I'm expecting tons of wood chips to be dropped off in part of my yard every day this year, and am wondering what I need to do so the arborist can easily drop them off as close to where I want them as possible while staying happy (not sinking into swampy soil, or tractor eating ground)?

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    This question doesn't seem to be related to Sustainable Living.
    – THelper
    Commented Apr 7, 2019 at 6:21
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    it is related to driving on a type of minimum maintenance road
    – a coder
    Commented Apr 7, 2019 at 23:37
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    Woodchips are very valuable to homesteaders (and folks with large gardens/yards), and homesteading is definitely all about sustainability. Most environmentally conscious people also subscribe to "treading lightly upon the earth" — which is literally what this question is about. I think the question is fine. I don't think it's wise or valuable to narrow the focus of SLSE to "solutions for city slickers".
    – Tim
    Commented Apr 8, 2019 at 0:29
  • @acoder Can you expand your question to include a little bit of information about existing access? How many (viable) ways are there for the truck to access your property? What fraction of the access is gravel/compacted sand/grass-over-clay? How far into your property will they need to drive?
    – Tim
    Commented Apr 8, 2019 at 0:33
  • Also, do you actually mean tons of woodchips every day for a whole year? That would be an absolutely insane amount of material to cope with. A vertitable mountain of chips larger than most houses.
    – Tim
    Commented Apr 8, 2019 at 0:39

1 Answer 1


The usual solution to avoid sinking into soft ground is to release some air from your tyres so that they bulge more. That increases the contact area with the earth, distributes the weight of the vehicle over a larger area, and reduces the likelihood and depth of sinking.

It is highly unlikely, however, that a commercial service will do this for you. They want a place where they can quickly pop in, drop off, and leave. Ideally, the driver wouldn't even have to exit the cab of the vehicle.

If that's the case then you have no option but to control/modify the route that the trucks will take once they come through your gate.

If you have an existing, all-weather driveway, then use that. If you don't have an all-weather driveway, or the condition of your driveway is 'marginal', then you want to divert the trucks off it as quickly as possible.

Dad was a logger. Brush piles, and huge volumes of sawdust and wood chips were a by-product of the logging/milling operations he was involved in. The local soil is sandy, but low spots exist that turn swampy/boggy in the wet season. Their solution for temporary roads through boggy areas was a 50cm deep elevated roadway made of woody debris.

Paths turn to muddy bogs due to the hydraulic pumping action that occurs as tyres drive over a particular spot. If you create a deep enough pile of chips, it will be free-draining, and hydraulic pumping won't occur at soil level.

So, my suggestion would be for you to divert incoming trucks from your driveway as quickly as possible and get them to dump their first load straight away. You should sculpt the pile into a type of gentle off-ramp. Subsequent loads should extend the ramp and increase its height. Repeat until the height of the ramp is "decent" (around here ~50cm supports logging trucks). From that point on just extend the length of the elevated woodchip road as needed and route it wherever you want.

About the only maintenance required is to occasionally rake-in the chips from the sides to the compacted ('rut') areas, and to occasionally top up (level) sections that compact more than others.

I've only just noticed your previous question about pigs and woodchips. Assuming that this is related to that, if/when the woodchip road is no longer required you can fence it off with an electric fence and let the pigs in to eat/dismantle the road. What little the pigs miss will quickly break down and the grass will return.

  • how thick would wood chips need to be as I've seen a logging TV show,and noticed that they use trees, but I need to do it with wood chips for composting reasons I have an unlimited supply of the good 3 ply cardboard, and can lay wood chips on top of it if necessary.
    – a coder
    Commented Apr 8, 2019 at 2:12
  • the pigs is a different question than this one
    – a coder
    Commented Apr 8, 2019 at 2:14
  • I'm permanently killing grass, so i can easily "maneuver" around my garden.
    – a coder
    Commented Apr 8, 2019 at 2:16
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    50cm?! In some wet forestry I've worked on, slash (woody debris, limbs from trees turned into logs) is dragged onto trails in piles 1-2m high, then driven on with heavy equipment and flattened to ~0.5-1m high. Pretty sketchy to walk on but works great to protect soil and water quality. As Tim said though YMMV in terms of depth needed. Overall this sounds like the right answer: drop a pathway of chips to support the truck as it backs in, and use cardboard to facilitate.
    – cr0
    Commented Apr 11, 2019 at 16:48
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    I've used cardboard to keep vehicles out of the mud but it doesn't work so well. It's more like a snowshoe distributing weight, not really the fluffy mat that woody debris serves as. I agree though that cardboard wouldn't hurt, you'll basically just be sheet mulching the garden dirt road.
    – cr0
    Commented Apr 11, 2019 at 16:50

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