I had been looking for ways to get free wood chips and logs for a while, so that I can use them for flower beds, in the garden, amending soil, smothering Japanese Knotweed, and, of course, for bonfires. After doing some research, here is where I would recommend starting and where I’ve had success.
- Chip Drop
- Local Utility/Electric Company
- Local Arborist / Tree Service
- Free Mulch Program from AboutTrees.com
At first, I was skeptical, but I signed up for Chip Drop. I had no luck for a few months and even went on to Facebook and left a comment asking if anyone in the Pittsburgh area was actually receiving any deliveries. For a couple weeks, I would get periodic notifications from people in the area and all of them were saying that they were having no luck with Chip Drop. Shortly after this period of time, and almost eerily coincidental, I received a phone call from a local tree service who found me on the Chip Drop website. They wanted to deliver a load of wood chips to my house and they were only a few minutes away. I was at work, so I reiterated to him where I would like him to place the wood chips in my yard and then I gave him permission to go ahead and make the drop. Later that day, I came home from work and had a wonderful, huge load of wood chips in my yard where I had specified!
The next day, the same tree service called me back and said they had another load of wood chips and a load of logs for me if I wanted them. I obliged once again. He informed me this time it was all from one Silver Maple tree. I came home that night from work and saw that this was a huge tree and was approximately 45 years old. This is where you need to pay attention to the warnings on the website and where the comments on Facebook about directing this service to your worst enemies comes into play. The logs were enormous! Luckily, I have a small tractor with a front end loader for moving the five (5) large sections from the trunk. If you do not have a chainsaw or some sort of heavy equipment, you may very well regret signing up for this service. As for me, I am happy with and hooked on the service.
Each time you receive a delivery you are removed from the list. Therefore, if you want a chance to receive another load you must add your name back to the list on the website. Chip Drop offers options for incentivizing getting loads of wood chips from $0, $20, $40, $60, and $80 per delivery. So, this time I tried the $20 option just to see if it would work faster. I’m not sure if it helped, but I did get a call from a different tree service within about a month with a load of logs primarily. This was a similar situation to my encounter where the tree service was only a few minutes away when they called. This time the logs were much smaller and much more manageable, but the load contained very little mulch. I was still happy and have plans to build a hügelkultur with this load. More about that in a future post.
Last thing I will say about Chip Drop is that you can specify what kind of loads you want to receive:
- “I can take any load with just woodchips.”
- “I can take any load with just logs.”
- “I can take any load that’s mostly woodchips with a few logs.”
- “I can take any load of woodchips with a lot of logs.”
This time I want to just get mostly wood chips for my flower beds, so I have opted for options 1 and 3 with a $20 payment. I’m still waiting on this potential delivery, but I am convinced that it will be just a matter of time before it arrives.
Moving on, I have had little to no luck with the last three options I provided. I did contact the local utility company’s Vegetation Management department. This company is Duquesne Light and they reached back out to me a couple weeks later and confirmed that they do offer delivery of wood chips to their customers when they are trimming trees near their houses. I confirmed I would like to be added to their list of possible recipients of their wood chips, but I have not had a single delivery or phone call since this conversation a few months ago. I will be honest, I have not tried the third option of contacting a local arborist or tree service directly yet, but I have read from many people online that this normally works out with enough phone calls. For now, I have been having success with Chip Drop and have decided to postpone attempting this option. Lastly, I did sign up for AboutTrees.com’s Free Mulch Program, but I have had no success wit this (not even an email communication).
In conclusion, I’ve had the most luck, by far, with Chip Drop with a total of four (4) deliveries, so far, by two unique tree services. I would highly recommend trying this service if you want free or cheap wood chips and logs, but please be mindful of the option(s) you select and the equipment you have to use or move the material. For instance, if you don’t have a large yard or a driveway, you may have to have the load dropped on the street and that could be an issue…