How To Make Wood Chip Mulch for Your Yard

Wood chip mulch
Wood chip mulch made using a chipper/shredder

How do I make my own bark mulch? What equipment do I need? –Sunny

Bark mulch is usually made at lumber mills, where large trees are fed through machines that remove the bark before the wood is sawn into lumber. Most homeowners don’t have the equipment (or enough trees) to make pure bark mulch.

However, you can use a wood chipper/shredder to make your own wood mulch; which is a great way to recycle trees, broken limbs, and debris in your yard. Here’s how.

Wood Chip Mulch Basics

To make wood mulch, you’ll need to rent or buy a wood chipper/shredder. The smaller portable models generally grind branches up to 2”-3” in diameter. For limbs up to 6” in diameter, you’ll need to rent a larger model that’s pulled on a trailer, which will require a vehicle with a trailer hitch to bring the chipper home.

Grinding up tree trunks requires a large industrial chipper, so for bigger jobs consider hiring a landscape or tree trimming company.

Home chipper shredders
Home chipper/shredders can be bought or rented for your yard

Your machine will come with specific instructions, but in general it’s just a matter of feeding wood and yard debris into the hopper and watching the wood chips pour out the other end! Here are a few tips for chipping branches and other tree debris:

  • Machine Size: Chippers are rated according to the maximum diameter wood they can shred. Be sure you’ve got the right type of shredder for your project.
  • Large chipper/shredder to rent
    Rent large chipper/shredder
  • Wood Chip Mulch: For uniform wood chip mulch, remove leaves and twiggy material and just shred the wood branches.
  • Leaves and Clippings: For maximum recycling power, mix in grass clippings and leaves for mulch that will decompose into nutritious compost.
  • Double Grinding: For finer mulch, shovel the wood chips back into the chipper for a second grinding. When you purchase mulch from a professional mulch yard, you can choose from single-ground, double-ground, and even triple-ground – it’s easy to do this yourself.
  • Aromatic Mulch: To enhance the smell of your mulch, buy a bag or two of cedar chips, and mix them into with second grinding.
  • Mulch Color: While the wood chip mulch will start out as a light color, it will darken over time.

Shredder/Chipper Safety

Follow the safety instructions that come with the chipper/shredder including:

  • Keep a Safe Distance: Safety tips for shredder/chippers almost go without saying – once you see what the machine can do to a tree, you’ll want to stay as far away from the business end as you can!
  • Double ground mulch
    Double-ground mulch
  • Protect Eyes and Hands: Wear safety glasses and work gloves at all times.
  • Use Wooden Tools: NEVER use your hands or metal tools to push material into the hopper. Use a forked stick or old broom handle instead.
  • Take It Slow: Feed in small amounts at a time to avoid jams. If something does get stuck in the hopper, turn off the machine and use an old rake handle or pole to work it loose.
  • Remove Excess: Periodically bag or cart away the mulch to keep it from piling up and overheating the machine.
  • Turn It Off: Always turn off or unplug the chipper/shredder when clearing jams.

Further Information

Julie

11 COMMENTS

  1. S’il vous plait je pourrai avoir un barème de prix selon chaque machine déchiqueteuse je suis très intéressé pour l’achat de trois machines veuillez me les envoyer à mon adresse E-Mail Merci Dans l’attente d’un envoi de votre part.
    encore Merci

  2. The price and availability of chipper-shredders vary by location. In general, you can find chipper-shredders at any home improvement or lawn equipment store. The ones in the article photo were available at Home Depot and include, from left to right, the Beast 4” ($999), Beast 3” ($849), and Cub Cadet 2” ($649). They also have a selection available on the Home Depot website.

    Large chippers usually rent for $100-$200 per day and require a vehicle with a trailer hitch. They can be rented from Home Depot or from a local tool rental company in your area.

  3. Question: Is it smart to use chipper/shredder output for ground cover? Is this not just asking for trouble with carpenter ants and termites on your property, since this ground mulch is the perfect food for them. Also, is it not redwood bark, which is used for ground mulch because insects do not like it. This what I was told years ago. Please comment, thank you.

  4. I am needing to shred already chopped up pieces of wood from a tree service being delivered to our church. I want to shred it smaller but wish to also not be days doing it. Some kind of portable unit that is efficient and heavy duty enough to handle the job!

  5. How many times should i have my chipper serviced ? I see slow medium and fast switch on my chipper …. why ? my chipper seems light it bounces around in my garden

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