Wood chips

Courtesy Metro Creative.

With the drought came a whole new trend in water-saving landscaping, including using rocks, native plants and turf grass to save money as well as water. 

Now, East County residents have a new option when it comes to fighting the results of the drought – free wood chips. 

Bryan Kappa, owner and founder of Chip Drop, has found a unique way to connect home gardeners and landscapers with businesses that clear trees and often give away their wood chips at no cost. Chip Drop gives homeowners and gardeners access to inexpensive mulch to landscape their yard and improve the health of their gardens, while giving arborists access to hundreds of nearby places to empty their dump trucks, saving them time, fuel expenses and dumping fees.

“Arborist’s wood chips make a great mulch for your yard or garden, and mulching around garden beds and along pathways will help keep down weeds and retain moisture in your soil,” said Kappa. “Arborists chips aren’t like store-bought mulch. You’ll receive between 4 to 15 yards of wood chips in a single delivery, which is about 8 feet wide and 15 feet long. That may seem like a lot, but wood chips break down quickly, and it’s recommended to spread them in a thick layer to work effectively. If you end up having more than you need, give some away to your neighbors!”

Kappa lives in Portland and has facilitated more than 10,000 drops in 25 cities across the U.S. and Canada. Prior to launching the business in 2014, Kappa worked in watershed and natural-area restoration, including two seasons of tree-planting work with a restoration crew. He knows how arborists operate and the need for their services, having worked for more than three years for tree companies, mostly hauling brush and doing pruning and tree-removal work.

“Most people are very excited to get free wood chips and didn’t know it was possible until they heard about Chip Drop,” said Kappa. “Gardeners find it to be a very useful and economical way to suppress weeds and keep their yards nicely landscaped. There aren’t any other companies offering this sort of mulch-matchmaking service in California.”

In the East Bay, Kappa has worked with A Plus Tree Inc., in Vallejo; Stone Tree, which services Concord and the surrounding areas; Mather’s Tree Service, in Martinez; and C&W Tree & Landscape Co, in Martinez.

“Our business model includes charging tree companies $20 for each drop,” said Kappa. “This is a fraction of the cost they would otherwise have to pay to empty their trucks.  Signup is always free for gardeners and homeowners, but we do offer an option for them to pay for the delivery and offset the cost to the tree company. In this way, the homeowner can perhaps get a quicker delivery, assuming the tree company may give preference to sites that are offering to pay. However, there is no guarantee.”

So far, public response to the growing business has been good.

“The chip-drop program is great and a win-win for both the tree-trimming company and the gardener,” said Crystal Hogg, a recipient in Nashville, Tennessee. “I am working on a backyard, green-space project and have used several scoops of these chips throughout the summer to build walkways and garden-box areas. It also works great for chickens, and I highly recommend it if you are filling in any backyard spaces.”

For more information, or to sign up for a drop, visit www.chipdrop.in.