Using Wood Chips From Tree Companies

Discussion in 'Survival and Sustainability' started by Adfundum, Nov 29, 2019.

  1. Adfundum

    Adfundum Moderator Staff Member Donor

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    Mine is lawn, but there are a lot of trees and shrubs that are part of large mulched areas. The original plan for the mulched areas was to reduce mowing; however, it's been rough getting things to establish because of the clay soil. Part of that is because it takes about 150 ft of hose to get water to some areas (file this under 'too lazy to reel it in and out on hot days and don't want to pump the well dry'). Those hot and dry spells in the summer can make it tough to keep the soil moist. I usually wait until there is an obvious sign that things need water, but with some of those plants, the time between first signs and death is very short. But I do plant a few vegetables in those areas.

    Making a nice place for earthworms is definitely on my mind. In the places where I see worms, there is a noticeable difference in the soil. It's just that the organic material is only present in the first inch or two of ground. It is getting deeper over time, but this area was a poorly managed farm until is was no longer producing much at all. It's come a long way since then, but I'm getting older and a bit impatient.
     
  2. vman12

    vman12 Well-Known Member Past Donor

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    Clay, even heavy clay, is not inherently a bad soil to grow things in.

    If it's for your lawn....first things first....get a good soil PH test kit. Not one of those cheesy ones either. You could have someone test it for you as well.

    If the PH is too low or too high you'll have a hard time getting grass to grow.

    Once you know that, and balance out the PH for grass, I'd core aerate the crap out of it and power rake it to make sure you don't have thatch buildup issues.

    Does the lawn feel spongy when you walk on the areas that have grass?

    Believe it or not, one of the things that works really great for loosening up your soil is.....soap. Yes I know that sounds ridiculous, but it helps keep the clay particles from clumping together into concrete.



    There are also a number of commercial products out there known as "liquid soil aerators" you can use to help condition the soil.

     
  3. Adfundum

    Adfundum Moderator Staff Member Donor

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    There is a UNC County Extension service that will test the soil if I bring it in to them. They say the soil, overall, is slightly acidic. I have not taken any samples to them to test, but it might be a good idea. They also told me that clay holds on to minerals and nutrients quite well, so it's not all bad.

    I've done both the core aerating and dethatching several times. Not that it didn't have some positive effect, but I didn't notice much difference. As far as I can tell, the idea of deep roots, more soil organics, and a healthy worm population is the key to rebuilding this soil. The aerating and dethatching will most likely have a positive effect in time, so I'll keep doing that.

    As far as spongy soil, in the summer there is no sponginess at all. We've had quite a bit of rain this winter, and the soil is quite spongy now. My take on that is the clay gets spongy when wet.
     
  4. vman12

    vman12 Well-Known Member Past Donor

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    Sounds good.

    Long term fix I'd keep dumping in organic materials.

    Short term I'd look into liquid soil aeration products. They work quite well.

    When I bought my most recent place i had a horrible thatch build up and soil compaction issue that wiped out my lawn in large patches.

    The liquid aeration (after I cleared out the thatch) worked wonders.
     
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  5. Collateral Damage

    Collateral Damage Well-Known Member

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    Earth worms are a soil's best friend. I vermi-compost to get the castings for a natural fertilizer, which also recycles my veggie scraps and shredded paper, coffee grounds and such, then have a 'Freedom Party' at the end of the summer and release the worms (Red wigglers are best) in my veggie beds for them to do some more work and hibernate over the winter.

    Gypsum is also very good for breaking down clay soil, but can get very expensive if you are doing large areas.
     
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  6. 557

    557 Well-Known Member

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    In my area annual rye grass is the most common cover crop. I use it extensively on corn ground after silage harvest and on early harvested soybean acres. It maintains biological activity in the soul over winter and is actually very good at lessening compaction by itself. It has a massive root system that sequesters a lot of carbon even if the plant/grain is completely harvested. We graze most of it in the spring, but left to its own devices it will get head high by mid spring when it heads out.

    Annual rye will really re-seed itself well if you allow it to go to seed. If you lightly work the ground (even a good harrowing will do) in August or so, you will never have to sow new seed again.

    I’ve not tried it, but for people who don’t like weeding/maintenance of gardens, straw bale gardening works good. Would also be a good use for all that ryegrass straw you are going to have!
     
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  7. Adfundum

    Adfundum Moderator Staff Member Donor

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    Freedom! Vive la worms!

    I prefer to save scraps and coffee grounds for composting also, but my yard is simply too big and needs to have way more compost than I can give it.
     
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  8. Adfundum

    Adfundum Moderator Staff Member Donor

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    :)
    You do farming? One of my neighbors farms. That's where I first heard about using the rye grass and the no-till stuff.

    I've been out of town the past three weeks, but when I got back yesterday, I saw the rye grass was about a foot tall. It's gone insane, and that's a good thing (I think/hope) except that it's my lawn instead of a pasture. We had about four inches of rain while I was gone. That's much more than normal, so it's not surprising it's grown like that. I'm really happy about it, but I think I'm going to have to mow soon. Not that I wouldn't love to have it come back again next year, but this is supposed to be a lawn, not a pasture. What gets me worked up is that I've never seen anything grow so well here. Kind of exciting.
     
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  9. vman12

    vman12 Well-Known Member Past Donor

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    If you're in a cool season grass area, look into a rhizomatous tall fescue if you're looking for a nice lawn grass.

    RTF has the self-healing properties of bluegrass, requires much less water, and doesn't develop the thatch problems you get with other grasses.

    Normally fescue is a clumping grass, but an RTF fescue will grow horizontally filling in patches and has a deep root system to help even more with compaction issues.
     
  10. Adfundum

    Adfundum Moderator Staff Member Donor

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    I'll look into that fescue. I'm in the transition zone between warm and cool season grasses. UNC promotes using fescue, but without a watering system, it doesn't work well here. Like most of my neighbors, I started out with the fescue, but it has to be reseeded each year and goes "crunch" in the summer when walked on.

    For a while we could buy a heat tolerant Kentucky blue grass that worked better than the fescue, but it's not for sale here anymore. Even that stuff tended to die off if it was in all-day sun.
     
  11. politicalcenter

    politicalcenter Well-Known Member

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    What I have tried with good success is last year's leftover hay from feeding my goats. It just lays outside over winter and rots. I take It up and pile it in 2ft by 2ft squares about a foot deep. Last year I planted watermelon seeds in these "hills" and had a very good watermelon harvest.... the best ever... And I have also planted carrots in raised beds of rotten hay...best carrots ever. But you must be careful of hay because of persistent herbicides. Unless you are growing corn.
     
  12. politicalcenter

    politicalcenter Well-Known Member

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    Rescue stays green longer than most other grasses in dry summers. You can seed it under straw to keep moisture in till it gets going.
     
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2020
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  13. vman12

    vman12 Well-Known Member Past Donor

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    Yeah I'm not too familiar with your zone. I'm in a more northern zone.

    The RTF works great here in either shade or full sun. It was better than the water-sucking bluegrass in direct sun too.
     
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  14. vman12

    vman12 Well-Known Member Past Donor

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    And weed seeds if you get it from somewhere else.....
     
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  15. politicalcenter

    politicalcenter Well-Known Member

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    I didn't weed my watermelon patch once the plants were established. The weeds helped the melons from getting sunburned. Sunburn can be a problem here in Bama. I also used some miracle grow on them. Will probably plant watermelon and cantaloupe this year.
     
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  16. vman12

    vman12 Well-Known Member Past Donor

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    Yeah not a big deal so much in a garden but weeds in the yard make me a little crazy.

    I've seen what happened to a neighbor who brought in straw instead of peat moss when he reseeded his lawn. *shiver* It wasn't pretty.
     
  17. 557

    557 Well-Known Member

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    Yep farming is my business and my hobby I guess. I would love to try more new cover crops but right now I’m limited by time. They need to be planted right behind the combine so you need another guy to run a tractor/drill. It’s impossible to hire help so I just do what I can which isn’t as much as I’d like. I’ve tried aerial seeding before harvest of the cash crop but it’s never worked well and is expensive.

    I would love to know how your ryegrass responds to repeated mowing. We usually rotate cattle through paddocks to allow regrowth, but at a certain point the plant will always move into the reproductive phase. Eventually all it will do is put out a couple small leaves and head out again. Let me know how it works out.
     
  18. Adfundum

    Adfundum Moderator Staff Member Donor

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    Ha! I have no option but to leave the weeds alone in the lawn. That's what grows. I found that they add to the soil what is not already there. I call it "weed therapy". Maybe someday...
     
  19. Adfundum

    Adfundum Moderator Staff Member Donor

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    I have to wait until it dries out before I can mow. We've had lots of rain and the ground is saturated and spongy. It's not going to be easy mowing because it's about 12" tall right now. I need some goats :). But I will let you know how it goes.
     
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  20. 557

    557 Well-Known Member

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    Wow 12 inches tall in January. Mine will be dormant for another 45 days. I guess that means we live too far apart for me to help you with the lack of goat problem!
     
  21. Moonglow

    Moonglow Banned

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    While the chips are degrading use a cover and it will keep in moisture and attract more worms to make the soil richer. I live in the hills of the Ozarks and there is little soil. I use old carpet from houses I remodeled and it causes worms to turn the dirt a dark brown and make it loamier..
     
  22. Adfundum

    Adfundum Moderator Staff Member Donor

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    I'm in NC, so winters are not cold enough for northern grasses to go dormant for any length of time. I do appreciate you considering loaning me some goats. :)
     
  23. Adfundum

    Adfundum Moderator Staff Member Donor

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    That's actually a good idea. Do you cover the carpets with anything?
     
  24. Moonglow

    Moonglow Banned

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    Nope I just lay them on top of the ground.It also helps with erosion of the topsoil, since I live in the hills....
    Cardboard boxes work well also the carpet lasts longer.
     
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2020
  25. Adfundum

    Adfundum Moderator Staff Member Donor

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    It lasts longer and allows water to penetrate. But I had this thought of a shag carpet from 1971 laying on my front lawn. Might not meet a certain sense of aesthetics I'm hoping for. I'd cover it with mulch.

    I do keep cardboard for a weed barrier, but the next time I run across some carpet, I might give it a try.
     
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