How To Make Mulch With A Wood Chipper

What Is Mulch?

Mulch is any material that is used on the top of soil in garden beds and natural areas that prevents weeds growth, adds nutrients, conserves moisture, and regulates temperature in the soil.  Adding mulch will also enhance the beauty of your plant beds and natural areas by giving them a consistent, uniform look. Wood mulch in the garden is an attractive, natural-looking, and inexpensive pathway material.

Mulch can be purchased at your local garden center or home store in a number of materials from colorized rubber to pine straw.  Pre-made mulch can however, be quite costly. Using pruned and fallen tree limbs–cleaned up from your yard–can be used to make your own mulch.

Making your own mulch will put keep yard waste that would normally go into a landfill in your yard.  Many of the organic mulch materials also act as a direct composting system.  Using organic materials to make your mulch will help add nutrients back into the soil.

How Much Mulch Do You Need?

Mulch is applied around trees, paths, flower beds, to prevent soil erosion on slopes, and in production areas for flower and vegetable crops. Mulch layers are normally two inches or more deep when applied.

Tree branches and large stems are rather coarse after chipping and tend to be used as a mulch at least three inches thick. The chips are used to conserve soil moisture, moderate soil temperature and suppress weed growth.

How Much Is A Yard of Mulch?

Mulch is usually calculated by the cubic yard.  One cubic yard of mulch covers 100 square feet at three inches deep. You can also use a standard equation where you find the total square footage of the beds you want to cover. Then divide the square footage by 100 to get the number of cubic yards required

Need to know how many cubic feet are in a cubic yard of mulch? There is 27 cubic feet in a cubic yard.

When Should You Mulch?

Generally, applying mulch can be done anytime during the year. The best time to mulch is once a year in early spring before weeds sprout. You can also add a second layer as a top dressing in late fall.  No matter what time of year you apply mulch to your garden beds and natural areas, you will need to keep adding to the top layer as the wood mulch as the wood will decompose and become part of the soil.

How To Make Mulch

3″ Chipper/Shredder - Northside Tool RentalA Chipper/Shredder

A Chipper/Shredder machine can handle smaller size branches from shrubbery and leaves and will pulverize the wood into small shreds that can also be used as mulch.  Here are a few advantages to using a chipper/shredder for making mulch:

  • Lower engine power needed
  • Highly effective in chopping and shredding yard waste
  • Suited to just about any organic material
  • Produces uniform fast-composting chips
  • Able to deal with foreign objects

Our Chipper/Shredder can handle branches up to 3 inches in diameter.

Limb Chipper

Chippers are made to chop or “chip” wood into small, nugget size pieces of wood.   Chippers can handle branches larger than 1 inch in diameter and cannot handle small shrubbery branches and leaves.  Wood chippers also cannot chip “green” wood.

For homeowners with a large number of trees that drop branches, a chipper is a great way to recycle debris. It’s able to grind tree branches nearly five inches diameter, and can create all the mulch nuggets you’ll ever need.


We rent 2 different sizes of Limb Chippers:

Limb Chipper – 6 inch will handle tree limbs up to 6 inches in diameter

Limb Chipper – 12 inch is a heavy duty chipper that will handle tree limbs up to 12 inches in diameter

Find out more about chipper/shredders and chippers by reading our article, Primary Considerations When Renting A Chipper or Chipper/Shredder.

How To Apply Your Mulch

Spread mulch to the the thickness desired, taking care to keep your mulch a few inches away from tree trunks and the crowns and stems of plants. If mulch is placed too closely to your plants and trees, mulch can retain moisture and cause rot.

Pest control companies recommend keeping wood mulch at least 12 inches away from the foundation of your home. Why not?  If there is poor drainage near the foundation, the added moisture will attract insects that prefer moist, dark environments and you can risk infestation in your home.

Mulch can also be a potential fire hazard if you live in an area prone to wildfires.

You can leave mulch in place indefinitely. Just scrape it aside if you want to plant in a mulched area.

Northside Tool Rental

Contact us to find out more about renting a chipper shredder or a limb chipper to make your own mulch.