News Treehugger Voices How I Use Pruned Branches in My Garden Here are a few ways you can make use of discarded woody materials in your garden. By Elizabeth Waddington Elizabeth Waddington Facebook LinkedIn Writer, Permaculture Designer, Sustainability Consultant University of St Andrews (MA) Elizabeth has worked since 2010 as a freelance writer and consultant covering gardening, permaculture, and sustainable living. She has also written a number of books and e-books on gardens and gardening. Learn about our editorial process Updated May 27, 2021 07:04PM EDT Fact checked by Haley Mast Fact checked by Haley Mast LinkedIn Harvard University Extension School Haley Mast is a freelance writer, fact-checker, and small organic farmer in the Columbia River Gorge. She enjoys gardening, reporting on environmental topics, and spending her time outside snowboarding or foraging. Topics of expertise and interest include agriculture, conservation, ecology, and climate science. Learn about our fact checking process wihteorchid / Getty Images Share Twitter Pinterest Email News Environment Business & Policy Science Animals Home & Design Current Events Treehugger Voices News Archive When you have a lot of trees and shrubs in your garden, you will soon find that a lot of woody matter accumulates. While some people prefer to undertake minimal pruning—and I am one of them—I do find some pruning is necessary for the health of the plants and for space reasons. But pruned branches certainly not have to go to waste. Rather than sending garden waste for municipal recycling, you should make use of woody materials—and all other green waste—in your garden. I make use of pruned branches in my garden in a range of different ways. So to help you work out how to make use of this natural resource, here are some ways I use them on my property: Hugelkultur Beds and Growing Areas Making a Hugelkultur no-dig raised bed. Sanghwan Kim / Getty Images One key way I have used pruned branches in my garden is in the formation of hugelkultur growing areas. Hugelkultur is a German term that means "mound culture." It involves creating mounded raised beds with decomposing woody material at their core. The woody material is a skeleton below a coating of other organic materials, which are built up in layers. These layers are then covered with topsoil/ compost/ loam into which plants can be placed. The woody material in Hugelkultur growing areas slowly breaks down and creates a rich, fertile, and moisture-retentive environment for your plants. The capacity of these types of beds to store water means that they are a particularly good choice in water-short areas. But they can also work well in somewhat wetter climates like my own. Wattle Fencing/Bed Edging A wattle fence made of old branches. Dmytro Hrushchenko / Getty Images Pruned branches can also be used to make rustic wattle fencing or low wattle fences which work very well as bed edging. By using the pruned branches of a range of different trees and shrubs to make your fences, you can achieve a wide range of interesting decorative effects. The pruned branches of some trees (willows and elder, for example) will also easily root, allowing you to use them to make new hedgerows or living fences (fedges) for your garden. Pruned Branch Trellises and Plant Supports Mint Images / Getty Images Sturdier branches pruned from the trees in my forest garden can also be useful in building trellises and other plant supports. Stronger branches can be used as uprights for a trellis structure, while smaller, more pliable branches can be woven at intervals between them to give climbing or vining plants a structure to climb. You can also use two long straight branches as uprights for a trellis, and string natural twine between them. I use smaller, twiggier branches to provide support for peas in my garden. The twigs sticking out from the sides give peas plenty to cling onto as they grow. Pruned Branch Row Cover Frame Another project I have undertaken using green, pliable pruned branches is making a tunnel-shaped row cover frame. I used four long bendy branches to make the arches, and straighter branches along the top and sides to hold them together. You can use this same idea, or simply make other tented structures from a few branches, to make a range of cloches or plant covers to extend your growing season and protect plants against the cold. Pruned Branch Basketry and Other Crafts Angela Sikiric / EyeEm / Getty IMages As well as using pruned branches for the garden uses mentioned above, I have also used pruned material in basketry, and in a range of other crafts. If you are a crafty person, you can easily make rustic baskets to collect homegrown produce or have some fun with other arty projects. I have also cut circles from larger pruned branches and decorated these using pyrography, for example, to use as rustic markers in the garden. You could also shave a flat section on sticks and burn on the names of plants, and use these as plant labels. Chipped Branches–For a Range of Uses Those branches that I am not using for other things, I chip using an electric garden shredder. I then use this wood chip to replenish the paths through my forest garden and in other parts of my garden each year. Of course, the wood chip also has a wide range of other uses in your garden. When you think about how you can keep garden "waste" around, you will soon find that what so many throw away or ignore can actually be very useful in your garden, and in your home.