Wood Chips

We do our best to use everything we take out of the yard.  When a downed tree is straight, without disease, it is saved for making lumber.  The “bad” or leftover bits that are larger than 4.5 inches is turned into firewood.  And the remaining branches and/or canopy is turned into wood chips.

Making mulch wood chips with the DR Power Chipper and Ranger
Making mulch wood chips with the DR Power Chipper and Ranger

Instead of buying bags of mulch and living with a huge brush pile I like to keep the yard’s resources re-giving.  Chipping is probably the easiest chore of all the woods-management things we do.  Almost anyone can push a stick through the chute.  My only recommendations are to wear ear protection and some sort of eye protection.  The wood chipper we have is pretty noisy when it is chipping and it puts a lot of fine debris in the air.

The benefits of wood chips are comparable to mulch.  The chips hold the moisture over the area they’re laid and can be used to detail landscaping.  Personally, I’m not a huge fan of mulch landscaping, but I do appreciate the value it brings to plant growth.  By holding the moisture soil doesn’t dry as quickly making it more assistive to the plants.  In the winter it provides a layer of protection from the cold and in the warmer months it can help to slow weeds.  It is definitely secondary to good soil, but mulch certainly raises the chances your garden will survive and thrive.

The Weeping Spruce have a fresh layer of wood chips before going through the Vermont winter
These Weeping Spruce have a fresh layer of wood chips before going through the Vermont winter

We use the a 16.5hp chipper from DR Power.  It is a 2014 model we bought right from the factory’s showroom in Vermont.  This DR Power chipper is closest to what we have, but a newer model.  I have zero complaints about the motor or chipping power, but this chipper is the most problematic of all the toys we utilize.  The most annoying one is how often the blade needs sharpening.  I’ve heard this is a common issue with DR Power’s chippers.  If you have a bench grinder, just make sure you have two blades.  When you take one off, sharpen the other for when it is time to use the next one.

Do not buy the cover.  It disintegrated within 12 months and a few months of that the chipper was in the garage.

Change the oil every 20-50 hours.  For me that’s about twice a year.  I try to check the oil level and viscosity before each chipping-fest and just go by sight now.

I got the longer chute and have had two issues with it.  The first one is my fault.  I accidentally flipped the chipper while towing it over a hill.  Fortunately I was going about 4 MPH and stopped before any major damage was done.  The chute was bent slightly.  The second one is super annoying though.  The adjustable top that allows one to change the height of the chip discharge continuously comes loose.  I have to take a wrench with me on every chip-fest, but the nuts don’t hold through the entire session.  I’m constantly having to adjust the top throughout the day.

All in all, I can’t say this is a bad chipper.  I haven’t put it on craigslist.  Although I’ve been considering a PTO chipper for my tractor, but I’m going to stick it out with the DR Power chipper a little while longer.