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On Saturday, I rented a wood chipper. We had amassed a huge pile of brush that included several small trees. Just look at this crap:

Our options were:

A) Ignore it.
B) Take it / have it taken to the county veggie dump.
C) Destroy it.

The idea of spending the bulk of a precious Saturday manually hauling brush to the curb only for it to sit there for at least a week until the veggie truck comes by (I love you, Smyrna) was about as appealing as something that is not at all appealing. At all. Also, the lilly-livered, Subaru-owning, free-Tibet hippie voice in my head said, “Hey, maaaan. You should grind up that brush and keep it in your yard, maaaan. Why would you want to have some pollution-belching monster truck drive your pile of waste all over the county when you can reuse it yourself, maaaan. Put your money where your mouths is, maaaaan.” There was also my own voice in my shrieking, “WoodchipperwoodchipperwoodchipperWOODCHIPPER!!!”

And so, it was decided.

My target was the raised planter box pictured above that hasn’t grown anything but weeds since the Great Cornening of 2004. The goal was to convert the giant festering mass of sticks and branches into a nice, neat pile of ground-up sticks and branches. After receiving a tutorial from the tool rental facility that was essentially a long string of warnings about how expensive the machine will be to fix when I break it, I hauled it home and backed it into position. Crane taught me how to back up a vehicle with a trailer attached way back when, and I got a good bit of practice when we were on tour, but I was a little nervous about navigating the cul de sac, my driveway, and then my yard all in reverse. To my surprise, it wasn’t the horrifically frustrating trial and error I was expecting.

Aside from one small snafu with the very first branch where I was sure I had done everything wrong and destroyed the machine, it was surprisingly anti-climatic. Branches and brush go in, wood chips come out (at like 400mph). All in all it took about 2 hours to grind almost every stick in the yard.

I’m not naive enough to think that driving 20 miles round trip to get the chipper and then running it wide open for two hours somehow produced a smaller carbon footprint than having the municipal yard refuse truck, which drives by the house every week anyway, pick up the pile and take it to the vegetative dump for mulching / composting. But energy consumption issues aside, I do like the idea of dealing with our own waste within the limits of our property and not having a third party make the pile “disappear” like so much weekly household garbage.


  1. You’re worried about backing a wood chipper up? Try backing a 53 foot trailer off of a busy street into a dock designed for 24 foot trucks in the 1950′s. I hope a gang of teamsters comes to your cul de sac and hangs you off your deck by your silk panties.

  2. You get a weekly municipal yard refuse truck?

    Unincorporated East Cobb sucks.

  3. Anytime I see a wood chipper, I am reminded of two things:
    The annual wood chipping fiesta at my parents’ house when my dad starts chopping down trees.
    An episode of Law & Order where a serial killer used a wood chipper to dispose of a body.

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