Mulch can be really useful material in your garden. It keeps the moisture in the ground, prevents weed growth and maintains the soil’s temperature. It also reduces soil erosion and makes it richer and more fertile. Mulch is great for use in the vegetable garden.
There are two ways in which you can obtain mulch-by buying it from a tree cutting service or some other merchant or making it all by yourself. The second option is the cheaper one and it involves using a wood chipper. If you are interested in buying a wood chipper you should read my review about the best chipper shredder for home use.
Woodchip mulch basics
In order to be able to produce high-quality mulch, the first thing you should do is to obtain all the necessary materials. The first step you should take is to gather all the materials needed for making the mulch. The ideal time of year in which you can start your mulch collecting campaign is autumn when leaves are abundant. Nevertheless, if you have the wish, you can start anytime.
There are several mulch ingredients which you can start collecting from your yard:
- Grass clippings
- Wood chips
- Twigs& branches
- Tree bark
- Lumber shavings-these shouldn’t come from chemically treated lumber
- Pine needles (should not be used in great quantity because they are acidic)
- Farm waste
- Chopped hay or straw
As long as you have gathered these materials, the second step is to process them through a wood chipper to make mulch. For that purpose, you could buy or simply rent a wood chipper. Smaller portable models of wood chippers are capable of grinding branches of up to 2” or 3 “in diameter. For the larger limbs of up to 6” in diameter, you will have to rent a bigger model which is pulled on a trailer. That is why you will need a vehicle with a trailer hitch to be able to bring the chipper home. If you have tree trunks to grind, that will require using a large industrial chipper. So for bigger jobs, you may have to consider hiring a landscape or tree trimming company. The wood chips shredder usually comes with specific instructions. Nevertheless, the whole process involves simply feeding wood and yard debris into the hopper and then watching them roll out at the other end.
If you are pruning or trimming trees you may want to use a chainsaw. You can check out my review of the best homeowner chainsaw here.
There are also a few tips which you should take into account when chipping branches and other tree debris:
Chippers differ by the maximum diameter of wood they can shred. That is why you should be sure that you have the right type of shredder for your job
Wood chip mulch:
If you want to produce a uniform wood chip mulch, you should remove the leaves and other twiggy material
Leaves and clippings
To achieve maximum recycling power you should mingle grass clippings and leaves for mulch which will decompose into compost.
If you want to produce a finer mulch it is advised to shovel the wood chips into the chipper for the second time. When purchasing mulch from a professional mulch yard, you will usually have the option to choose between single-ground, double-ground, or even triple-ground mulch.
To improve the smell of your mulch, you should buy a bag or two of cedar chips and apply them to the mixture during the second grinding
At first wood chips will start out as light coloured when they roll from the wood chipper. During the time, they will become gradually darker.
When using shredder or chipper, you should make sure that you follow these safety instructions:
- Keep a safe distance: Safety tips for operating a wood chipper are more than clear that you should stay away from the machine at a respectable distance while it is operational.
- Protect eyes and hands: You should wear safety glasses and gloves all the time when you operate the machine
- Use wooden tools: Experts advise NEVER use your hands to push material into the hopper. Instead of that you may use forked stick or old broom handle
- Take it slow: In order to be able to avoid jams in the machine, you should put small amounts of material in it. If it accidentally jams and something gets stuck in the hopper, you should turn it off and then use a pole or rake handle to get it loose again.
- Remove excess: On certain periods of time, you should drive away the mulch to prevent it from piling up and causing overheat of the machine.
- Turn it off: When clearing jams, be sure to always unplug the chipper from the electricity grid.
What to do with the newly produced mulch?
Pile it up:
Simply make a huge pile of the newly produced wood chips and other materials. It is preferable to keep the pile contained using some kind of fencing material such as chicken wire or wooden or plastic fence
Stir it up:
Every now and then, when you add material to the pile, you should stir it or mix it in order to ensure the even distribution of the various ingredients and prevent matting and clumping of the leaves and the other materials.
Cover it up:
Use a large sheet of inexpensive plastic to cover your mulch heap. By this way, you will be sure that the moisture and heat in the heap are retained, which will speed up the decomposition of the mulch material.To make sure that the cover stays in its place you can secure it using bricks or rocks.
Spread it around:
After a certain period of time, your homemade mulch will become darker and gradually will transform itself into crumbly organic material that will be great for your garden. You can use the mixture immediately in your garden as long as it is ready for use.In fact, the more time it stays outdoors the more beneficial it will become for the plants in your garden!
There are some other things that you can do with it check out my article What to do with wood chips from a wood chipper.
As you have seen from this article, the production of mulch from wood chips is not a complicated process at all. If you have all the necessary knowledge, and expertise it wouldn’t be difficult to produce wood chip mulch all by yourself instead of buying it from a third-party supplier, saving you by this way a lot of money.
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