Using Wood Chips

Source(s): Gary R Peiffer

Powerful tornadoes and thunderstorms often rake across Georgia in the spring. Trees fall, limbs are snapped and landscapes are devastated. After a storm, homeowners, landscapers and tree companies are faced with mounds of wood chips that must be used on site or taken to a local composting facility.

Using Wood Chips

Homeowners may have questions about using chips in their landscape. Here is a collection of pointers from Dr. Kim Coder, Extension Forest Resources Specialist:

  • The use of chips as mulch for shrubs and trees is absolutely their best use. Chips conserve moisture, prevent weeds and grass growing in the root area and keep the plant roots cool.
  • The appropriate thickness of the layer of chips depends on the proportion of “fuses” in the mix. If you hold a double handful of the chip mix in a breeze and let it sift through your fingers, the fines (small pieces of leaves and needles) blow several feet away. The heavy, coarse chips fall to the ground quickly.
  • If there is a high proportion of fines, the chip layer should be 2 inches thick.
  • If the mix is mostly coarse chips, the layer can be up to 4 inches thick.

Homeowners may be worried about the chips poisoning their plants. In scientific terms, this is called “allelopathy”. You are probably aware that black walnut trees prevent many plants from growing underneath their canopy. But walnut chips exhibit very little allelopathy. In fact there is rarely a reason for a homeowner to be concerned with this problem. Only in unusual circumstances do wood chips inhibit woody plant growth. If a chip pile is rained on a few times before it is spread, all of the tannins from oak trees (which might harm willows and shallow-rooted trees) will be washed out.

Use caution before spreading pine chips under pine trees. The chips are strongly attractive to the black turpentine beetle and moderately attractive to the Southern Pine Beetle. It is best to use pine chips under hardwood trees and shrubs. Use hardwood chips under pine trees.

Suggested uses for wood chips:

  • Mulch
  • Parking areas
  • Nature trails
  • Dog runs
  • Playgrounds
  • Soil amendment (if piled in one place to rot for two years)


Composting and Mulching

Center Publication Number: 21

Building a Compost Mound

Source(s): Gary R Peiffer

Yard wastes can be composted without a bin – if you don’t mind the looks of an uncontained compost mound in your yard. The only costs are your time and work.


What You Need

  • Shovel or pitchfork
  • Work Gloves

Maintaining Your Compost

Find a good location and pile your yard waste in a mound about 3 feet x 3 feet x 3 feet. If you cover the pile with a layer of soil, it will keep in moisture for the microorganisms and soil animals working to make compost.

It is best to have two piles. After the first pile is large enough, stop adding organic material and let it work. In the meantime, add your wastes to the second pile.

Make sure the pile is moist, especially if it is covered with soil.

Adding Wastes

Add wastes as they become available. Non-wood materials, such as grass clippings and garden wastes work best.

You can turn the pile to speed up composting. Compost should be ready in three to four months if you turn the pile, or in about one year if you don’t turn the pile.

Several types of compost bins can be seen at the Fernbank Science Center Compost Garden, 186 Heaton Park Drive, Atlanta, GA 30307. The DeKalb County Extension Service also has compost demonstration sites located throughout the county.

For information about home composting, call or visit your local County Extension office or The Georgia Department of Community Affairs at 404-679-4940.

Resource(s): Composting and Mulching

Center Publication Number: 3

Bot Canker

Source(s): Gary R Peiffer

Bot Canker (Botryosphaeria dothidea, B. obtusa, Sphaeropsis, Macrophoma)

Bot Canker of Leyland Cypress
Bot Canker of Leyland Cypress

Disease Symptoms

Infected branches on Leyland cypress are a bright rust color most often visible in spring and fall. The bot organism attacks sites with wounds from pruning, mechanical damage, freeze cracks, etc. or natural opening (lenticels) following a stress event such as drought. A sunken or flattened stem canker develops at the infection site and may ooze sap (gummosis). Eventually it may encircle the branch or stem killing all foliage above the site. It has a wide host range including Leyland cypress, fruit and shade trees and vines.

Disease Management

Prune diseased branches six (6) inches below the infected area. Water and fertilize plants appropriately to avoid stress and promote good growth. Protect plants from injury. Avoid planting too close together (plants need to be far enough apart to allow for good air circulation). No fungicides are effective once infection has occurred. A protective fungicide application when an injury occurs may reduce the possibility of infection.

Resource(s): Common Landscape Diseases In Georgia

Center Publication Number: 53