a practical use for the saw dust

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Forum topic by wooleywoodsmith posted 04-11-2009 02:58 PM 6927 views 1 time favorited 24 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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152 posts in 3867 days

04-11-2009 02:58 PM

Topic tags/keywords: resource question

hi there fellow wood workers I am trying to figure out what it is that I can do with all of my saw dust. Generally most of the saw dust and shavings that I produce is western red cedar. There is a fair amount of doug fir and some mahogany dust in there as well. I am wondering if anyone has used thier droppings as mulch in the garden and what has happened. How do your plants react? Thank you, wooley

-- wooley

24 replies so far

View woodsmith's profile


69 posts in 4299 days

#1 posted 04-11-2009 03:21 PM

I put sawdust in my garden but it is mostly pine. Just add lime and you might want it to age in a compost pile for a littlewhile.

-- woodsmith

View CharlieM1958's profile


16284 posts in 4725 days

#2 posted 04-11-2009 03:27 PM

I roll mine up in little papers and smoke it. (not) :-)

Seriously, though, before you put it in the garden, do a little checking…I’ve heard that some species (walnut, I think is one) are toxic to other plants.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

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Scott Bryan

27250 posts in 4328 days

#3 posted 04-11-2009 04:02 PM

I generally put mine on as a mulch around the landscaping. We have to replace some of the mulch every year anyway so this helps with the cost of maintaining the plants.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View Gary's profile


9402 posts in 3939 days

#4 posted 04-11-2009 04:26 PM

Most of it I put on the burn pile but, during the winter months when I use the fireplace, I mix sawdust with candle wax, wrap it in waxed paper and use it as starting logs.

-- Gary, DeKalb Texas only 4 miles from the mill

View David Freed's profile

David Freed

113 posts in 4174 days

#5 posted 04-11-2009 05:15 PM

Putting any species of uncomposted sawdust on a garden will (temporarily) deplete the soil of nitrogen. Adding extra nitrogen to the soil will solve any nitrogen depletion problems. Composting for 2+ months will also solve any nitrogen or toxicity problems.

Here is a list of some garden plants that DO NOT grow (or grow very poorly) with uncomposted walnut leaves, bark or sawdust in the soil. There may be others.

double-flowered cole vegetables

-- David, Southern Indiana

View eddy's profile


939 posts in 3871 days

#6 posted 04-11-2009 06:05 PM

i have been using my sawdust for mulch for my roses and they love it

-- self proclaimed copycat

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


18671 posts in 4182 days

#7 posted 04-11-2009 09:47 PM

i knew of a fellow who put raw wood shaving in his garden. He couldn’t grow anything for a couple of years.

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View David Freed's profile

David Freed

113 posts in 4174 days

#8 posted 04-12-2009 12:25 AM

“i knew of a fellow who put raw wood shaving in his garden. He couldn’t grow anything for a couple of years.”

Shavings would take quite a while to decompose and require a lot of nitrogen added in spring and fall to counteract the decomposing process.

Many people don’t realize how much nitrogen is used in the decomposing process. I had a 30’x30’ area that I wanted to make into another garden spot that was covered with hard, compacted subsoil from our house basement. Only a few weeds and some scraggly grass would grow in that area. I started by putting sawdust 10” deep over the entire area in the fall. I made several passes with my Troybilt tiller to mix it in with the soil. I added 100 lbs. of urea to the 900 sq ft area before the last pass with the tiller. Urea is 46% actual N, so I was fertilizing at a rate of 2200 lbs of actual N per acre. To many people that would seem like an absurd amount of fertilizer. The next spring, I fertilized again with 25 lbs of my own mix of 50% urea and 50% 6-24-24. That is equivilent to a rate of 312 lbs N, 144 lbs P, and 144Lbs K per acre. We planted flowers that spring. It was not a great “crop” that year, but they did grow. The following year did very well. In 1 1/2 years I was able to turn useless subsoil into rich, loose, productive topsoil.

-- David, Southern Indiana

View tenontim's profile


2131 posts in 4251 days

#9 posted 04-12-2009 12:34 AM

I doing something similar to David. I’ve got soil excavated from my house foundation and I’ve been tilling it together, with nitrogen mixed in to help in compost. Hopefully one day I’ll have a nice pile of garden soil.

View Brian024's profile


358 posts in 3906 days

#10 posted 04-12-2009 12:52 AM

I store it in container’s and give it to my mom to use in her garden.

View dalec's profile


612 posts in 4395 days

#11 posted 04-12-2009 01:39 AM

I don’t have a garden, but have saw dust. I contacted our yardwaste recyclers and was informed that they do not take saw dust. They recommend bagging the saw dust up and put it in the regular garbage. I would have thought that clean saw dust from real trees would be great yardwaste recyling. I guess I was wrong.


View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


18671 posts in 4182 days

#12 posted 04-12-2009 03:41 AM

Cessnapilotbarry, You can use short candles for fire starters without bothering to sawdust. Maybe your 10 groups of Scouts were lazy Scouts :-)

My Uncle used to use shavings for beding on the dairy farm. I suppose it was insignificant when spread on the fields with the manure.

David, thanks for the info. My friend told me he thought it was the turpentine in the wood. Sounds like it was the lack of N. I built up my garden spot with the help of a neighbor’s horse :-))

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View RAH's profile


414 posts in 4383 days

#13 posted 04-12-2009 04:23 AM

I use it to soak up any oil spills and after changing the oil in a vehicle I put in the drain pan let it sit and clean it out without a big mess after it has soaked up all the oil dry.

-- Ron Central, CA

View mski's profile


441 posts in 4487 days

#14 posted 04-12-2009 04:52 AM

As a gardener for 25+ years D Freed is right with “BLACK “Walnut.
And also I am organic so any ply (especially import) or MFD and the like be careful if using alot !!!!
As far as other things besides nitrogen, PH can be changed, BUT you should only be concerned if you are using massive amounts. unless it is BLACK Walnut, because that can be used as a herbicide.
But in reality, the stuff you buy at the HD or the like is ????????
Read the bag of Steer manure blend at HD contains sewage (ie processed human waste!!)
It is probably safe biolgically BUT what chemicals, drugs, antibiotics did the human ingest?
Hey don’t be to agressive and don’t worry, be happy.
I gotta got shower YUK !!!


View tooldad's profile


660 posts in 4221 days

#15 posted 04-12-2009 04:58 AM

One of our maintenance workers at school comes and gets a bag or two here and there for his horse stalls. I did some calling when we got a new DC at school, no recycling services for sawdust. too bad.

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