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Compost wood chips. How long and how to make it fast?

Composting is a great way to recycle your food scraps and yard waste into valuable fertilizer for your garden.

The problem with composting is that it takes time, effort, and space to do it right. 

Wood chips are the perfect solution because they are super easy to use in your compost pile or bin. They decompose fast so you can get back on track quickly! Plus they provide valuable nutrients for your plants. So if you’re looking for an easy way to start composting, let read our tips to make good for compost from wood chips.

Are wood chips good for compost?

Are wood chips good for compost?

Wood chips are a great mulch to use around your garden and can be supplemented with grass clippings or other organic material. You don’t want to use them as mulch around your garden plants, but rather you want to put them in the compost heap. Wood chips are very slow to decompose and can take up to two years in a compost heap before the material is broken down

How to compost wood chips fast

Here we want to speed up this process and provide you with the steps to do it.

Step 1: Get the Wood Chips 

If you happen to own a chipper/shredder, first cut the wood chips into small pieces. If you don’t have a chipper/shredder, just purchase the mulch from your local garden supplier.

Get the Wood Chips

>>> Best Chipper Shredder for Composting

Step 2: Sheet Composting

You’re then collecting wood chips is as simple as mowing the lawn and then running the chips through your chipper.  For those of us without a chipper, we will need need to either hire someone to come and chip our tree debris with a chipper or collect it ourselves. 

After the chips are chopped up into small pieces, they need to be broken down further. This can be done either by hand with a pitchforkorck or by barrowrowing barrow rowing the chipped material into a compost-turning borrower.

Sheet Composting – How to compost wood chips fast

Step 3: Prepare the Compost Heap 

Wood chips are very dense and need to be mixed with air in order for them to break down into rich humus. A sheet composting method can be used to accomplish this task. 

Fold your boxes clear sides out so that they resemble something like a checkerboard pattern. This allows for good airflow and helps speed up the decomposition process. 

Turn the compost as much as possible to introduce oxygen and move it around so that it breaks down evenly. After you have done this, place your wood chips in the middle of your pile about eight to twelve inches deep. 

Step 4: Let the Composting Begin! 

The compost heap should be monitored on a regular basis. You will need to turn the compost at least every week or two in order for it to decompose properly. Remember, you are looking for dark brown material that smells sweet. If you notice any green material, your compost is too wet and may start fermenting. 

Sprinkle some water and turn the compost again in order to get it to decompose. If you notice any white material, your compost is too dry and needs more moisture. Sprinkle some water on the top and mix. Also, make sure that anything that wasn’t wood chips such as sticks or debris has been removed from the pile when you turn it. 

Also, it is important not to over-water either. If the compost pile can hold its own weight in water, you may consider cutting back on the amount of water that you are adding.

Step 5: Let Nature Do Its Work

Congratulations! You have successfully completed composting wood chips and now have a rich fertilizer for your garden soil. If you choose to, you can break down your compost heap in the garden bed in which you want to plant in about two weeks. 

This will introduce the microorganisms that are contained in the compost into the soil and help jump-start your plant’s growth. Another option is to allow it to decompose for an additional week or two before breaking down the compost pile. 

Note: The wood chips may have a fishy smell when you mix them with compost in the garden bed. This is is especially useful when you are planting vegetables.

How long does it take wood chips to decompose?

How long does it take wood chips to decompose?

Wood chips take longer to decompose than other types of organic materials such as leaves and grass clippings. The majority of the time, wood chips take about one to three years to break down. When exposed to heat or moisture, it can decompose within days

Over time, wood chips will turn into humus, which is a nutrient-rich layer that improves the soil.

How To Use Your Finished Wood Chip Compost

Some notes you should know when using wood Chip Compost, including:

Water Care Carefully

It is important when using compost that you do not overwater your plants or overwater the soil in general. Wood chips are an excellent source of nutrients but lack one key element, water. If you notice your plant lacking energy, check the reservoir in your planter. If it is over–water, let some of the water drain out and wait until it comes down to a normal level.

How To Use Your Finished Wood Chip Compost

Don’t  Over fertilize

For the optimal health of your plants, you should fertilize only once every two weeks. If you notice that your plant has yellow leaves, this means it is either being over-fertilized or that it needs more water.

When to Plant 

Now you have successfully composted the wood chips,  your garden bed isis ready for planting. Be careful when adding the compost to your garden bed not to harm r your plants when you plant in it. It is recommended that you till the compost into the garden bed so the nutrients blend with the soil. If you have a composite, it is easy to mix it in your new garden bed before planting.

When to harvest

When harvest time comes around, you may find that your plants are overgrowing. This means it is harvest time to cut the plant back and fertilize the soil with some more compost. The remaining roots and vegetables can be used for an amazing compost tea!

Time to compost for next harvest

And finally, Don’t forget to compost at the end of the season and start again in spring!


What wood chips can I use for compost?

Wood chips can be used in compost to add organic matter and improve drainage. You could use the following types of wood chips if you have them available:

Oak, Maple, Hickory, Beech, or other hardwoods.

White/Red/Black Ash are harder to break down and should be used sparingly.

Conifers have a high acidity level and should not be considered as they tend to tie up nitrogen.

You should avoid using branches that contain nuts used for landscaping, these give off the oil that inhibits the growth of microorganisms.

Can I use freshly chipped wood as mulch?

Freshly chipped wood cannot be used as mulch for ornamental plantings. Fresh wood chips contain a compound called phenol that prevents a healthy root system from forming. 

The concentration of this compound is higher in fresh wood chips than in bark mulch or aged wood chips because it takes time for the phenol to break down. Freshly chipped wood mulch will not prevent weed growth because it does not act as an insulator. 

The mulch will also not retain soil moisture. While it does not prevent weed growth, a 2-inch layer of freshly chipped wood mulch will suppress weed growth long enough for the weed seed bank in the soil to die off.

Can old wood chips compost?

There is a lot of evidence that suggests that wood chips (and other high carbon materials such as sawdust) should not be added to compost heaps; in fact, some studies suggest that they can inhibit the composting process.

The main reason for not adding wood chips to compost heaps is due to the fact that wood chips are generally high in carbon whereas composting materials by their very nature are usually high in nitrogen. These two materials, therefore, have a very different ratio of carbon to nitrogen, and composting them together can lead to a reduction in the speed at which decomposition takes place.

Other reasons are that wood chips break down very slowly, taking a long time to compost and because they contain lignin, which is a complex organic polymer, the decomposition of wood chips results in very little humus.


Composting wood chips is a great way to add quality organic matter and nutrients back into your garden. If you have trouble with how to make compost wood chips, let a comment on what is your trouble, so that how we can help you get started with this sustainable gardening practice.

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