5 Creative Uses for Wood Chips in Your Landscaping
Tree pruning, tree removal, stump grinding, or lot clearing are major events that can completely transform your property and landscaping and open new possibilities. It can also be surprising how much tree material comes down in the process. And how many wood chips are created. There are so many uses for wood chips, so this could be a bounty or a burden. When you work with Mr. Tree for your tree services on commercial, residential, or industrial properties, we’ll ensure you have everything you need to decide what to do with your wood chips.
If you’re wondering whether to have the wood chips removed or to put them to work on your property, you’ll want to consider few things such as the amount of wood chips you have to work with, how much time you’ll have for projects, and how much space you can work with.
Another factor to consider is the source of the trees. Wood chips from some trees, such as black walnuts or trees with disease or infestation, pose a risk to other plants, so you’ll want to ask about the source of the trees to ensure the wood chips are coming from species that are healthy and compatible with your projects. If the wood chips are coming from trees on your property you shouldn’t have any issues with using them on your property unless you had them removed for a reason.
Below are five uses for wood chips that can help you put them to good use and create sustainable landscaping on any property.
Mulch is one of the easiest and fastest uses for wood chips. Wood chips look great around trees, shrubs, and flowering plants and can easily define your landscaping designs. When properly applied, wood-chip mulch will provide insulation to keep the soil warm in cool weather and cool in warm weather, help retain soil moisture levels, and create a natural weed control for your landscaping. The wood chips will decompose over time and return nutrients to the soil, acting as compost in place.
Apply mulch in a healthy two- to three-inch layer around the tree or shrub in a donut shape that leaves a few inches around the base of the trees or shrubs untouched. Avoiding a mounded “mulch volcano” at the base of the plant will keep pests and rodents away as well as avoid suffocating the plant. When mulch is mounded too high or too thick, it can impede the natural flow of moisture and nutrients.
A healthy compost needs a balance of green and brown material, oxygen, and moisture. Wood chips are an excellent brown material with a high carbon-to-nitrogen ratio. This is a great option if you have a lot of green material to balance the compost or can add a nitrogen-rich amendment, such as feather meal or bone meal. The heat generated by an active compost will help decompose the wood chips faster.
Generally, a larger pile will retain the heat better than a smaller one, but if you have limited space, try to have a taller and more compact compost, rather than wider. Turn the pile regularly and monitor the moisture level to ensure it is damp but not wet to keep the decomposition moving along. If you have more space to work with, you can set up a compost pile of only wood chips by building a large, tall pile and covering it with a layer of leaves or finished compost and a tarp. This low maintenance process will compost the wood chips over the course of a year or more.
3. Playset Padding
A backyard playset is a great addition for a family with growing children, but the ground underneath the playset can quickly get worn down from the activity or turn to mud when it rains. Wood chips are wonderful low-maintenance padding for a playset that will soften landings and reduce soil compaction. You can create a polished effect by building a low-key border to contain the wood chips. Design your border high enough to hold at least 6 to 12 inches of wood chips, depending on the height of the playset.
The wood chips will compact with use, so monitoring the depth over time will ensure you have a safe and comfortable padding for your little ones to keep playing. Occasionally raking the wood chips can also help the padding stay evenly distributed and make replenishing the wood chips easier.
4. Weed and Pest Border
Wood chips also make a good weed and pest control border to limit invasive weed growth and redirect unwanted pests from your property. A strong border can stifle weed seed and reduce the opportunity for weed seedlings to flourish.
Unlike landscaping designs where a two- to three-inch layer of wood chips is the right depth, a weed control border should use a larger amount of wood chips to give it the volume needed to create a defensive barrier and keep unwanted plants from encroaching on your property. A broad layer of wood chips can also serve as a deterrent to pests, such as ticks, which will gladly clamber around from animal to weed to you but tend to avoid rough patches of highly textured surfaces like wood chips and gravel. You can complete your barrier by planting pest-deterrent plants as well.
5. Walkways and Pathways
Creating beautiful, peaceful walkways that invite people into a new space and guide them to a destination is made easy and sustainable with wood chips. Depending on your taste or the level of formality the space requires, you could leave the walkway edges natural for a casual effect or create a border to contain the wood chips and offer greater definition for visitors and guests.
Whether it’s your backyard garden or a large nature trail, walkways built with wood chips will also reduce the effects of rain and snow so you can prevent slick mud runs during your walk. A thick layer of wood chips will help the water drain and keep your pathway clear. Add them around raised garden beds to keep your plots tidy and easy to access. You will need to occasionally replenish your wood chip walkways.