In many parts of the world today woodchips are used for energy production. In the Atlanta area, however, energy plants are still largely coal-fired and there is no market for wood chips.
At Boutte Tree we are eagerly awaiting the day when new advances in science will allow for a cost effective method of turning woodchips into fuel. This is not as far away as was once thought. Using genetically modified bacteria it may be possible to develop a biological reactor of sorts that consumes wood products and other forms of vegetation and produces a usable fuel. When that day comes, we will be selling all of our wood chips to the highest bidder!
At present, however, the most environmentally friendly thing that can be done with the wood chips that result from our tree trimming operations is to deliver the chips locally to be used as mulch. Woodchips are great mulch for trees and shrubs because they provide organic material to the soil, they help the soil retain moisture, and they release small amounts of nitrogen and other nutrients as they decompose. Woodchips should be spread no deeper than 4′ deep around trees and shrubs and the mulched (chipped?) area should be about the same diameter in feet as the stem of the plant is in inches. Thus, a 12″ tree should have about a 12′ diameter mulched area. This is for maximum root health; there are obviously cases where less space is available for mulching. Trees evolved in forests where the mulch extends outwards to the end of the forest and is constantly replenished by falling leaves and trees, so you can’t really spread chips out too far!
go to www.chipero.com. Chipero.com is a site where homeowners and tree services can get connected for free woodchips. It was started by some students at GA Tech, and we were their first users! We love it!
We consider chip delivery to be quid-pro-quo arrangement where Boutte Tree benefits by having a convenient and ready site for the disposal of the chips and the customer benefits from a large quantity of free material with no delivery charges. For this reason, we never schedule the delivery of woodchips but merely use the chipero site. It is up to the customer to maintain an available dumping spot during the times when chips are expected. We also do not take responsibility for things like cracked driveways. We will keep foreign debris such as logs or trash out of the chips and the driver should be able to inform you of any possible poison oak or ivy in the chips, though we can’t take responsibility for any maladies from poison oak or ivy. It’s best to cover the chips with a certified mulch before allowing young children to play in the mulch.
After an unspecified amount of time spent shoveling, transporting, and spreading, you can help the chips reach their potential as garden mulch! Now it will do its job of conserving water, providing nutrients, etc., and your plants will thank you!