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Convert Wood Waste into Functional and Attractive Landscape Additions

Convert Wood Waste into Functional and Attractive Landscape Additions

By Melinda Myers for Milorganite
Photographs by Melinda Myers, LLC

Tree and shrub trimmings can be challenging to manage. Many municipalities allow you to dispose of them at the local recycling center, but what a waste. Keeping this valuable resource on your property can help save money, improve your landscape, and boost its beauty. Here are some ideas to give these throwaways new purpose.

Use twigs and branches as the base of your compost pile. This layer adds air space beneath the pile, speeding up the composting process. Since woody trimmings are slow to decompose, keeping them separate from the rest of the pile will avoid slowing down decomposition. Further improve your composting efforts with these composting tips and video from Milorganite.

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Employ small flexible stems as support for tall or floppy flowers and vegetables. Weave them in amongst the plant stems to mask their presence and maintain a natural appearance.

Convert twigs and branches into woodchip mulch. Join with your neighbors to rent a chipper/shredder and take care of all your needs in one weekend. No need to store or maintain the equipment and you’ll save money by splitting the rental fee. And if you are looking for an excuse to buy another piece of landscape equipment, this may be a way to justify the expense.

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Get creative and make a wattle fence to provide a decorative divider between garden areas or along a pathway. This old tradition uses sturdy branches for posts and pliable stems of alder, willow, grapevines and others for the woven sides. Cut the stakes to a length equal to the desired height plus the length to be sunk into the ground. Use a mallet to pound the stakes in place every 1½ to 2 feet apart on straight stretches and about every foot along curved edges.

Use longer branches to create a variation of the traditional riggle or wriggle fence. The original riggle fences had three cross bars mounted onto sturdy posts. Long slender branches were woven alternately between the cross pieces creating an over-and-under pattern. Leave the tops untrimmed for a more natural appearance. A twist on this tradition may be to secure the long slender branches to an existing chain link fence or other structure to provide additional screening and natural look to the area.

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Trimmings make excellent trellises and arbors. The design depends on the available material, your construction skills and desired outcomes. Those with youngsters or who are young at heart may want to create a teepee plant support that also serves as a hideout for the kids. Use six to eight sturdy long branches to create the structure. Secure the branches about a foot from the top with twine. Set the poles in place leaving an opening for a doorway. Sink the base of the branches 4 to 6 inches into the soil for added stability. Wrap twine around the posts starting several inches above the soil and then every foot or two, leaving the doorway open. This creates a trellis for the pole beans, peas or other vines to grab hold and climb. 

Landscape your garden railway, fairy garden, gnome or zombie garden with landscape trimmings. Build walls, bridges or pathways from smaller pieces. Your imagination is the only limit.

Save yourself a trip to the recycling center and put wood waste to work in your garden. It is another way to add that personal touch or unique accent to any landscape.

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