Mulch, mulch and more mulch! Everybody needs mulch! The real question here is what can you do with stump grinding mulch that is left after a tree stump has been ground? We have some killer tips to get you on your way to using and losing stump grinding mulch in your garden. Let’s get started on a brief bit of the makeup of stump grinding mulch.
Stump grinding mulch is the bi-product of grinding a tree stump with a stump grinder, obvious right? Stump grinders chip away at the stump and turn it into lots of small wood pieces. These wood pieces get mixed in with the surrounding soil during the process and ‘boom’ the mulch is created. Depending on the size of the tree stump, we will have a certain size pile of stump grinding mulch that can be either used or removed. At Proleaf we try to encourage our clients to keep their mulch as it is fantastic in the garden. So, what can stump grinding mulch be used for?
If a large tree stump was removed then it is highly likely that there is a sizeable pile of mulch left that can be recycled. The mulch can be used for several things in the garden such as mulching flower beds or veggie patches, creating compost, spreading on paths, filling in holes and much more. Some of our favorite methods for recycling stump grinding mulch are as follows.
Wood chips can take a while to break down into the soil so the smaller they are the quicker they break down. The good news here is stump grinders generally chip the wood into very small particles. Mix your stump grinding mulch 50/50 with some existing soil and add in some organic matter such as manure, compost or leaf debris.
Mix well, soak the pile with a hose and cover the pile with a tarp. By soaking and covering the pile, this will speed up the process of the wood chips breaking down by creating heat and moisture. We recommend uncovering, soaking and turning the pile with a garden fork every couple of weeks until the soil is ready to use in the garden.
Adding some high nitrogen fertilizer is optional to help with the process too. Depending on the time of year, your soil should be ready to use in around 3-6 months. This technique is perfect if you are planning to plant a tree in the same spot that the stump was removed.
Stump grinding mulch can be used directly on garden beds or vegetable patches just as any store-bought mulch can. The optimum mulch depth as recommended by Bartlett Tree Experts is 10cm for trees and 5 cm for shrubs and plants.
Mulch is a fantastic way to retain moisture in the soil, protect roots from frost and it will also slowly break down into organic matter thus feeding your trees and plants. It also suppresses weeds and grass from growing and taking nutrients away from your trees or plants. Avoid piling mulch up around the stems of plants or trees, try to leave a small well or bowl around the base, this will help with watering and won’t cause any tree health issues.
As mentioned previously, we encourage our clients to keep their stump grinding mulch and use it in the garden but this is not always possible. In small courtyard gardens or situations where there is simply nowhere to use the mulch, removing the mulch will be the only option. This is especially the case when large tree stumps are removed in small spaces or where the site needs to be left level to prevent tripping hazards.
After stumps have been ground, the mulch is fairly aerated so be careful not to remove too much as the mulch will sink over time, potentially leaving a hole.
Now you know what stump grinding mulch can be used for, go ahead and give it a go!