A garden area mulched with wood chips is aesthetically pleasing in the landscape and promotes healthy plant growth. They help keep the soil moist, limit weed growth, improve soil composition, and keep the soil cool in the summer and warm in the winter.
You will learn in this article how to lay wood chips in your garden. Plus, we will show you where to use them and how to prepare the ground, so keep on reading to find out more!
Table of Contents
How to best prepare the ground
Before you lay the chips, rake the soil flat. Then, once you spread the chips, remove any large weeds to prevent them from growing through. Remove any weeds with runners, such as couch grass, as they will spread and grow under them. Small weeds can be left, and the chips will ultimately suffocate and destroy them.
You can avoid compacting the soil by staying off your garden bed or raised bed while applying the chips. You can tip them from the side. If you really have to step on your gardening site, then step only on the “chipped” areas to help reduce the amount of soil that is compacted.
What you should place under your wood chips
Ideally, composted cow manure is a perfect choice here. As the chips are broken down by soil bacteria, a small amount of nitrogen will be taken up from the soil.
This nitrogen will then be replaced for your plants to use by adding composted cow manure. It will be released back into the soil after the bacteria have digested the small quantity of nitrogen taken up from the soil as the chips break down.
The organic matter from the chips will be mixed with the soil bacteria and worms over time, improving the soil and trapping carbon. You can also place weed matting under the chips up to 5-7 cm as they can practically keep all weeds at bay.
It is worth noting, though, that weed matting will degrade over a long period of time, and weeds will then find their way through, and so you will need to reapply a second one.
Where to place wood chips in your garden
These are a few examples of where you can place them:
- In the vicinity of citrus trees
- In the vicinity of annual flowers
- In open garden and flower beds that have perennial shrubs
- Under the shade of tall local trees
- Between garden beds on pathways/play areas
- In the space between raised vegetable beds
- Around some Mediterranean herbs such as rosemary
How to lay wood chips step-by-step
This is what you need to do:
Step 1: Get the right chips
They are commonly found in garden centres and are relatively inexpensive. You can even get them for free. Wood chips are a result of tree removal and landscaping projects, after which many people prefer to get rid of them as soon as possible.
Step 2: Move the chips to the garden
To transport the chips, you’ll need a wheelbarrow or a garden trolley. If you have a huge bag of chips, throw it out and pile it up. Place the chips in the wheelbarrow from the delivery truck’s bed or from the mound. Check to see if it’s too heavy to manage, as they can be wheeled down to your vegetable garden.
Step 3: Now spread the chips
Go with one shovel at a time. This may seem like it will take a lot of time, but it won’t as long as you stay patient. You should leave a few centimetres between each plant and the chips to ensure that the plants you want to keep are not harmed.
The chips should be put to a depth of 7-10 centimetres for the best results. Most weeds will then be prevented from developing, and the soil underneath will be kept nice and moist.
Remember that you should be much more cautious when laying chips near small and immature plants because it is easy to overlook young seedlings and cover them with a shovel full of chips by accident.
Step 4: Use your hands
Now you must fill up the gaps between the plants. Given that it is a delicate job, use your hands now instead of using a shovel. Take two handfuls of chips and carefully place them around the plants. Move them around to make sure they’re level and don’t injure your plants.
Step 5: Take good care of your plants
While wood chips are considered natural products, they will deplete nitrogen on the soil surface at some point, so it is a good idea to fertilise your plants to guarantee that they don’t go without these essential nutrients.
If you use mulch collected from a mix of trees, it will include bark chips as well as smaller fragments of tree stems and leaves. This mulch is typically formed from tree offcuts collected by arborists during tree cutting. The brown and green mix is ideal for covering garden beds and will knit together nicely.
Because bark mulch and mixed tree mulch are substantial and won’t blow away or slide down a hill, they’re ideal for windy locations or slopes. If you have some wind issues in your area, plant tiny bushes to help block it out. Keep the chips 8 to 10 cm thick. In damp, warm weather, they will break down more quickly and will need to be refilled more frequently.
Benefits of wood chips
Wood chips can help your garden in a variety of ways, including retaining soil moisture, increasing microbial and worm populations, and inhibiting weed germination:
1. They can be used as mulch
Recycling wood chips to make garden mulch is a common and effective way to use them. They can be easily prepared at home with some DIY equipment such as the Skarper C90 Pro, which is user-friendly and accessible. For good and effective mulching, you can use broadleaf and conifer trees as your source of wood mulch.
They decompose slowly and won’t need to be reapplied for a long time once you apply them to your flower beds. In addition, they provide a protective layer that helps to maintain healthy soil.
2. They repel pests
Pests are best repelled by pine, cedar, and cypress wood chips. They quickly minimise the number of fleas infesting your garden. You can easily remove ticks and gnats from your garden as well.
They provide good moisture levels, so you don’t have to water as much. If the soil is covered with bark chippings, this prevents evaporation. When you wet the bark chips with your garden hose, they will momentarily collect part of the water before releasing the majority of it back into the soil.
3. They increase soil microorganisms
They aid in the development of a healthy soil microbial population that works to digest and break down organic materials in order to release nutrients into the soil. Microbes will thrive in the damp environment provided by wood chippings and break down all organic matter.
4. They naturally attract worms
Worms will thrive in the soil layers beneath the chips. They will eat the soil bacteria that break down the bark chips, then burrow through the damp, thin layers of soil to allow oxygen to reach the plant roots and improve root growth.
Worms will decompose organic matter and make nutrients available for your plants to flourish. Thus, naturally attracting them is beneficial to your garden.
5. They eradicate weeds
Wood chips will help you keep weeds at bay in your garden, making it easy to keep track of them throughout the growing season. Even if weeds regrow, it will be a lot easier to pull them out, given that the chips will tighten the soil.
Instead of weeding, add organic mulch and wood chips to save time and eliminate chemicals. It’s a low-cost method to keep weeds at bay while also improving the overall appearance of your garden.
To sum up, wood chips are an excellent low-cost mulch that is great for your soil. They have many benefits and will provide your garden with good nutrients. Remember that they should be spread over a weed-free area or one that has been well-covered! Happy gardening!