Conifer cuttings as mulch.

Discussion in 'Compost, Fertilisers & Recycling' started by rustyroots, Apr 21, 2020.

  1. rustyroots

    rustyroots Total Gardener

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    Hi All,

    The neighbours both sides have a couple of big conifers that are over hanging into our garden and I want to cut them back. Presently there are no tips open to dispose of cuttings and green bin collections on hold. I am now thinking of putting them through the shredder and use as a mulch on the front herbaceous border. Everything I have read on the internet seems very contradicting .

    Can I put them straight on or should I leave for a while after shredding?

    Rusty
     
  2. ARMANDII

    ARMANDII Low Flying Administrator Staff Member

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    Actually, rusty, it's not, personally, I would do at all unless you want eventually to add to the acidity of your soil:dunno:, it also take a really, really, long time to decompose so all such conifer waste gets put in my Council Green Waste Bin:cat-kittyandsmiley::coffee:
     
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    • KFF

      KFF Total Gardener

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      Hi @rustyroots ,

      When I've used them as a mulch it's been around Pieris, because as @ARMANDII says they do increase acidity in the soil.

      The only other time I've used them is to use whole branches ( cut to size ) laid over tender/half hardies ( such as Fuchsias) as Winter protection and then removed as the Fuchsias start coming back to life in the spring so they don't have time to alter the soil.
       
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        Last edited: Apr 21, 2020
      • Alisa

        Alisa Gardener

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        Or maybe return cuttings to neighbours as an option.
         
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        • Freddy

          Freddy Miserable git, well known for it

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          Personally, I wouldn’t be over worried about any rise in acidity. From my experience, lowering the ph takes some doing, and is usually temporary.
           
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          • Kristen

            Kristen Under gardener

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            Me too, I've read a number of studies that say that Pine needles and chippings don't make a significant difference to pH

            I put chippings on my paths (veg patch and the like) and then a couple of years later when they are starting to deteriorate, as a path covering :), I put them on compost heap or direct onto the beds as a mulch ... and then look for more chippings for the paths.
             
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            • NigelJ

              NigelJ Total Gardener

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              I shred bits that fall off my conifers and stack them at the back of one of them, I also add weepings from the paths and flatroof that contain a lot of pine needles; leave them to decompose (slow) and then use as a mulch for acid loving plants.
               
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              • Sandy Ground

                Sandy Ground Total Gardener

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                There is a sticky in the rose section referring to conifer shreddings.

                As a matter of course nowadays, when I shred all of the cuttings from my conifers (thuja) in Autumn, I use them as a mulch around my roses. Thats because I discovered that they contain a parasitic fungus that attacks the fungus that causes black spot. I did this for the first time in Autumn 2018, and during the whole of 2019 not a bit of black spot was seen. Its too early to say if it has worked again this year. All I can say for certain is that right now, my roses have never been healthier.

                In regards to the lowering of the soils pH. Whilst it is a generally accepted opinion, I seriously doubt that it will lower them to cause problems depending on how alkaline the soil is in the first place.
                 
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                • Palustris

                  Palustris Total Gardener

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                  Having just put a good 6 to 9 inches depth of conifer shreddings on a piece of unused(as yet) garden I hope it rots down as quickly as the original stuff did when piled up. We have only been here 12 months so the first lot can only have been in a heap for that length of time at most. They had rotted down enough to be used as a mulch for all the flower beds.
                   
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                  • rustyroots

                    rustyroots Total Gardener

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                    Hi All,

                    Thanks for the replies. I could give the cuttings back to one side, but I wouldn’t to the other as she is a 70 year old in isolation at the moment. Presently she has no kitchen as it was being replaced and lockdown has put a halt to that. And on top of that her daughter works for the NHS and tested positive for COVID-19 last week. She would really stress about the tree so I have not told her about it, as she has enough going on. There are other trees (Apple, hawthorn, birch and cherry) that will be chopped back as well, so I think I will get it all down and see where we are and how much I have. I might use it all to top up the chicken run instead.

                    Rusty
                     
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                    • ARMANDII

                      ARMANDII Low Flying Administrator Staff Member

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                      :thumbsup:
                       
                    • pete

                      pete Growing a bit of this and a bit of that....

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                      I think as with compost, any shreddings will to some extent acidify the soil, but only temporarily.
                      A greater problem I can see is the using up of nitrogen as it decays, but again probably only temporarily.
                       
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                      • Glynne Williams

                        Glynne Williams Gardener

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                        We have coniferous material because that's what's growing here - I planted it! First to live here over 40 years ago so if soil was slightly alkaline (original rhododendrons dies even though planted with acidic compost!?) Now similar plants thriving, being treated the same way. Have used shreder for years and clippings from mine and others felled trees I must assume soil has lower pH. Too idle to test! Thus what I think is that I have to garden in the soil I've got!
                        I agree with what someone else said about clippings/shredding's depleting surface nitrogen, at least in first year. If I've got room I compost the stuff for longer adding remnants of fertiliser boxes when putting stuff in compost bin (sorry I bought a couple of them really as not as efficient as the old wooden heap!!)
                         
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