A little bit about woodchips: 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!