How to use wooden chips in garden soil

The downed trees are often chopped off and send to landfills. They can be used in a better way in the form of firewood; in the landscapes for decoration, for mulching around trees and flowerbeds or can be used for a walkway. The cedar and pine bark wood chips can be placed around`the trees, flowers and shrubs to protect the fragile root systems and these chips can also reduce the weeds that occur frequently in the garden and spoil it. Microorganisms like fungi are found to feed on wood mulches. The whole process increases the amount of organic matter in the garden soil, which makes it more productive.

Wooden chips

Complexity level: Moderately challenging

Time required: 24 hours

Resources required:

Wooden chips, cultivator or steel rake and landscape fabric


Select chips of desired wood

You should first decide, which wood chip you want to use in your garden. You can do this by investigating the different types of wood chips that are available to you. The nuggets, mini nuggets and the finer wood mulches are of varying sizes. Some wood chips can have a different aroma and a different appearance as well. These wood chips come from exotic materials like cedar and cocoa and can be useful in preventing the insect attack on your garden. Wooden chips are found to blend nicely in the native gardens. You can get the desired wooden chips from the sawmills or from the timber merchants at cheap costs.

Prepare the garden soil

For using the wood chips properly you can first prepare your garden soil. You can use a steel rake or a cultivator for preparing the underneath garden soil. The quality of garden soil can be improved by removing all the broken branches, dirt weeds, rocks and stones from it as well. You can use the steel rake or your hands and even out the soil so that the wood chips can be applied on it in an smooth and even manner.

Wood chips are best in protecting bare soil in the newer gardens. The pine bark that has composted, the fine shavings of wood and the sawdust are highly nutritious for the soil and break down easily and benefit the soil. You can also give designer effects to your garden soil by using the ochre dyed redwood chips.

Lay the wooden chips on the garden soil

The ground can be completely covered by placing the wood chips over the garden soil in an even manner. The amount of wood chips should be enough to compensate itself if wind or rain occurs and some amount of wood chips get displaced. But you should not overfill the land with wood chips as higher number of wood chips will cause a reduction in the amount of oxygen that reaches the soil. Considering all the factors, a layer of wood chips that is around 3 to 4 inch would be sufficient.

Maintain the freshness of wooden chips

Harsh winter conditions and intense sunlight during summers can result in the discoloring and fading of the wood chips. You can make the wood chips look fresh by adding new layers of chips each morning and by churning the chips on a regular basis. You can also prevent wastage by not replacing the wood chips each year.

Maintain the right amount of chips and use nitrogen based fertilizer

If the amount of wood chips is higher than normal then less oxygen will reach the roots of the small trees, plants and shrubs of the garden. This will create cankers in the trunks of these garden trees. If you notice any cankers then you should reduce the amount of wood chips in your garden. You can remove the topmost layer and apply a fertilizer that has a good amount of nitrogen in it.

Use the landscape fabric

You can get extra protection form weeds if you use employ the landscape fabric beneath the wooden chips. You can roll over the plastic on the topmost layer of the soil and then cut the plastic of the fabric over suitable places so that it has space for the plants. The plastic fabric can be then covered with wooden chips.

Things to watch out for

The wooden chips should not be directly mixed with soil as it can create a binding between soil’s nitrogen and chips and render the soil useless. A nitrogen fertilizer should be used for keeping the plants and soil healthy.The decomposition of wooden chips can require time for decomposition and therefore you should be patient and should not change the chips frequently.

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