Popular in all sorts of garden designs, bark and wood chippings have many purposes. In pots, borders and pathways there are plenty of ways to use bark in the garden.

They can…

• Suppress weeds
• Can be purchased at any garden retailer
• Look attractive
• Make beds and borders easier to maintain
• Can be used in pots, tubs and even hanging baskets
• 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 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 to cover the desired area.


A layer of chippings will also protect plant roots from frost damage in winter or scorching sun in summer.



Also, 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.

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. Make sure the chippings are not fresh or they will draw out all the nitrogen in the soil.


They will 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. Giving 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. 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.


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.

For more garden planting ideas, check out my blog:

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