How to get a delivery of wood chips?

Learning how to get a delivery of wood chips is a good skill for urban homesteaders building a food forest.  There are many ways to get a load of chips delivered to your house.  The easiest method if available in your area is ordering a chip drop.  Second, calling a local arborist company and asking to be placed on their woodchip list works.  Third, you can rent a tree and limb chipper and create your own if you have debris from fallen trees that need to be broken down.  Lastly, checking Craigslist and other online marketplaces for people that have excess chips from a drop they have received. All of these methods work.  Of course, there are other ways to get a delivery of wood chips for mulching a food forest, but these are the ways we have been successful.

how to get a woodchip delivery

The following goes into detail over these 4 best ways to get a delivery of wood chips to an urban homestead.

Order a Chip Drop

Ordering a chip drop is the easiest method for getting a load of chips dropped off at the desired location.  Chip Drop while serving the entire country is not always available in every location.  Therefore, the only way to see if chip drop is a good option in your area is to create an account and set up a drop request. 

Check the map for drops in your area and if there have been recent successful drops it’s worth putting in a request.  Consequently, if there have been no drops in your location you are better served trying one of the other methods below.

A couple of key items to keep top of mind when placing an order with chip drop.  The service is free, but can be more successful in a timely fashion by paying the $20 or $40 fee.  Make sure to select no logs if you want a clean load of just chips.  Notably, the size of the drop can be huge, well over 10 yards of material if the truck is full, so be prepared for a lot of chips. This is awesome when doing big projects on your property like sheet mulching hundreds of square feet.  And an absolute pain when you just want a yard or two of material.

If you are only planning on mulching a small area with wood chips find a neighbor with too much.  There are many sources of chips from individuals on online marketplace.

How to Move the Wood Chips

The best method for moving the wood chips to the food forest is via wheelbarrow with hand tools.  Load up the wheelbarrow using a pitch fork or a garden fork.  Dump the wood chips around fruit trees to create a thriving fungal network that trees love.  Gardeners that want to kill sections of turf grass will move the wood chips onto cardboard or even cardboard with compost as a sheet mulch.

Call an Arborist

Every tree arborist has to have an outlet for getting rid of the wood chips at the end of the day.  While many will use a service like Chip Drop or other marketplaces others do not.  By calling an arborist you can find out if they are open to dropping loads on your property and if so will place you on a list.  When they are in the local area they will give you a call.  Smaller municipalities and counties may also have a local company or road crew that maintains the trees around the roads and town.  These outfits are excellent options for reaching out to as well.  

The downside to this method is that you may not get to prequalify the types of wood you would like for your wood chips like you can with a chip drop.  However, for food forest mulch it really does not matter and any type of mulch will do to get your soil building going in the right direction.

Rent a Tree Chipper

Renting a tree chipper from Home Depot or any other retail outlet that offers equipment rental is one way to go.  This certainly kills two birds with one stone if you have a large amount of woody debris that needs to be removed.  Storm-damaged trees can generate a lot of material.  They require a lot of heavy pruning or cutting down if too damaged.  After a big regional storm is always a good time to look for a chip drop.  Of course, if it is your property with eth down limbs getting a chipper is the route to go.

While renting a large chipper that can handle larger size branches.  Buying rarely works out to be a good deal for urban users.  Even with a larger property in the country the cost of renting a chipper usually nets out better.  Tree chippers get very expensive.  The largest of tools for normal users are capable of handling big branches over 4 inches in diameter.

The best part of renting a wood chipper is you can prep material at your site before it arrives.  Once you have the chipper on site you can work through that material quickly.  This is the only way to know 100% exactly what is in your wood chips.  Chip Drops are notorious for having random pieces of plastic or garbage from the crew in the middle of the pile.  While not a huge pain to remove, this is absolutely avoided when you are doing the chipping yourself.  

Check Craigslist

People post piles of wood chips for pickup all the time on craigslist.  These free piles occur because people order a drop from an arborist and don’t realize how much material 15 yards of chips actually is.  Using a pickup truck and pitch fork you can drive up to a pile and load up.  This is a good option if you need just a small amount of woodchips. 

If you were planning on killing your grass and covering it all with woodchips order a load yourself.  When you get chips via Craigslist you will be moving them twice.  Therefore, it is wise to avoid the extra work, but in a pinch or if you only need a few bucket loads to mulch some freshly planted trees craigslist is a great way to avoid having 15 yards dumped on your driveway.

What types of trees to avoid for wood chips?

All wood chips work well and when you order a delivery you may or may not get to be selective.  Some gardeners like to avoid specific species of wood such as walnut due to the juglone preventing some plants from growing.  My personal preference is to avoid hedge-like vegetation such as laurels and arborvitae.  These types of plants will be very heavy with leafy material.  On the positive side, these materials will break down really quickly and turn into organic matter that plants and trees love.  On the negative side, they break down so quickly that when you really want wood chips they don’t have much wood in them.

When is the best time to add wood chips to a food forest?

I prefer to seek out woodchips during the winter.  This time of year allows you to avoid a load that is a half-leafy green material.  Especially if you can be selective on tree type you can avoid any evergreens altogether and get a load of just pure woodchips from deciduous trees. 

A winter load with no leaves is perfect for setting aside to use in a chicken or duck run.  Turning this into a wonderful woodchip compost.  Consequently, we get a few loads in the winter and then work through them over the course of the spring, summer, and fall.  Obviously, this requires having the space available to have a pile of chips sitting.

Woodchips are the perfect food forest mulch and should be part of any backyard orchardists’ plans for improving their soils.  There are so many purposes for wood chips for urban homesteaders.  Use them for paths around your property, and use them in heavily used areas by your animals.  Many gardeners like the back to Eden gardening method.  However, it requires heavy use of wood chips but be careful to avoid using fresh chips for your annual vegetable garden.  It is much better to use the wood chips for a chicken run ground cover for a season before placing them into your garden.  Fresh chips take time to break down so get delivery of woodchips now and let them sit for a period of time.