Make your own Mulch!

Discussion in 'Landscape Architecture and Design' started by MLI, Jan 23, 2001.

  1. MLI

    MLI LawnSite Senior Member
    from Ma
    Messages: 464

    Any of you guys heard of taking woodwaste products(woodchips)sending them through a tubgrinder, then into a machine that colors the refined product. End result is suppose to look quite similar to the real thing. Product would have to be treated as well for insects, but sounds like a feasible idea. Some of the loads ive recieved in the past seem to have wood waste product in them. I dont know if they are mixing 2 parts mulch to 1 part wood waste to increase their savings or what.
    Theres a contractor down the street from us that has woodchip pile sky high, and there is a small tubgrinder next to it. He also sells quite a bit of mulch. I was thinking after the woodchips sat there and cooked, they would be a nice dark color, maybe they mix with bark at that point. Could be nice profit seeing as guys around here are looking for places to dump their chiptrucks. Anybody out there wanna comment on this one?
  2. SLSNursery

    SLSNursery LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 442

    We are hiring a grinder to come in and shred our pile soon. The product which comes out will then need to sit for a while to attain the darker brown color. According to the fellow who owns the grinder, its best to let it sit for another year mix in some tree chips, and then re-grind it for a sellable product.

    You need to have space and time. Plus, the machinery to handle the product at different times is costly. It seems to work out if you wait until you have accumulated a large enough pile of chips and debris for a few days of grinding at least. Much more than that in a yard and special permits become necessary.

    Coloring - We never had much interest in selling or using the colored wood waste mulch. It seems to run a lot, and doesn't look that natural, even compared to colored cedar.

    Treating - I'm not sure this is possible or feasible. What would you treat it with, and how would you sell a (pesticide) treated product without EPA or DEP registration?

  3. MJ

    MJ LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 312

    Along the same line, I planning on planting a new lawn myself this spring. I have a neighbor who mills lumber for a living and has several tons of sawdust he wants to get rid of. Would tilling the sawdust into my turf be advisable?

  4. Guido

    Guido LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,087

    I'm no expert so theres a slim chance I could be wrong, but if I know 2 things about sawdust it would be 1. it soaks up water and 2. it attracts insects. I wouldn't want it in my yard. What would be the reason behind it? Never heard of that one before, but like I said I'm no soil expert at all!
  5. GroundKprs

    GroundKprs LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,969

    Sawdust would be one of the best ammendments for a lawn. Wood is basically lignin, which is the plant material that gives plants support. Lignin is tough, and takes a long time - many years - to decay completely. On a microscopic scale, the lignin is like a tiny hollow cylinder, with dead carbohydrate material inside. This dead material attracts soil microbes, to consume - decay - the material. After this the microbes die, providing a great source of nutrient for the root hairs of the grass plants, then the root hairs die, the microbes return, etc. So you are constructing a perfect natural cycling enviromnent for the grass plants by adding wood debris.

    But it is very important to be aware of plant decay process. New woody debris will require a lot of nitrogen to initiate decay, and a new lawn requires nitrogen. Decay of any plant material will produce nitrogen, but nitrogen is always required to initiate that cycle. Just tilling in sawdust would likely gaurantee failure of your lawn. Get detail assistance from your state cooperative extension service to plan properly.

    My one chance to experiment with this was in a new lawn in a development built on pure sand. The project was done in 1990, and the areas where finely ground wood chips were added still stand out in appearance. It just took about 30 minutes on phone to Purdue extension to find the right person to tell us what proportions and what other ammendments were useful for this idea.
  6. MJ

    MJ LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 312

    Thanks, guys. Although it might seem like you take opposing views, I find both useful. In my particular area, it stays very moist since I live in a very wooded shaded area with a high water table and a granite ledge close to the surface. So I'm not worried about drawing moisture. In fact, it would help speed decay of the sawdust/wood chips. I have a low spot of about 1/4 acre that I'm wanting to fill and level for the wife's flower garden. Taking topsoil from another area, mix with the sawdust and some starter fert would do it well, I think. Not worried about attracting insects, either, all the trees do that already.


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