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Sawdust is inexpensive, readily available, and has many practical uses in the garden. It often gets a bad rap for "stealing" nitrogen from growing plants, but when used properly it can actually support the growth of your plants by helping to improve your soil. Sawdust can also be used to store crops, repel pests, deter weeds, and is handy for cleaning up accidental spills.
Using sawdust in the garden is not without its problems. Like other wood products, as sawdust breaks down and decays it locks up important nutrients in the soil - namely nitrogen. Spreading raw or "green" sawdust in the garden can lead to a nitrogen deficiency resulting in the malnutrition of your plants. Fortunately, there are a couple of ways around this:
Walnut, cedar, and chemically treated wood should never be used on garden plants, but may be suitable for soaking up spills or creating garden paths. To source sawdust in your area, check with local lumberyards and tree removal companies. Many will offer sawdust for free (or at least very inexpensively), especially if you're willing to pick it up and haul it home yourself.
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Is pine sawdust/shavings good for making compost? I have chickens so nitrogen is not a problem.
If you are doing this, my only suggestion is be sure the wood isn't treated with chemicals..
Meaning if it is from your own trees, and you cut them down and got them into this format and you know that they were not treated repeatedly with chemicals or pesticides you should be OK.
But, if you got the lumber from a store and were making something with it and that is how you got the shavings/dust, double check with the store to make sure it wasn't treated wood or if it was what it was treated with...then research that chemical.
I am always nervous about chemicals leaching into my soil.
Yes you can compost pine sawdust. it is considered a brown addition. You can also consider making some pine sachets to put in your closet or dresser drawers, or shoes. Make them fancy by sewing with pretty fabric, or make them fast and functional by stuffing old socks with the sawdust. Have fun.
Have I made a major mistake in my flower bed? I just backfilled some holes in my flower bed with the sawdust and dirt from some ground up stumps from pine trees. The oldest of the stumps may have been five or 10 years old. The newest just three weeks old. I didn't think about the effect that the sawdust would have on the soil until I was about finished with the last hole which happened to be from a small cedar tree stump from about two years. At this point, I panicked and I decided to get some information on what effect this may have on the flower bed and any future plants. I had been piling grounded up leaves in this bed, so I have mixed them in also. I read you article about using sawdust in the garden. I am not feeling great about what I have done to my flower bed. Will I have to wait a year to plant? Will cow manure help?
Cedar is a type of pine. You should be ok.
As long as the bed is not next to the foundation of the house you are ok. You don't want termites.
I'm not sure anyone is really addressing the question you asked.
Most true gardeners will say not to mix more than a very small amount of sawdust in your flower/garden bed as it is slow to breakdown and robs nitrogen from your soil. Maybe the fact that most of the stumps were 10 years old may shorten the breakdown period but that is questionable. A small amount of cedar may not be a problem but still - there is still a breakdown period.
You may be able to add nitrogenous fertilizer and it may help it break down faster and give back to the soil some nitrogen. Then again, you may have to wait a year to plant your flowers.
I believe you should call or visit your agriculture agency and tell them what you have done and ask them for help. Google agriculture agency and your zip code for information. You may be able to get your soil tested and get recommendations on how to save your flower bed.
What? Can you elaborate on how cedar is a type of pine?
Cedar isn't a type of pine. Trying to learn about the relationships among plants by using common names is confusing. There are several trees called cedar that aren't closely related. If you're interested in the fascinating topic of botanical classification, you might audit a course at your local university or learn from a local botanical or native plant society.
I had 3 stumps ground down which left a lot of sawdust in the side of my house. My plan was to make a stone walkway and I do not want to grow grass or plant anything. Can I leave the sawdust as a base and put decorative stone and pavers on top of the sawdust?
You can, but here is what I was told when I asked that same question of a home inspector. DO NOT DO IT!
Why, I asked?
Because they can attract carpenter ants and termites was what he told me. Pittsburgh has issues with both of these, so you may not have these challenges and it will be OK.
He said to keep all branches, saw dust, get rid of stumps, etc.
I should knock very loudly on wood that we did as told and have not had termites or carpenter ants. Regular ants, yes, but those we have figured out how to prevent.
Sawdust will attract termites. This is not a good idea.
He said to keep all branches, saw dust, AWAY from the house AND get rid of stumps, etc.
Thank you. Very useful information
You are most welcome!
Can I use any kind of saw dust on the garden or is some saw dust bad for it?
Here's a great article on ThriftyFun about sawdust and your garden:
I would not use it near the house. It could have or attract termites.
I use some saw dust in my garden/yard but I am careful about where it came from. I believe the garden sites say not to use saw dust from treated wood but here is an excellent site for lots of information (I love Mother Earth articles):
Can I use cherry sawdust around my berry plants?
Slugs can easily eat lots of you plant leaves. There are many types of slug deterrents, sawdust is one all natural option. This is a page about sawdust to deter slugs.