I’m just about to embark on tidying up the storage end of my allotment. I can’t say it’s a task I’m looking forward to but it is one of those jobs that will make life easier during the hectic growing season. This part of the plot is the only bit that we left as arranged by the previous tenants. We aren’t allowed sheds on the site so the previous tenants had erected a makeshift wooden fence behind which all my tools and canes etc are stored. This has worked fine over the last year, it’s just by the end of the summer it does get a bit overgrown with weeds. So I need to get in there and tackle the nettles and the stems of an old plum tree that keep pushing through.
The main problem with this part of the plot was the grass path between my planting beds and the storage area. We don’t have a strimmer and it proved very difficult to keep on top of the grass, so much so that after a two week holiday I came back to find that the hosepipe had been swallowed up by the grass. It took a good couple of minutes to extricate the hose. It was at this point I thought that I really needed to do something about the path and the occasional trim with garden shears clearly wasn’t good enough. Of course I never got round to doing anything, I had plenty of other demands on my time.
However, this year one of my New Year’s resolutions is to get rid of the grass. I’m going to skim off the surface layer of grass and put down some weed membrane and cover it with chipped bark like the other paths on the plot. Thinking about doing this has reminded me of the lengths we went to last year to get the woodchip. I had finished laying the weed membrane and putting in wooden planks for the paths by the start of March and then started looking for something to cover the paths. We knew it would be too expensive to buy woodchip from garden centres. I had a look on the internet and found a few sites but even these worked out at £150. I contacted several local tree surgeons who sounded interested in getting rid of some woodchip rather than having to pay to dispose of it. Unfortunately, none of them were keen enough to actually turn up and drop any off. So by April we still had nothing on the membrane but then Wellyman spotted mounds of chipped bark lining the wooded verge of a local dual carriageway that had been left by the local council after tree cutting.
So that Sunday we spent 3 hours collecting 2 tonnes of woodchip and filling green waste bags and stuffing them in the boot. We parked in laybys so we were safe and amusingly we weren’t the only ones doing it. People driving past must have wondered why there was a sudden demand for woodchip. The main problem was that once you’re on this particular stretch of road you have to keep going for 10 miles until you can turn around. We made 6 trips and did over 100 miles!!! We weren’t in the best of moods by the time we’d finished but the paths were covered and for free (fortunately Wellyman has a car with work so he doesn’t have to pay for the fuel).
This year I will have only one path that needs covering but I’m already on the look out for signs of the local council chopping down trees. I’d love to hear if anyone has done something similar, in the quest to save money, create a special look or just in the spirit of recycling. Gardeners are nothing if not resourceful!
Our local sawmill sells ton bags for about 15 quid and I give our local handyman a bit towards his petrol money to bring me a bag on his trailer when he’s down there collecting wood for his projects. Not quite as resourceful as finding them for free though!
I’d love woodchip paths but as you say, it’s so expensive to buy. I haven’t yet come across any piles which we can help ourselves to.
Pauline Mulligan said:
When I was teaching woodcarving at night school, it was “teacher’s perks” that I swept the floor at the end of the lesson and brought all the chippings home with me to make the path in our woodland! Now I have retired, I will have to find another source!
jacqui brocklehurst said:
Hi Wellywoman I am a new blogger, just getting to grips with the whole thing and couldnt resist having a peek at yours, its fab!
I too have decided this is the year for putting lots of woodchip down as I always lose control of the allotment especially round the fruit trees and bushes.
I have a friend who is a tree surgeon and dropped of several tonnes, it saves him money because he has to pay to dispose of it and helps me out no end.
Keep trying local tree people and hopefully you will find a good one.
elaine rickett said:
In the raised bed area of my garden at home we have used shredded bark – which has to be topped up every year – as it soon rots down. There is usually a bogof on the bark so it only costs about a fiver to top-up. The best thing about it is the smell when it is newly laid. I have never seen piles of chipped bark by the roadside but if I had I would have no compunction in bagging it up.
I’m glad it’s not just me!
(Shhhh – the councils are probably monitoring blogs for traces of wood chip smugglers….)
Bridget Foy said:
I really like your blog so I have nominated you for the Versatile Blogger Award. Check my blog for details of the award.
Janet at Planticru Notes said:
I can remember doing the same with tonnes of gravel for paths in our last garden. At least the 20 tonnes was delivered to the front and we only had to move it up the back. But the two of you must be feeling very satisfied and a bit tired now it’s all done.
We must be very lucky on our plot, a couple of times a year the council come and dump a load of bark chippings in the communal area, and we just have to wheelbarrow it to our plots. You have to be quick though and I missed the first lot this year but got some second time. Its very random though and you never know when its going to appear. Do you have a committee on the site, maybe you could contact the council, they must get loads spare.
I can’t believe you are not allowed a shed either!
Hi Annie, My plot is on a small village site, there is no committee and the council don’t unfortunately deliver anything to the site. They don’t collect wood chip up, they just leave it in piles to eventually rot down. I think it would probably cost more in labour to collect it. I think because the plots are fairly small sheds would take up too much space. It is a pain. The number of times I got soaked by rain showers last year because I had nowhere to shelter.
Brilliant and what a bonus that Wellyman did not have to pay petrol expenses. Years ago when we moved to present abode we negotiated with local council workers, to give us the bags of leaves that they were sweeping up. Saved them a journey and we got ingredients for free leaf mould. Was sometimes coming home after work though to find up to 30 bags or more of leaves blocking the driveway 🙂
hi Great blog, I am having the same issue this year with bark as you last year i cant find anyone willing enough to part with some, luckly i had some garden vouchers for christmas so that will help with the cost of bark. I had a post the other week about my bark perdicament you were very lucky to spot that when you did.
Oh, well spotted! And good for you tidying the storage area and getting rid of the grass. We no longer have a working strimmer either, and it certainly makes keeping the plot tidy an arduous task. Good luck finding a new source of woodchips, preferably without the extra miles!!
Bravo- give that man a coconut. Nothing like ingenuity. Just been laying weed membrane myself (in windy weather!) Ccomes in 2 kinds. Large soft cloth rectangles or rolls of plastic coated, cut-along-the-dotted-line which frays with a blunt stanley knife. 😉
The Green Lady said:
They were probably happy you took it as it’s quite a job for them to shovel it up and move it. We contacted the council and they happily dropped off a trailer load to the community centre garden. We used it for all out paths. Thanks for your comment WellyWoman I think the problem must be because you are using wordpress, though I still have no idea how to fix it!