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How to use Stump Grindings as Mulch

Once a tree is chopped down, the stump is often left behind,  becoming a useless eyesore until it decays away to its last molecule! But how about utilising that same stump into something that’s great for other plants in your yard? 


Instead of throwing the stump grindings into the garbage or dumping them on the compost pile, you may reuse them for mulch in your garden and save money on bagged mulch. Wood chips are as effective as shredded bark when used for the purpose of covering the soil, retaining its moisture and stalling the growth of weeds.


When hiring an arborist to cut down your trees, ask them if they have stump removal, or stump grinding services too. This way, the stump is removed along with the tree, giving you a clear space that can be better utilised to plant more trees, grow a lawn, or even build on. The stump can then be ground down and used for mulch to help keep your garden healthy, moist, and free of unwanted weeds! 


Here’s how you can use stump grindings as mulch. Let’s dive in!


Using a Stump Grinder

The easiest way you can clean up stump grindings after stump removal is to rake them into a single pile. To ensure maximum retention of moisture and prevent the stump grindings from being washed away, gather the large wood chips and tiny sawdust pieces. Next, scoop the debris into a wheelbarrow, using a flat shovel. If you want to avoid combining soil with the wood material, stop the grinder and rake up the grindings before grinding below soil grade.


Cleaning up the wood chips

Remove any big grass clusters from the stump material. Leaves and evergreen needles can be left alone as these are also able to be used in mulching.


Mulching adds Rich Nutrients to the Soil

If your soil’s fertility concerns you, spread a 1-inch layer of nutrient-rich compost around the base of your plants. As wood chips disintegrate, they give some nutrients to the soil. Organic compost includes decomposed plant matter that is more easily absorbed by the soil in the meantime.


Landscaping After Tree Removal

If you’re planning to plant new trees or a garden once the stump-grinding is done, distribute the wood chips evenly around the base of your plants in a 8  to 16 cm layer, with around 10 cm surrounding smaller plants. Do not apply mulch directly to plant stems, since this can lead to rotting or could infect the living plant.


You can mix stump grindings with shredded bark or wood chip mulch if you don’t have enough to make a deep enough layer.


Supplementing Soil’s Nitrogen Content

If you find that a plant’s growth has slowed down and its foliage isn’t as lush or rich as it used to be, use a high-nitrogen fertiliser. Such signs usually indicate a shortage of nitrogen content, which may happen due to the wood chips’ decomposition (which utilises nitrogen). Since most of the issues with nitrogen deficiency occur at the soil surface, this is most frequently a problem that occurs with less established plants that under developed root systems.  


Refilling of the Mulch

Maintain the appropriate level of mulch around the plants by replenishing it as the stump grindings start to decay. If you don’t have any leftover stump mulch, you can use mulch derived from shredded bark or wood chips.


Pro Tip

Often we hear concerns about utilising stump grindings of a sick tree assumed to be damaging the plants. However, when it’s applied above the soil surface, those potentially harmful microorganisms are no longer a threat. 


Wood mulches, especially derived from pine trees, are frequently thought to dramatically increase soil acidity, although the majority of the changes occur in the mulch rather than the soil. If you’re concerned that pine tree stump grindings may harm your plants, keep these grindings away from acid-loving plants.


If you’re looking for expert tree felling services including stump removal in Christchurch, Rangiora, Kaiapoi, and the wider Canterbury region.