Oftentimes, farmers are confused about which mulch is most suitable for their gardens. With so many options being available and most being locally available, for example, wood chip, most prefer the cheapest option – wood chip. But is wood chip good for garden?
Yes. With correct planting, the seeds will successively grow through the chips. Plus, wood chips add nutrients to the soil when they decompose; that’s about 3-4 years. Additionally, wood chips lower the soil’s Hp, making it acidic, which is great for some plants.
Plus, there’s more for you. So, read through this article and learn more about wood chips and how they can transform your garden into something that catches the eye.
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Is Wood Chip Good For Garden?
Yes, wood chip is good for garden because it has unique properties that are a must-have for any garden. Your plants will love the temperature moderation from the wood chips layers. Also, wood chips improve the soil structure by allowing aeration for the roots to take in nutrients and oxygen.
Note that inorganic chips can’t improve soil structure or aeration. However, the wood chip has more. It controls weeds, enhances soil fertility, and reduces soil erosion. Furthermore, wood chips are pretty affordable and locally available.
What’s more? Installing wood chips is a DIY project; it doesn’t need new skills. Wood chips will make your garden something to admire. The rich brownish color makes your garden look lovely.
For quick access, let’s sum up the advantages of wood chips.
- Add soil fertility
- Moderate soil temperature
- Control pests and weeds
- It gives your garden a natural rustic look.
Can Seeds Grow Through Wood Chips?
Yes, seeds can grow through wood chips. However, it depends on the seed type and the depth of the wood chips. Leguminous plant seeds will easily grow under wood chips, while most flower seeds struggle. Generally, applying shallow and loose wood chips to your seed nursery can facilitate germination. Plus, the mulch will keep the seeds hidden from the birds.
Remember that one mechanism of wood chips is to suppress weeds. The same can happen to your seeds if you don’t take care of them. Then, let’s consider how the chips can hinder seed growth. We’ll consider two points.
Wood Chips Block Sunlight
For a seed to germinate, sunlight is key, and when hindered, the plant becomes weak and unproductive. Excessive wood chips over the seeds can obscure light from reaching the soil. As a result, the seeds may fail to grow and navigate through the mulch.
The same concept applies to weeds. The wood chip blocks sunlight from reaching the seed underneath, preventing germination.
Wood Chips Can Stop Soft Seed Stems
Wood chips are pretty dense compared to germinating seed stems. Especially when wet, the chips will saddle the soft stem and make the growth process protracted.
For instance, you’ll observe heavy mulching on vegetable and flower seeds increases the period when the plants appear. Also, a considerable number of seeds will fail to germinate.
How Long Do Wood Chips Take To Decompose?
Wood chips take about 3-4 years to decompose. Consequently, you need not worry about mulch for the next four years. Once the mulch has decomposed, nitrogen is released into the soil, improving its soil fertility.
However, as the chips decompose, the soil may lose its nitrogen quantity. How? Bacteria absorb nitrogen from the soil to break down the wood chips. Alternatively, you can add nitrogen fertilizers to keep a steady nitrogen supply in the ground. Note that excess nitrogen can poison your plants.
How To Speed Up Wood Chip Decomposition?
To speed up wood chip decomposition;
- Add nitrogen to the soil
- Ensure the wood chips have enough moisture
- Keep the mulch warm
Add nitrogen to the soil: Nitrogen acts as a catalyst for decomposition. Additionally, nitrogen boosts the health of your vegetation. Nitrogenous fertilizers are a good source of nitrogen for the soil.
Ensure the wood chips have enough moisture. Moisture hastens the breaking down of the mulch nutrients into the soil. Plus, moisture helps the wood chips to dissolve and nitrogen fertilizer soak. Therefore, remember to sprinkle water on the chips during dry seasons.
Keep the mulch warm. Temperature also quickens the breaking down of the wood chips. Avoid turning the mulch during the cold season to contain the heat. However, during summer, turn and mix the chips once in three months.
Do Wood Chips Make Soil Acidic?
Yes, wood chips do lower the soil pH. Soil pH increases or rises depending on the number of free hydrogen ions in the soil. Wood chips release more hydrogen ions when they decompose, lowering the pH and making it acidic.
Some plants, like the evergreen trees, will flourish under acidic soils. However, it’s important to check your garden’s soil pH before planting. Plus, note the pH requirement of your plants to take the right sets.
As noted earlier, if your plants require neutral or higher soil pH, you can add lime. Lime contains calcium and magnesium carbonate, which combines with hydrogen ions to make the soil less acidic.
How To Use Wood Chips In My Garden?
You can use wood chips in your garden as mulch. The number one rule here’s NEVER cover your seeds with the mulch. Yes, I had said you could plant your seeds under the wood chips. However, it’s easier and safer to wait until the seeds have grown Before covering the ground.
Follow the steps below to apply wood chips in your garden rightly.
Step 1: Clear the weeds in the garden. For a quicker result, you could spray the garden with non-selective herbicides. However, if the garden has some plants you want to retain, use the old uprooting method.
Step 2: Spread the wood chips evenly over the area. The layer should be about 2-3 inches deep.
Step 3: Maintain a 6-inch space between the mulch and the base of your plants and other woody structures. Wood chips in direct contact with woody plants trap moisture against the stems and cause rotting.
In the case of seeds, plant them in trenches and make sure they’re in direct contact with the soil. Return the mulch once the seeds have germinated and grown up to 4 inches high.
Step 4: Sprinkle water over the spread wood chips. Water prevents the formation of a fungal mycelial mat that’s water-repelling.
Step 5: Keep a good account of your wood chips. Flip or fluff them up whenever you observe them compacting or fading or developing fungi at their surfaces. You may add new wood chips regularly to improve their appearance.
How Long Should Wood Chips Sit Before Putting On A Garden?
You should keep your new wood chips for 6 -12 months before applying them to the garden. When fresh, wood chips have high quantities of carbon but lack nitrogen.
Why? Fresh wood chips as they decompose, the microorganisms responsible for the decomposition process take in nitrogen from the soil. Therefore, depriving your plants of nitrogen.
If you have already put the fresh wood chips in your garden, you don’t need to worry. However, you’ll need to supplement your garden with nitrogenous fertilizers to supplement the nitrogen level in the soil.
Can I Mix Wood Chips With Soil?
Yes, you can mix wood chips with soil. However, be careful when mixing fresh wood chips with soil. Why? When it starts to decompose, fresh wood chips take in nitrogen, leaving your plants malnourished.
Therefore, old wood chips mulch is the best to complement the soil. It has these benefits.
- It increases organic material in the soil: Old mulch supplies the soil with beneficial fungi and bacteria during decomposition that produces compost. This compost has plenty of organic matter essential for plant growth and resistance to diseases.
- Increases aeration and drainage into the soil: The compost formed during the decomposition keeps the soil moisturized. It also allows aeration that favors the organisms such as worms and insects living in the soil. These organisms also create spaces in the soil that allow drainage.
- Nutrients supply: As the wood decomposes during the late stages, it releases more nutrients into the soil. The amount of nitrogen applied during decay reduces, creating more nutrients in your soil.
Do wood chips attract termites?
Yes, wood chips attract termites, especially when wet and mixed with soil. The cooling effect of the wood chips provides a conducive environment for termites to multiply. However, termites are not a threat. You could use recommended insecticides from your local farm shop to control them and other pests.
So, is wood chip good for garden? Definitely yes. Wood chips produce high-quality mulch that adds nutrients to your soil, suppresses weeds and pests, and improves soil structure.
Wood chips come at an almost free price since wood by-products are locally available in most places.
Knowing the importance of improving and maintaining your garden soil can’t be emphasized enough. For a gardener, it’s very important. But knowing how to improve your soil is not always easy. However, with wood chips, you’re sure to get remarkable benefits.