Wood chips or small pieces of wood are often used as fillers and to make items like chipboards. If you want to know all about the various uses of wood chips, read this article.
What are Wood Chips?
Wood chips are often a byproduct of the wood manufacturing process. They refer to small pieces of wood cut or chipped from trees or large wood products like boards, plywood, etc.
Often treated as wood waste, It can be immensely useful in the right application.
Wood chips are rarely a waste. In fact, many applications involve making chips from solid wood, where small wood pieces are needed. The machine used to make these chips is called a wood chipper. It cuts down large wood into smaller pieces, much like a shredder.
Based on production and uses, wood chips can be of various types, such as forest chips and recycled wood off-cuts.
Types of wood chips
There can be many types depending on size, production, the kind of chipper, source, and uses.
Based on the source, i.e. places from where wood chips can be procured, the types of chips include sawmill residues (sawdust), untreated wood residues, recycled wood, bark chips, forest chips, and energy crops.
Based on the tree from which wood chips originate, there can be numerous types such as hickory, cherry, pecan, ash, apple wood, and others.
What’s the Use of Wood Chips?
It can be quite useful for the right people and in particular applications. For most people, they are nothing but wood residue or waste that is not suitable for any real purpose. However, for some people like woodworkers and board manufacturers, woodchips can be a valuable resource with numerous possible applications in industrial and commercial settings.
11 Practical Uses of Wood Chips
Wood chips are used in many applications, mainly as a fuel source, livestock bedding, mulch and compost for gardens, walkaways, and decorations.
Here are some popular uses:
1. For Fuel
Wood chips are usually considered an eco-friendly fuel option over fossil fuels for their superior environmental benefits. Wood chips as one of the best types of above-ground biomass present a wonderful and eco-friendly alternative to coal, natural gas, and oil. It can be used to make fire as well as to fuel engines and biomass reactors. The best advantage is that it’s a sustainable heat source which is friendly to climate. Unlike other natural fuel sources such as coal, timber chips produce very low smoky emissions when burned, which means using them as a fuel source also helps reduce pollution.
The chips and pellets are also preferred over charcoal for cooking to reduce emissions. They are also a great way to start a fire in garden fire pits and bonfires.
2. Bedding for Livestock
Using them instead of straw or alternatives for livestock bedding can offer a more cost-effective solution, especially in regions where straw is either inaccessible or too expensive. There are other advantages as well, like wood chips are less dusty than straw, which helps ensure that your animals remain cleaner and healthier while resting.
When considering wood chips for livestock bedding, it’s essential to choose the right type and size. Timber chips with around 20% moisture content are usually the best and soft enough for bedding. They must be free of chemicals and pointy branches or bark that could harm animals. The best quality chips consist of dense chipping without large chunks of bark. Chips made from waste wood or trees like stumps and broken logs are usually perfect because they contain the right amount of moisture.
3. Mulch for Gardens
Another very common use of wood chips is as mulch in gardens and lawns. Wood chip mulch is a better option than alternatives as it can help keep the soil warm and retain moisture to ensure the healthy development of plants. It also helps suppress weeds that can be harmful to plants. Wood chip mulch is also commonly applied after fall harvest to protect plants and soil from extremely low temperatures or snow. It can also help with your garden’s aesthetics by keeping it tidy and dirt-free.
However, wood chips shouldn’t be treated as a replacement for fertilizers as they lack essential nutrients for plants. If you are using wood chip mulch to cover your plants, make sure to periodically remove or shift it to allow plants to receive adequate sunlight.
4. Garden Paths and Walkways
Timber chips are often used as a viable solution for creating walkways, especially for gardens and parks. There are many benefits of using them. They can level uneven paths and fill holes or gaps, maintaining a charming, tidy appearance in your garden. While concrete is usually the most common choice for pathways, wood chips are better in terms of aesthetics and sustainability. Finely shredded chips make for wonderful paths, especially in forest gardens. These paths are, however, temporary as the chips will eventually break down to become mulch, which you can use for plants. Because it’s a cost-effective option, you can renew the path with fresh wood chips. This approach addresses two needs in one, providing a convenient path for gardens and creating natural mulch for plants.
5. Playground Surfaces
Wood chips are commonly used for providing cushioning in children’s play areas. They can be used to cover the ground to create a cushioned surface beneath swings and other play areas, offering enough softness to prevent accidents due to falls.
Timber chips are also a great way to avoid muddy conditions in high-traffic areas. As a surface for playgrounds, they offer both sustainability and child-friendliness and are certainly more eco-friendly than tarmac and similar options. They not only provide safe cushioning for kids in case of falls but also reduce the risk of slips and trips by providing traction.
The use of wood chips is not just limited to gardens and outdoors. They also find many creative uses indoors. It has always been used as a versatile choice for home decor and crafts. They can be used to provide a stable base for floral arrangements in vases with artificial flowers. They are quite popular for use in arts and crafts due to their natural texture and color. Other than appearance, wood chips also have a lot of practice use in a house or office. In addition to providing stability and height for flowers in vases, they can be used to introduce unique patterns, shapes and colors in furniture and art projects to increase their visual appeal. In general, timber chips can be used in a range of interior decoration projects.
As we’ve learned so far, wood chips serve many purposes in gardening and landscaping. Besides being a valuable mulch source, as we discussed above, these chips can also be used to make high-quality compost to enhance soil quality. They are an excellent source of carbon, which is an important nutrient for soil. Whether used as mulch or added as a layer in composting, wood chips can provide many essential nutrients upon decomposing to boost the health and growth of plants.
8. Raised Beds
Another possible use of wood chips is for making raised beds. While fresh timber chips aren’t suitable for mulch, they can be used for creating new growing areas, such as building raised beds (the lasagna bed method). Wood chips can provide density and are an amazing source of carbon for establishing new growing spaces like plant beds. The chips are generally added as a part of the ‘brown’ layer when building compost for raised bed gardens. They are a cost-effective but really beneficial way to help boost the quality of your garden compost, especially if you are looking for sustainable options.
9. Compost Toilet System
Partially decomposed wood chips are also sometimes used in compost toilet systems. This type of toilet involves decomposing human waste through the composting process to turn it into compost. This is an innovative and eco-friendly toilet system now used in many parts of the world. Wood chips can be used instead of sawdust or other alternatives as a carbon-rich material to cover human waste during the composting process. It’s an easily accessible, sustainable and cost-effective option.
10. Erosion Control
Soil erosion is a very real problem. It can be caused by water, wind or other natural forces. Wood chips are sometimes used as a temporary solution to combat erosion, especially on a small scale like in a yard or garden. Applying a layer of timber chips to the eroding area can provide a protective barrier that can prevent soil loss temporarily, especially during intense rain or storm events.
11. Bug Hotels
A more unusual application is in bug hotels. They are small house-like structures made to provide residents for insects and bugs. Small quantities of chips can be used as a sustainable and cost-effective material when constructing bug hotels in a garden. Bug hotels are quite popular among children and can be a great practical source of learning for them. A variety of natural and repurposed materials, including wood chips, can be used for making a bug hotel.
Where to Buy High-Quality Wood Chips Online?
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