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I will be carrying out some heavy pruning of some over grown trees (mixture of deciduous, fruit and a few conifers) over the next few months.

I am already planning to save some of the thicker, straighter sections for woodwork, sculpture and log fires, most of the thinner stuff will probably end up going through a shredder.

I've read here that it can take a long time for the wood to decompose.

So My question is, what beneficial use could I put a substantial amount of chipped wood to? Mulch? Bottom layer of raised beds perhaps?

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As a mulch in the top of flower or veg beds, around fruit bushes as a weed suppressant, and keeps in moisture. Don't waste it underneath. I put clippings over my rhubarb crowns for the winter as a bit of protection. As a soft path over compacted soil on an allotment. On top of a weed membrane as a semi formal path between beds. ok it won't last more than a couple of years, but can then be topped up with more, or swept up and composted before being replaced. I've a load I'm about to put around my strawberries instead of straw for when then fruit to keep them clean. The conifer will smell lovely when freshly cut. You could also sell bags to your neighbours if you have that much, if not as an income for yourself then donate monies to a local charity? Give it away to a elderly residential home or local school for similar uses as your own. Some pay a tidy sum for bark and chipping as a mulch. Some wood repels insects and spiders - would any of that fit the bill? I'm sure others will have uses too.

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Another option is to shred the branches with a shredder and put it in your compost. It will decompose much faster if shredded. If you don't have a compost bin, you can bury them underground and let it decompose there on it's own.

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Tree mulch, and wood chips are used in the Back to Eden garden method which uses the chips to mulch, and slowly release decomposing nutrient to the soil. It's combined with a nitrogen source such as composted animal manure.

If you have specific hardwood species such as oak, you can use 3-6 inch diameter branches for mushroom cultivation, though these need to be grabbed at leaf fall to maximise the amount of carbohydrates available to the fungi.

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