Concern about wood chips in planting area

Asked November 17, 2015, 4:54 PM EST

I just had a small cherry tree removed, and the stump also was removed with a stump grinder. I want to plant shrubs in the area vacated by the tree, but I am concerned about the fresh wood chips that are now mixed in with the soil. I have heard that the chips will rob the soil of nitrogen--is that true, and is it a significant problem? Would it be possible to fix it by working in high-nitrogen fertilizer? And, if so, how much? Thanks for your help.

Clackamas County Oregon mulch horticulture soil and fertility issues

2 Responses

Small chips, like sawdust, can tie up the nutrients in that soil, but mixing in high-nitrogen fertilizer can be too much of a good thing. Are you able to plant a few feet away from the sawdust mixture and add nitrogen fertilizer if the new shrubs struggle? Here is a prior question/answer about avoiding planting in the exact same spot where a stump has been removed: https://web.extension.illinois.edu/askextension/thisQuestion.cfm?ThreadID=15340&catID=199&AskSiteID=87
The soil also settles and changes in the stump area for a few years, as the deeper roots decay; another reason to avoid immediately filling that hole with plants.

Dear Jacki D.: Thank you so much for your response! It makes perfect sense, and, fortunately, I will be able to follow your advice given my set up.
This is my first time using this "ask" feature, and clearly it is wonderful!
Thank you, thank you!
Jean