves fresh from the tree crews. It’s a great way to keep this resource out of the landfill – and don’t even get me started about using this great mulch material for a “biofuel!”
I’ve written about wood chip mulches a lot, but thought today I would post some photos to show you how well they work in suppressing weeds and promoting growth in restoration sites. We published a paper on this in 2005, though we’ve been using them in ornamental and restoration landscapes for about 10 years.
Here’s a recent project: a wetland buffer enhancement was being installed in an area that was covered in Scot’s broom (Cytisus scoparius) and blackberry (Rubus discolor):
We had a brush cutter mow it to the ground, then put a foot of wood chips down. Later, we planted poplar, ash, willow and alder on the site:
We had to keep records, both written and photographic, for the county who monitors wetland projects. So we took photos every year at the same points for comparative purposes. Here’s what part of the site looked like immediately after planting and then after 5 years:
That’s not to say that we haven’t had to battle resurgent blackberries. They migrate over from the wetland itself (which we can’t touch) and tip root. But the increasing shade and competition from the trees has weakened their ability to take over, and the Scot’s broom has been gone for years.
So that’s one reason I love wood chips. I’ll do a follow up some week showing how they can be used in the home landscape.