Can Wood Chips Be Used As Mulch

Can Wood Chips BE USed As Mulch? +[Are They Worth It?]

Are you wondering if wood chips can be used as mulch? You are in the right place.

Yes, wood chips can be used as mulch. It’s one of the best organic mulch available. They help retain water, suppress weeds, and provide nutrients to your plants.  Additionally, you can use them to create walkways, stop soil erosion and enrich your compost. They’re better than regular mulch. 

But this is not all you need to know. There are other factors concerning the use of wood chips, like whether their use is safe for the environment and our gardens. Also, I’ll address how long it takes the wood chips to decompose.

So, it’ll help if you read this article to the end.

Also Check – Wood Chips In Potting Soil? – Good Or Bad?

Can Wood Chips Be Used As Mulch? 

Yes, wood chips can be used as mulch. It’s one of the organic mulches. They provide the soil with shade and block water from evaporating, helping retain moisture. 

Wood chips also control soil temperatures and weeds. Additionally, once wood chips decompose, they release additional nutrients, which benefits the plants. They also help improve the soil texture.  

However, fresh wood chips consume nitrogen from the soil, thus competing with the plants. So, they should sit for one year before putting them in the garden.

Nonetheless, you can use the new wood chips to mulch plants with established root systems so that they can be in a position to resist competition for nitrogen. It explains why they make the best mulches for trees, shrubs, and various perennial crops.

Are Wood Chips A Good Mulch?

Wood chips are among the best mulches on the globe. You can opt to use them since they have better water retention capacities. Hence, there’s less need for constant watering of your plants, and the soil’s moisture level is kept constant. Additionally, they help maintain soil temperatures, control weeds and stop soil erosion.

Woods chips have a slow breaking down process that contributes to improving the soil quality of your garden. During decomposition, the wood chips release nutrients into the ground. Also, the process helps to improve the soil texture during microbial activity.  

It’s, however, significant for you to understand that some plants might perform better than others when using wood chips as mulch. Trees and shrubs thrive well when using wood chips as mulches. However, they might not be the best mulch option for vegetables and other annual crops.

What Can I Do With Chipper Wood Chips? 

There are several uses of chipper wood chips in your garden, such as:

  • Wood Chip Mulch

You can use chipper wood chips as mulch around plants in your garden. Wood chips eventually decompose and help to improve the soil texture. The mulch also helps regulate soil temperature and suppress weed. Additionally, they shade the soil, thus preventing water evaporation and helping to maintain water levels. 

  • Wood Chip Walkways

One use of the chipper wood chips is to make walkways between raised planter beds. A depth of 6 inches of wood chips compress it into a firm layer but still retain sufficient spring, making it comfortable to stand on for long periods.

The chips help create a barrier between your shoes and the ground when working in your garden.  They’ll keep your boots mud-free after it rains or you’ve watered the plants. Moreover, it helps retard weeds’ growth.

The walkways create a natural-looking, weed-free path to connect different areas of your garden. It’s easier to form curves and level surfaces using wood chips.

Nonetheless, be careful when walking on these paths when wearing open-weave shoes because of the splinters from fresh chips.

Also, it would be best if you topped up the walkway with fresh chips yearly as they decompose. 

  • Add Wood Chips To Your Compost

Wood chips add a lot of carbon to your compost pile. Remember wood takes a long time to decompose? Well, make your chips fine to hasten the process. Also, ensure you add sufficient nitrogen-rich scraps not to throw the composting process out of balance.

  • Soil Erosion Solution

Wood chips offer a soil erosion solution by forming a barrier where your garden is eroding from wind and heavy rains. You can till wood chips into the soil to build up low areas of the garden. The chips then soak up the water and hold in place the ground.

Can I Use Fresh Wood Chips As Mulch? 

It’s not advisable to use fresh wood chips as mulch. The main reason is that, unlike the decomposed wood chips, the fresh ones consume a good amount of nitrogen from the soil. Nitrogen gas is very crucial for the growth of many plants.

It’s advisable to let wood chips sit in the garden for one year to facilitate the process of decomposition.  The main reason is to ensure that the plants have better chances of thriving as it helps to reduce nitrogen consumption.

Therefore, let it decompose over time to ensure it won’t compete with the plants for nitrogen.

Some of the signs you can identify when the wood chips are consuming the nitrogen in the soil include yellowing and dropping the leaves. It means that you have to take action before the condition of the plants worsens.  

So, if you’ve applied the fresh wood chips, it’s essential to remove them before they destroy the plants.

Hence, it’s essential not to use these chips until they are at least one year old. Waiting provides you with the best mulch material for your plants.

What Is The Availability Of Wood Chips For Mulching?

Wood chips are readily available in large amounts in the local recycling centers. It’s possible to get them in bulk for free or at a very cheap price in these locations. 

Which Is Better: Mulch Or Wood Chips? 

Wood chips are bulky and oversized compared to the mulch. Hence, wood chips provide a more neat cover than mulch. It also makes it possible for them to last longer in the garden. 

Moreover, wood chips have better water retention capability than mulch and help moderate the soil temperature. Wood chips are more economical than mulch as they have a very slow breaking down process. It, therefore, means wood chips can last longer in your garden than most of the mulching options. So, you won’t have to keep incurring the cost of replenishing them. 

Also, wood chips are readily available. You can obtain them at no cost from most local recycling centers or even make them yourself. If you need to source quickly for a surface cover at a low cost, wood chips are a great option, unlike other organic mulches that take time to make.

Wood chips compromise materials of different sizes, and hence they’re more compaction resistant as they allow water to infiltrate than mulch.  Moreover, the different materials, including bark, leaves, and wood in the chippings, offer diverse soil microorganism selections. As a result, the wood chips are more resistant to ecological stresses and provide a healthy environment for your plants. 

However, mulch has an improved nutritional value than wood chips. Additionally, it provides better insulation for the plants’ roots.

How Long Does It Take Wood Mulch To Decompose? 

The wood chips start decomposing in a concise duration of three months. After using them as mulch, they have a slow process of breaking down, explaining why they can cover your garden for a long time.

Once they decompose, they turn into compost which is still significant to the plants and the soil. It would be best to understand that wood chips have a higher decomposition rate in summer. The main reason is that the pile’s center accumulates heat that triggers the decomposition process. You can slow down the decomposition process by turning the pile.


Are Wood Chips Suitable For The Environment? 

Wood chips are suitable for the environment. Their source is natural resources. Also, wood chips benefit the environment because the waste wood helps in farming instead of accumulating in landfills.

What Wood Chips Are Bad For The Garden? 

There are some trees whose wood chips might introduce allelochemicals into the soil. These chemicals inhibit seed germination and also kill certain plant species. 

Trees whose wood chips you should avoid include black walnut, eucalyptus, and the tree of heaven. 


What’s the closing line, therefore? Wood chips can be used as mulch. They have high water retention, thus facilitating the growth of plants in your garden and the cooling of the soil. Wood chips also have a slow breaking down process, thus making them economical in the sense that you don’t have to keep replenishing them. 

You’re warned against using fresh wood chips to mulch your garden because it consumes nitrogen crucial for plant growth. It’s important to let the wood chips sit for one year in the garden before using them. 

Moreover, it’s essential to be cautious about the type of trees you acquire the wood chips from.

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