Will Sawdust Kill Grass? Know Before You Put Them In Your Garden.

Nowadays, woodworking is a very popular hobby. As much as you love creating new objects, the result can become a bit messy. Besides a feeling of joy after woodworking, another by-product is sawdust, A LOT OF SAWDUST!

It might feel bad to let so much sawdust go to waste, and you must be wondering whether sawdust kills grass and how it could be used for your garden.

Consider your problem solved! Because in the next sections, we are going to provide a detailed explanation on the uses of sawdust.

So, let’s get started with it.

Will Sawdust Kill Grass?

If you put raw sawdust directly in your garden, then it will definitely ruin the fertility of the soil and kill the grass. However, if you apply a layer of sawdust and high nitrogen materials (in a 4:1 ratio), then the sawdust will decompose at a faster rate, hence increasing the fertility of the soil. The organic materials and nutrients of the soil will increase and nourish the growth of plants.

What Is Sawdust Uses For? 

If you’ve recently cut down several trees in your garden, you’ll notice that the ground around that area will be covered with dust. This is ‘sawdust.’ The main problem of sawdust is that it absorbs enormous amounts of nitrogen from plants. Sawdust and other dry wood pieces are highly carbon-based.

This carbon-based plant absorbs the natural nitrogen from the soil, eventually making it infertile.

Now, you must be wondering what is sawdust good for then?

Besides all of the negative attributes of sawdust, it could become advantageous to us if it is used properly.

We can’t just dump sawdust in our garden and expect plants to grow. It can be used to change the texture of the soil as natural compost or to inhibit the growth of weeds. You will come to know some amazing and smart uses of sawdust in the article by Cheryl Magyar.

What Is Sawdust Composed And Why Is It Harmful?

Sawdust is a by-product of the wood and timber industry. The main chemical components of sawdust are hydrogen (5.2%), oxygen (33.8%), and nitrogen (0.9%). As sawdust is highly carbon-based, the carbon will absorb all of the plant-feeding nitrogen in the soil. This imbalance of nitrogen inhibits the natural growth of plants.

Besides gardening, sawdust is also known as a human carcinogen. When the particles are inhaled, the toxins in the dust produce severe allergic respiratory symptoms, mucosal, and non-allergic respiratory symptoms. 

Will Grass Grow Through Wood Chips?

You must be wondering if grasses will grow through wood chips? Yes, grass will grow through wood chips, and it can be used as mulch as well. There’s a common misconception that wood chips absorb nitrogen from the soil just as sawdust. But this imbalance is a temporary problem when wood chips are first incorporated into the soil.

But it does not end up creating a major problem as the wood chips are used as surface mulch. Wood chips are the perfect choice for shrub beds, natural areas, and around trees. The wood chips from tree services contain bark, sapwood, hardwood, and leaves.

As they break down over the years, they provide a small amount of nutrients to the plants. Their eventual breaking down also increases the organic matter of the soil. This increased organic matter plays a great role in the healthy growth of plants. 

Can Wood Chips Be Used As Mulch?

Experienced gardeners know that a generous amount of mulch is extremely beneficial for their gardens. Mulch refers to a layer of organic material on the soil surface. Mulch, even in layers, is a permeable material that leaves small spaces for grass or seedlings to grow through it.

The benefits of mulching include reduced weeding, cooler soil in the summer, water preservation, change in the texture of the soil, and slow addition of organic matter as the organic mulch breaks down eventually. All of this leads to the enhanced growth of plants.

In order to get the maximum benefit from wood chips, they can be applied at a depth of 4 to 6 inches. They break down comparatively quickly and will settle in about a few weeks. A gentle reminder, that is, don’t pile wood chips against tree trunks.

This can lead to issues with insects and fungal diseases. This is commonly known as a mulch volcano, and it is absolutely reprimanded. Spread the wood chips like a donut so that they are not in direct contact with the tree trunk. 

How To Use Sawdust In Your Garden?

If you’re left with a huge amount of sawdust after sawing trees, don’t just pile them in a corner. That would be harmful to your plants as sawdust would absorb the plant-feeding nitrogen from the soil and ruin the chemical balance. Rather sawdust can easily be used in your garden as compost or for mulching.


Before you make compost, you should check a cross-section of the wood to verify if it is chemically treated or not. You will notice a green-colored ring around the first half-inch or so. And once you find it, the sawdust will be suitable for composting. The colored ring is likely to contain chemicals like copper, arsenic, and chromium.

Secondly, after you’ve checked your sawdust, combine four parts of dry brown material (i.e., sawdust) with one part of greens (kitchen waste products, or grass clippings). You need to be certain that the carbon to nitrogen ratio is maintained, this is extremely important while composting.

If the ratio is not maintained, then you won’t be able to get optimum benefits from your compost. Before laying the sawdust down, mix 1 pound (453.5 gr.) of actual nitrogen with every 50 pounds (22.5 kg) of dry sawdust.

Besides, the kitchen by-products are not highly concentrated in nitrogen, so it would take years to break down the sawdust. We would highly recommend mixing more nitrogen-rich materials and turning the pile on a regular basis. Coffee medium is a rich source of nitrogen. You can easily get coffee grounds from your nearest go-to cafe if you ask for it!

Besides coffee grounds, blood meal, crab or shrimp shells, bat and seabird guanos are also high in nitrogen. If you have a bulk amount of sawdust, then you should definitely experiment with nitrogen-rich materials instead of waste products, which are low in nitrogen.

Sawdust For Mulch:

Sawdust is great as mulch for acid-loving plants such as Holly, Gardenias, begonias, blueberries Azaleas, etc. However, while using sawdust, keep in mind that the acidic-basic balance of soil MUST be maintained. As sawdust absorbs the nitrogen from the soil, additional nitrogenous chemicals need to be regularly added. Using a mixture of straw and sawdust is suggested as mulch. 

Is Sawdust Good For Compost?

The debate on whether sawdust is actually good for the soil is very controversial. To end all sorts of controversies, we have the answer to your question. Yes, sawdust is good for compost.

But it entirely depends upon what sorts of nitrogen-based green materials being are used and whether the ratio of carbon-nitrogen is maintained. After sawdust really decomposes, the soil WILL be richer, but for that first year or two, it’ll be a plant graveyard.

Uses Of Sawdust

There are many ways to effectively use sawdust for gardening purposes. It can either convert your garden into a plant graveyard or transform it into a lush, healthy garden.

various uses of sawdust

Find some of the best uses of sawdust below:

Changing The Soil Texture:

The texture of soil can be improved by adding a small amount of sawdust to the soil. It can increase the organic matter of the soil. It works well in moist soil.

Eliminating Weed:

Sawdust from hardwoods works as a natural weed killer. And, if you can put small amounts of sawdust in between the cracks and crevices of the sidewalk or the stepping stones, it’ll prevent weed from growing.

Growing Mushroom:

Sawdust is an excellent growing medium for mushrooms. Mushrooms lack chlorophyll and so they depend on organic nutrients for their food. A combination of sawdust and woodchips would be perfect for this.

Paving A Path:

Sawdust is the perfect material for paving a natural, soft, and fresh-looking path in your garden! First, apply a thick layer of sawdust and press it down firmly into place. Add layers of sawdust every few weeks.

Root Crops Preservation:

Root vegetables like carrots, potatoes, beets can be placed in a single layer and kept over the winter covered with fresh sawdust.

Soak Up Spills:

You can also utilize sawdust to absorb occasional drips and leaks from your garden. Just toss a sizable amount of sawdust over the spillage and wait for a few moments for it to be absorbed. After that, take a broom and sweep it up cleanly.

Animal Bedding:

Sawdust may also be used to make animal bedding. Sawdust from uncontaminated wood is an excellent substitute for natural animal bedding. They are great for pigs, cows, chickens, even for your dogs and cats because they are less costly, biodegradable, and recyclable.


We hope that the controversy over whether sawdust will kill grass has been cleared out. Sawdust can be used to your advantage if you understand the dynamics of how sawdust works in soil. And, being an avid gardener, we hope you can work it out to increase your gardens’ productivity.

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Tushar Mirror

Toolsmirror is a group of co-fighters led by Engr. Tushar is dedicated to gathering information, analyzing & test various items, and releasing reviews on various woodwork and outdoor tools. Our mission is to provide our readers with the most up-to-date ideas and approaches, as well as reveal the genuine features that will assist them in selecting the best items for their professions and DIY projects.

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