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8 Smart Uses for Wood Chips – Recycling and Reusing Ideas

wood chip

If you work with wood, you’ll generate wood chips at some point. There are three basic ways you can get rid of them. You can grind them up and compost them. You can burn them. Or you can pay to have them hauled off. A fourth way worth considering is finding a new use for them around the house. We’ve outlined a handful of those.

Related reads: 10 Genius Re-Purposing Ideas for Your Wine Rack

1. Outdoor cooking

If you cook over charcoal, you’re already cooking over a hardened form of wood. Cooking over regular wood chips is a time-tested way to add a little extra flavor if used either in a grill proper or as chips in a smoker. Different kinds of wood impart different kinds of flavor, so you’ll want to read up on what kinds of food the chips you have go best with.

2. Landscaping mulch

You can spend a bunch of money and get bagged wood chips from a big box garden store, or you can take wood chips you have already and use those as mulch. Wood chips help the soil retain moisture and keep it cooler during the hottest parts of the day. They’re also great for helping prevent weeds from poking up.

landscaping mulch
Image credit: Flickr

3. Creating a path

The same qualities that make wood chips great as mulch make them great for laying down atop a path. They’ll help prevent weeds from growing over it and are better than breadcrumbs at letting people know where they’re supposed to walk. They are also great if you want to direct where people walk instead of letting them amble all over your property.

4. Fire starters

Pressed into paraffin, wood chips help make a great fire starter that you can use in emergencies or when camping. They might take a little longer to catch than sawdust, but they’ll also burn longer. That’s perfect if you’re camping in wetter or cooler conditions where you need longer contact between flames and kindling.

wood chip fire starter

5. Weed blocker

Wood chips, placed where you don’t want plants growing, block the sun from reaching the soil. They also create a physical barrier that weeds would have to expend precious energy growing through if they manage to germinate. It’s also true that wood chips can rob nutrients from the first couple of inches.

6. Animal bedding

Your outdoor animals will probably appreciate having an alternative place to lay down than the ground, which not only might be cold and wet but possibly put them into contact with pest insects. Cover the chips with a blanket, and while it’s not as soft as goose down, it’s more comfortable than bare rock.

animal bedding

7. Filling in muddy spots

Even if you don’t have paths to cover, you might still appreciate wood chips put down in low spots where water accumulates to give people a place to walk. Not only do wood chips create a drier place for people to walk, but they offer a good bit of traction.

8. Playset ground cover

If you’ve got a backyard playset for the kids, a thick layer of wood chips provides a good ground cushioning to absorb a lot of energy upon an inadvertent fall. If a child falls off a slide or a swing, it’ll help reduce the chance they get injured, and the severity of injury if they do. You’ll need quite a lot of them, but using ones you have on hand will make it affordable.

playset ground cover


Finding different ways to use wood chips left over from using a tool like an ax or a hatchet is a great way to deal with a waste product without the cost in terms of time and/or money of getting rid of it. Plus, it will save you money by allowing you to use material you have on hand rather than buying new from the store. This is a good starting list, and creative DIYers should have no problem matching their wood waste with some useful purpose.

We’ve also written a similar post on sawdust for you to read here

Image credit: Pink Sherbet Photography, Wikimedia

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