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The basics of sheet mulching

 
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Sheet Mulching is My Favorite Way to Prepare Land for Planting

Have you heard about sheet mulching? Have you used it on your homestead? Sheet mulching really is one of those methods that is just awesome at shifting land from one state to another. Often this is from grass covered to good rich soil ready for planting all those perennial edible plants you dream of.

This week's blog post - How to Get Started with Sheet Mulching is all about the basics of sheet mulching. Specifically, what sheet mulching is and the pros and cons of 3 common types of sheet mulching.

The 3 Types of Sheet Mulching Covered in the Blog Post:

1. Sheet mulching with cardboard
2. Sheet mulching with burlap bags
3. Sheet mulching with newspaper

Of course there are other materials that you could use (such as brown paper instead of newspaper) but in general these 3 materials are what most people seem use for sheet mulching.

So, do you use sheet mulching on your homestead? How do you use it? Leave a comment below with your answer!

Sheet Mulching with Cardboard



Let's dive into one of the 3 covered in the blog post - Sheet mulching with cardboard.

Cardboard is the material that I see people using the most. I think this is because it is relatively easy to find since it is a common waste product. But that does bring up some issues with cardboard.

- Cardboard can have a lot of tape and labels on it that can be time consuming to remove.
- Some of the dyes in cardboard can have toxins in them.

And of course sheet mulching in general takes a lot of material to cover any significant area. Finding enough cardboard despite it being relatively easy to find (compared to other materials) is a challenge.

But cardboard is still my go to material for sheet mulching.

I have found that it breaks down better than newspaper and seems to support more soil critters like earthworms than the other materials. But cardboard is also great at keeping grass and other plants from breaking through. But you do need to be careful to overlap the pieces of cardboard. I find it helps to push the grass or other vegetation down so it will start growing away from the nearest seem between 2 pieces of cardboard.

Overall, here are the pros and cons of using cardboard.

Pros:
- Generally easy to find, since it’s a common waste product.
- Breaks down within a year of being used for sheet mulching.
- Effective at suppressing grasses and other vegetation.
- Good for sheet mulching large, open areas.

Cons:
- Time consuming to remove tape, labels and staples.
- Dyed cardboard can contain heavy metals. Best not to use.

Bonus - How to Remove Tape from Cardboard



Tape on cardboard is annoying and sometimes I see people just put cardboard down with the tape still on so they don't have to try to remove it. But this just leaves tape in your soil to remove later. For a long time I would just pick at the tape and slowly peel it off. This works but is a pain...

Now I use a much quicker method. The above picture shows each step. First, I make quick slices around the edges of the tape using a sharp knife. Next, I use the knife to lift up the top layer of cardboard that the tape is attached to. Finally, I peel the thin top layer of cardboard and tape off as one piece.

Once you get the hang of it this method is easy and quick compared to most other options.

But I will also sometimes just let the cardboard get wet if I know it will then dry. Packing tape tends to just fall off if it goes through this process a couple times.

Get Started With Sheet Mulching


*Sheet mulching worked great around my shed and the evergreen huckleberry I planted next to the shed. Ultimately I will use sheet mulch to remove all the grass around the shed.

Make sure to visit the blog post to get more information on sheet mulching and how to get started.

Sheet mulching is not easy but it is a great method for preparing land for planting without directly disturbing the soil. This is my go to method for preparing land for planting fruit trees, berries, etc. But I don't use this method to mulch my vegetable gardens (but it is a good way to prepare land for a future garden).

I would love to hear how you use sheet mulching on your homestead! If you are one of the first to leave a comment on this thread there will likely be apples waiting for you. Plus, if you go to the blog post and are the first from permies to leave a "good" comment on my actual blog post I got a piece of pie for you! Just make sure to comment here too saying you commented on the blog post so I can give you your pie (if you use 2 separate names please tell me!).

Thank you!
 
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Cardboard is my favorite sheet mulch base.  I snatch up large pieces and have a stack in my shed for future use.  My removal of tape is a bit haphazard.  If it comes loose later, there is always a small disposal bucket handy.  Why remove staples?  Iron is a natural ingredient, eh?

I have access to a local farmer's manure pile, so I periodically fill my van with 5 gallon buckets and bring it home.  This farmer has a travelling petting zoo, so the manure has all sorts of animal poo, but all nicely mixed with straw.  His farm has a weed problem and he likely uses all sorts of meds on his animals.  I'm vigilant removing the sprouting weeds, and hopeful that my healthy stewardship promotes fungal remediation of the latter issue.  (Farmers without these issues use their own manure, so it's not available to me.)  I mix the manure with leaf mulch, and then plant bush beans or lentils, no matter what goes in later.  The beans produce like mad, despite being browsed by the deer.

When I build new beds, a major consideration is low maintenance going forward.  So I have a stack of aluminum siding pieces that I install as edging and a mowing strip.  No weed-eating.  Not as nice as the brick strip in my in-town gardens, but. oh well.  
 
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Nice timely post. I've done about 200 feet of rows in this manner so far: Rented a sod cutter to slice out two side-by-side paths, then flipped them out face down beside the exposed earth. I added compost, cheap top soil, and some forest soil to the "ditch" between the flipped sod and covered it all in cardboard and wood chips. My hope is that this will make a supercharged planting row that draws worms to start working all the amendments into the silty compacted soil beneath the safety of the cardboard.

I'll be letting a patch of grass grow tall the next couple months so I can chop it down and use your sheet mulching technique with cardboard on top so I can turn the area into a wildflower pollinator bed instead of just lawn. This will be on my septic system field, and I'm sure there's a joke in there somewhere about poop and flowers.
 
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Sheet mulching with cardboard is one of my favorite methods for starting new areas and maintaining weed free paths in between my raised beds. I have to say I always get a giggle when people mention newspaper or nylons in gardening. I haven't had access to either of these things since the 90's.
 
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I don't sheet mulch with any of these materials--I use paper sacks from the grocery store and that my chicken feed comes in. They break down within a few months if I do just one layer, but that's usually enough to smother most things if I put enough mulch on it. Hopefully the paper sacks aren't toxic--I'm afraid to look!
 
Daron Williams
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Ruth Meyers wrote:Cardboard is my favorite sheet mulch base.  I snatch up large pieces and have a stack in my shed for future use.  My removal of tape is a bit haphazard.  If it comes loose later, there is always a small disposal bucket handy.  Why remove staples?  Iron is a natural ingredient, eh?

I have access to a local farmer's manure pile, so I periodically fill my van with 5 gallon buckets and bring it home.  This farmer has a travelling petting zoo, so the manure has all sorts of animal poo, but all nicely mixed with straw.  His farm has a weed problem and he likely uses all sorts of meds on his animals.  I'm vigilant removing the sprouting weeds, and hopeful that my healthy stewardship promotes fungal remediation of the latter issue.  (Farmers without these issues use their own manure, so it's not available to me.)  I mix the manure with leaf mulch, and then plant bush beans or lentils, no matter what goes in later.  The beans produce like mad, despite being browsed by the deer.

When I build new beds, a major consideration is low maintenance going forward.  So I have a stack of aluminum siding pieces that I install as edging and a mowing strip.  No weed-eating.  Not as nice as the brick strip in my in-town gardens, but. oh well.  



Thanks for the comment! Yeah, I get you on the staples but for me it is more of a case of being very cautious about sharp metal in the ground and my kids helping with the planting. Likely not an issue but I keep being paranoid about it. Sounds like you have a good system setup that works great for you. Thanks for sharing!
 
Daron Williams
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Matt Todd wrote:Nice timely post. I've done about 200 feet of rows in this manner so far: Rented a sod cutter to slice out two side-by-side paths, then flipped them out face down beside the exposed earth. I added compost, cheap top soil, and some forest soil to the "ditch" between the flipped sod and covered it all in cardboard and wood chips. My hope is that this will make a supercharged planting row that draws worms to start working all the amendments into the silty compacted soil beneath the safety of the cardboard.

I'll be letting a patch of grass grow tall the next couple months so I can chop it down and use your sheet mulching technique with cardboard on top so I can turn the area into a wildflower pollinator bed instead of just lawn. This will be on my septic system field, and I'm sure there's a joke in there somewhere about poop and flowers.



Thank you and thanks for the comment over on the blog! Pie for you! Sounds like your system should work well. Having a mix of materials is good. Thanks for sharing!
 
Daron Williams
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Stacy Witscher wrote:Sheet mulching with cardboard is one of my favorite methods for starting new areas and maintaining weed free paths in between my raised beds. I have to say I always get a giggle when people mention newspaper or nylons in gardening. I haven't had access to either of these things since the 90's.



Yeah, I would not have any newspaper except one of my work colleagues gets multiple newspapers delivered to his house each day. He brings me boxes of paper when I need it. Basically an unlimited supply!

But I have also used free newspaper from some places. I just get them at the end of the day right before the place is closing. I like to have newspaper around for sheet mulching next to existing plants. Cardboard sometimes is a pain close in to existing plants.

Thanks for sharing!
 
Daron Williams
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Nicole Alderman wrote:I don't sheet mulch with any of these materials--I use paper sacks from the grocery store and that my chicken feed comes in. They break down within a few months if I do just one layer, but that's usually enough to smother most things if I put enough mulch on it. Hopefully the paper sacks aren't toxic--I'm afraid to look!



I use paper sacks from the grocery store too! They do really work great and I kinda lump them in with the newspaper but they are more in between newspaper and cardboard.

The toxic issue is a hard one... A lot of sheet mulching materials could have this issue. I avoid brightly colored materials due to some research that showed those bright colors being toxic. But overall my view is that by creating a good environment for fungi that any toxic materials will be neutralized by the fungi. But this does mean that I don't sheet mulch the same area more than once. I only use sheet mulching for site prep not for ongoing maintenance. For existing planting areas I just weed by hand and add more mulch afterwords. This works for me and this way any one area is only having cardboard, paper, etc. placed there once which to me is a very low potential risk. But I know other people disagree with that and don't want to use these materials at all. Which of course is their choice!

Thanks for sharing!
 
Ruth Meyers
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Paper sacks!  Those are too valuable in my household, as well as hard to come by.  I use mine repeatedly for paper recycling and to line my kitchen trash bin.  (No plastic products please.)

Do you have access to your municipal recycling center?  If I had need for newspaper, that's where I'd scrounge.

When I learned about understory planting a few years ago, when putting in fruit trees, I had an abundance if Iris rhizomes.  That worked really nicely.  They protect the trunk, they don't need any care, keep the weeds at bay, and provide spring beauty.
 
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I used paper bags last year around my tomato beds. On top of the paper bags I applied about 6" of straw, then decomposing wood chips.  The same area this year is rich, black soil about 6" in depth. I plan to use that same method again for my newly built garden areas which are heavy clay. I'll likely add a few inches of composted manure on top of the straw this time, tho.
 
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We are gradually reclaiming very poor grazing areas so mulching is a must. I follow what the late, great BM said about newspaper cos there sure ain't nothing in them of any worth of interest  the thought of all those politicians faces ROTTING AWAY under a layer of hay makes me happy.

We used landscape fabric in some areas where we needed to move around a lot (very very wet winters) and now that is coming up I an putting in corn and mulching with hay. I know straw would be better but it is unattainable here.

Collection of leaves in huge quantities is possible here and we have coppiced chestnut and sycamore which we shred to cover compost and newspaper around the  bases of all our fruit trees.

The biggest problem with mulchng is the collection of enough materials. My husband asked me how much I needed. I told him that when he had collected enough to cover the entire finca with 1 metre of material he could take a year off.

He is still collecting.....
 
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Clean cardboard is a mainstay for me, but I often times do well just starting with a thick layer of leaves.  Last fall we got caught by a heavy early snow storm and so many people (me included) had to do some of our leaf moving duties in the spring.  Because of it my town's transfer station has a giant pile of leaves that I can grab.  Voila, a new garden bed is being born because of it.  Wet leaves mat wonderfully and they break down to make lovely rich soil.  I've read that some folks use only leaves to fertilize their annual veg gardens with great results, which makes good sense to me from what I've seen.  The worms crave the stuff too.  

I prefer doing this in the fall and letting it all overwinter, but I can't pass on opportunities to take home piles of leaves!
 
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Cardboard for me, and I have a local discount store that waves me into the back to take as many of their empty boxes as I want!   I leave with quite a load every time.   Feeling blessed.
 
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I just used actual cotton sheets. I work at a Hot Springs/hotel and they always have a bunch of mismatched sets in the up for grabs box. I also use a lot of leaves and then top it with twigs/wood chip. I harvested the materials from the local refuse transfer site that is just down the road from the Hot Springs(I really hate to go home with an empty truck) . I have also added goat, chicken and sheep manure and bedding in the past. I am constantly adding sheet mulch as the grass starts to come in. My original granite soil has become dark rich humus teaming with life. I also like to sheetmulch on contour. These areas become swales and then later terraces as I mulch the ditch in to get larger areas .I have laid rotting logs down, manure and then sheetmulched that all on contour many times as well. This does take a year or two to become ready for plants though. It works well for me.
 
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I have two questions. I am in South Carolina zone 8a.
1. We have a running type of grass that invades everything. I runs deep and if you don't pull it out of the wood chips is will take over quickly. Any suggestions to win the war to eliminate it?
2. I heard Paul Gautschi say that you should use construction paper, like what is laid down to protect floors, because it does not leave nearly as much space under it and the grass not having air suffocates better.
Does anyone have any experience with paper verses cardboard?

One half of the cinder block area was prepared by removing all the grass then sheeting with cardboard and covered with grass clippings and pine straw and the grass stills makes it way in even though it did take over a year. The other half was not covered with a barrier and the grass was not pulled up. We have about 16 inches of pine straw and grass clippings covering. the grass comes through we just keep pulling it out as we see it.

A great source for card board for me is a mattress store nearby.
Also the chips, see picture of our back yard beginning to look like an orchard/garden, came from a tree service working on our street. We asked them and they gladly dumped them.
We called tree services, they are very friendly. The take our name, number and address but we still have not received any wood chips. Our faith is hanging in there.
FutureOrchardGarden.jpg
[Thumbnail for FutureOrchardGarden.jpg]
3 apple, 3 peach, 1 cherry with 4 varieties grafted and in my mind a 30ft square garden.
 
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I just used cardboard to sheet mulch two raised beds. No amount of mulching with straw/twigs/leaves was stopping the beds from being overgrown. I had been saving cardboard all winter to use in the yard, as well as being a cardboard dump for my friends too.

Before putting down the cardboard I gently removed the dry mulch I had previously spread.  I made sure to not disturb the wetter, rotting layer of the mulch.  Then I put down the layer of cardboard.   It took about half of my stash to cover the two 4 x 8 beds with 6" overlapping between individual cardboard sheets.  After the cardboard was down, I put the loose mulch back on top.  The beds will be planted out in a week or so.  Winter squash and herbs, all from seedlings in 2" pots I have made myself.  

    The whole process was easy and fun.  No digging.  No cutting down plants.  Just hanging out in the sunshine cutting up boxes and tossing mulch around.  
 
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I'm a cardboard fan. I too let it get soaked by the rain so the tape and any staples pull off easily. It stays in place better if you soak it with a garden hose - I'm in a windy area so that's important for me or I'm sprinting across the field!
After that I throw on chicken coop litter and leaves and whatever else I can get my hands on and it sits for months before I turn it into a garden bed.
I found this website for free cardboard but alot of it might have ink and other nasty stuff. I don't use colored boxes either, like most everybody else.

https://firstquarterfinance.com/where-to-get-free-cardboard/
 
Leslie Russell
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Ed Bradley wrote:I have two questions. I am in South Carolina zone 8a.
1. We have a running type of grass that invades everything. I runs deep and if you don't pull it out of the wood chips is will take over quickly. Any suggestions to win the war to eliminate it?



I feel your pain, Ed. I'm in Florida and we're have it too. I let my 4x12 raised bed get overrun while I was finishing a chicken coop addition and kept looking at the grass and tickseed taking over and I'd say to myself "you're gonna pay for that" and pay I did.
I pull it out as far down as I can get it, repeat, repeat, repeat. I've been jamming dead palm stalks around the walls where it's the worst and that's helping alot.
 
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Some cons using cardboard not mentioned:

- really only good on flat ground.
- not good in windy areas unless you really weigh it down.
- takes FOREVER to break down in dry climates unless you water it.
- if you stack up a couple layers it is really, really slippery on a slope.

I use cotton batts, natural fiber rugs that are useless anywhere else (or full of moth damage!) - really anything natural that I come across, then cover with shredded cedar bark.  Works the best in my area.

Sandy
 
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Leslie Russell wrote:I'm a cardboard fan. I too let it get soaked by the rain so the tape and any staples pull off easily. It stays in place better if you soak it with a garden hose - I'm in a windy area so that's important for me or I'm sprinting across the field!
After that I throw on chicken coop litter and leaves and whatever else I can get my hands on and it sits for months before I turn it into a garden bed.
I found this website for free cardboard but alot of it might have ink and other nasty stuff. I don't use colored boxes either, like most everybody else.

https://firstquarterfinance.com/where-to-get-free-cardboard/



I had to read all the posts and found that you beat me to it.  I used to go through the work of cutting out labels and stripping tape. Now I simply get out the house and start setting it down.  In a few minutes the tape peels right off.  It takes a fraction of the time and is 100 % effective.  

I had a garden bed that I half sheet mulched 5 weeks ago.  The non sheet munched side had a 6 to 12 inch growth of weeds, and the sheet munched side had only a few tiny to small weeds.  I was impressed.
 
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I really like Morag Gamble's approach to sheet mulching, where possible-- I modify slightly because my waste straw is full of seeds. I put straw and horse manure down directly on the grass (the two items I can get free) directly onto the grass/sand), then sheet mulch with cardboard, then woodchips on top. I find it is much much better for weed control and improving the soil than putting cardboard directly on my extremely persistent, very strong grass. I bought in woodchips for the first time this year, and it worked really well but was too expensive to do over our whole acre, so I did my annual garden (about 300m2) and our oldest section of food forest. In the new section, I am just doing cardboard plus manure, and it improves the soil enough for sour fig (rather than grass) to take over before the weed seed from the manure starts taking over.
 
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I sheet mulch a lot largely because I'm battling indestructible grass that sends runners all through my garden beds. Cardboard is often treated with formaldehyde to prevent it breaking down and getting mouldy so I tend not to use it.

I get boxes and boxes of day old newspapers from the local supermarket. I open them up and lay them straight down. It's tough on a windy day, so I have to pick my weather.

I've been redoing my pathways using this technique and covering it with branches from some trees I had to chop, and then covered that with wood chip mulch I had dumped on site in the fall.

In the actual grow beds I've used newspaper in places, especially in the outer perimeters where there is a lot of grass pressure and horsetail. It lasts a year before the grass punches through an entire newspaper. 3 years before it's gone completely. Last fall, I covered an entire bed, and then put clean compost on top to direct seed into this spring. I'm interested to see how effective it is at keeping the grass at bay.

I noticed over the weekend a few onions I missed punching through newspaper sheet mulch so I think I'm laying it down too thin.

I found slugs love to eat the newspaper. It's an effective diversion crop for me. I've also found oyster mushrooms eat the newspaper too. In my grow beds I am as much sheet composting as I am sheet mulching so I actually want this accelerated break down.
 
Nick Kitchener
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Jo Hunter wrote:I really like Morag Gamble's approach to sheet mulching, where possible-- I modify slightly because my waste straw is full of seeds. I put straw and horse manure down directly on the grass (the two items I can get free) directly onto the grass/sand), then sheet mulch with cardboard, then woodchips on top. I find it is much much better for weed control and improving the soil than putting cardboard directly on my extremely persistent, very strong grass. I bought in woodchips for the first time this year, and it worked really well but was too expensive to do over our whole acre, so I did my annual garden (about 300m2) and our oldest section of food forest. In the new section, I am just doing cardboard plus manure, and it improves the soil enough for sour fig (rather than grass) to take over before the weed seed from the manure starts taking over.



Last year I ran an experimental sheet mulch with hay on top of newspaper. the hay seeds germinated en masse but died after a few weeks I think because they couldn't get their roots established. I was wanting to test the common assertion that hay is no good as a mulch because of the weed seeds. In the future I will be using hay if I can get it for free because it really isn't an issue if it's thick enough, and it breaks down faster than straw.
 
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I use cardboard and newspaper as that is what I have access to.  On top of that, it's 8 to 12 inches of wood chips.  In central Florida (semi-tropical), it takes a few months for the cardboard to break down and the grasses and dollar weed to start peeking through.  When I first started sheet mulching, I thought Geoff Lawton's recommendations of how thick to sheet mulch were a bit much.....but now I know better...LOL....Geoff is right.  It keeps things at bay for a longer period of time.
 
Leslie Russell
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Dawna Janda wrote:I use cardboard and newspaper as that is what I have access to.  On top of that, it's 8 to 12 inches of wood chips.  In central Florida (semi-tropical), it takes a few months for the cardboard to break down and the grasses and dollar weed to start peeking through.  When I first started sheet mulching, I thought Geoff Lawton's recommendations of how thick to sheet mulch were a bit much.....but now I know better...LOL....Geoff is right.  It keeps things at bay for a longer period of time.


Hi Dawna, I'm in west central Florida and I've got the same grass and weed problems. It takes an act of God to kill them. Mostly I just manage to suffocate them for a little while. If any light gets through and I don't catch it they're up and running again. Grrrr.
 
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In Wisconsin I had a large area that was my pumpkin patch and I laid down huge pieces of cardboard every year to control weeds.  I would cut holes for planting the baby vines (not just pumpkins, I'd let tomatoes sprawl on the ground, other squashes and sometimes a patch of sweet corn) and cover the cardboard with straw to make it look nice.  

After the carboard was laid out I'd walk around and stab it with my gardening knife to make openings for rain to get through.  I'd try to visit it after a soaking rain, to poke holes anywhere water was puddling.  

The cardboard always disappeared by the next spring.
 
Leslie Russell
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I have so much wood around here that I could use if only I had a chipper. Does anyone have one or used one? Are they difficult to use and how dangerous are they?
 
Ruth Meyers
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Leslie,

I'm not good at starting gas powered machines, so I decided to start with a small electric chipper/shredder.
There was one choice - the Sun Joe 14 amp.  It takes 1.5 inch material; which is pretty good for my use.  I cut a lot of volunteer saplings, and always had a junk stack of small branches offering perfect habitat for copperheads.  

It cost about $130, and has been well worth it.  It's simple to use and easy enough to clear if it gets jammed.  I'm using it on two properties and it keeps humming away.  

A larger gas-powered unit starts costing $500 and up.
 
Julia Winter
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Leslie Russell wrote:I have so much wood around here that I could use if only I had a chipper. Does anyone have one or used one? Are they difficult to use and how dangerous are they?



You might want to look into renting a chipper.  They are the kind of thing you need use only a few times a year, it can make more sense to rent one than buy one.

They are noisy and you should wear hearing protection.  They throw bits all over and you should wear eye protection.  They could shred your hand, but you'd have to bypass the safety features for that.  If you feed big sticks into a chipper for hours, your arms get tired and the vibration can get to you.  Generally though it's not a big deal to use a chipper.

I should note that Paul (Wheaton) is not a fan of chippers and thinks bigger wood should go into hugelkultur and smaller twigs should be rough mulch.
 
Mandy Launchbury-Rainey
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Wood chippers must be safe because my husband lets me use ours.
Under a certain amount of supervision.
 
Dawna Janda
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Leslie Russell wrote:I have so much wood around here that I could use if only I had a chipper. Does anyone have one or used one? Are they difficult to use and how dangerous are they?



Howdy neighbor!  Since the wood chips usually decompose fairly quickly here and the chop and drop became too tedious for my carpal tunnel hands, I decided I wanted a wood chipper.  So, for my birthday present last year my husband purchased a PowerSmart Electric Chipper (model PS10).  (He's a keeper for certain.)  It can handle branches up to 1 5/8" across which is all we need.  I chop up banana leaves in it too.  I use eye and ear protection.  Anything larger than 1 5/8" I use for path markers in my food forest, or save for my raised bed Hugelkultur.  I also will lay short logs in my food forest to decompose and give shelter to the soil dwelling critters.  
 
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We've had a great deal of woody material to clear. One year we rented a 6" chipper: it was amazing. However, stockpiling all the material for the chipper took space and created habitat for snakes and birds. I didn't want to get to a situation where there were bird nests to disturb or copperheads to surprise me when working on the pile. We invested in a 3" Patriot Chipper shredder. It's definitely been worth it.  While 3" may sound like a large diameter, it helps get around branch forks and angles in the wood, as well as swallowing canopy.

There are some videos showing Patriot using the chipper to process cardboard for worm bedding (via the hopper, if i recall correctly).

http://www.patriot-products-inc.com/P/36/WoodChipperShredder10hpGas

Patriot's support is great.  The manual is written well and warns you about most of the stupid things i ended up doing anyway. (Blocking the outflow and getting it jammed up with chips, dropping a bolt into the chipping chamber.) They  advised me to try a telescoping rod with a magnet to find the dropped bolt, which worked well. I'm at a point where i need to sharpen the blades again and maintain it. I do wear the same helmet, ear guard, and mesh visor as one would with using a chainsaw, and i am glad of it.

I can't imagine running out of chippable material where i am, even if i manage to eradicate the shrubby invasives that prevent native understory plants from thriving, so it's been a great investment for us.
 
Leslie Russell
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Dawna Janda wrote:

Leslie Russell wrote:I have so much wood around here that I could use if only I had a chipper. Does anyone have one or used one? Are they difficult to use and how dangerous are they?



Howdy neighbor!  Since the wood chips usually decompose fairly quickly here and the chop and drop became too tedious for my carpal tunnel hands, I decided I wanted a wood chipper.  So, for my birthday present last year my husband purchased a PowerSmart Electric Chipper (model PS10).  (He's a keeper for certain.)  It can handle branches up to 1 5/8" across which is all we need.  I chop up banana leaves in it too.  I use eye and ear protection.  Anything larger than 1 5/8" I use for path markers in my food forest, or save for my raised bed Hugelkultur.  I also will lay short logs in my food forest to decompose and give shelter to the soil dwelling critters.  



I've been poking around trying to get the very best price on a chipper and because I have a little sun joe pressure washer that's pretty awesome I opted for one of theirs. Their customer service is very good, too. Right now they've got a sitewide 25% off any order and shipping is always free on orders over $75. I ended up paying $104!!

I've got big logs (most go into hugel beds) and a lot of smaller stuff, and being on 5 mostly wild acres I'll have enough for beds AND mulch. Yippee! I'm going to love this puppy.
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