Little chips of wood and bark are great in any garden. They:
- Suppress weeds
- Can be bought at any garden retailer
- Look attractive
- Make beds and borders easier to maintain
- Can be used in pots, tubs and even hanging basket
- Provide a good mulch and help retain water for plants and shrubs
- Compost slowly, so they only need topping up occasionally
In the border
Bark and wood chippings to provide a natural barrier against weeds. You need to lay it about 5cm deep, so check your measurements to make sure you buy enough material.
A layer of chippings will also protect plant roots from frost damage in winter or scorching sun in summer. And it will act as a mulch to retain moisture in the soil, keeping a healthy environment for your precious plants. Make sure the material is suitable for mulching and not fresh chippings, which will suck nitrogen from the soil around the plants.
Bark and wood chips also look great when you glimpse the tidy spaces between shrubs and plants in a border.
In the pots
The chips come in different sizes and smaller chippings are great in pots and tubs. They keep weeds down and moisture levels up – meaning less watering during summer. Again, make sure the chippings are not fresh or they will draw out all the nitrogen in the soil.
Bark and wood chips do compost down, but it’s a slow process and you shouldn’t need to top up often. This process also enriches and aerates the soil. Bark chips also stimulate plant growth as mulched plants and trees grow faster than un-mulched!
On the path
Chippings are also an excellent alternative to more expensive hard pathway materials like paving or gravel. They give a different texture and look to the garden, and are durable and low maintenance.
If you use bark chippings for pathways, lay a membrane between the soil and the chippings. You can use sheets of polythene or plastic. Punch holes through at roughly 30cm intervals for drainage. There are various grades of weed suppressant fabrics which are ideal for this purpose.
You will need to lay a path of bark chippings about 10cm deep, so when you prepare the ground make sure the base is deep enough. There are plenty of different wood chip shades, so you should be able to find one to enhance your garden beautifully.
What to buy
You can buy bark and wood chippings at all good garden centres. Reputable retailers will ensure the wood comes from a renewable source – this should be clearly labelled on the packaging. Look for FSC Certified (Forest Stewardship Council) which guarantees that the wood and bark is responsibly sourced.