If you have a stump left after a tree has been felled, you probably won't want it left sitting on the ground. An old tree stump can be a hazard, and will also be prone to rot and other problems that can spread to nearby plants and healthy trees.

Stump grinding is an effective and efficient way to get rid of a tree stump, leaving a clear patch of ground in its place. But grinding a tree stump means you'll be left with a lot of waste wood chips. While there's nothing wrong with just leaving these to naturally decay where they land, you could be putting them to good use instead. Here are some ideas if you're not sure what to do with all that waste wood.

Use it as mulch

Applying some mulch around your plants brings a number of benefits. It helps keep the ground moist by absorbing water, it limits weed growth, and as it slowly decomposes, it releases nutrients and fertilises the soil, too. Mulch can also look attractive, and it stops any edible plants from touching the bare earth.

This is the most simple way to use up your waste wood chips: just sprinkle a layer around any plants where it would be useful, and leave it there.

Help wildlife

Even small pieces of wood can create habitats for small animals. Even as it begins to rot, there are plenty of bugs that find it an attractive place to live.

Pile up your wood chips in an out-of-the-way part of your garden, and wait for various insects to move in. When you attract insects into your garden, you also help attract the birds that eat them, so it's a simple way to increase the diversity of animals in your own backyard.

Burn it as fuel

Some of the larger pieces of wood make great tinder or kindling and can be used to get indoor and outdoor fires burning efficiently.

Collect any pieces that are too small for this purpose, soak them in water, and press them into a container using a heavy object like a brick. Drain off as much of the water as possible, then leave the container out to dry in the sun. Once it's all dried out, you can use it as a solid fuel brick.

Create a natural path

If you like your garden a bit more on the natural side of things, wood chips make a great covering for a bare earth path. Just cover the path with wood, press it into place by walking over it, and you have your very own nature trail.