Wood chips are used as both a decorative touch and a mulching compound in many outdoor gardens. These wood chips, which are often made from pine bark and cedar, can be placed around shrubs, flowers and trees in order to reduce weeds and protect fragile root systems.
Investigate the different types of wood chips you can use in your garden. Some wood chips vary in size, such as nuggets, mini-nuggets and finer levels of wood mulch. Others use more exotic materials, such as cocoa and cedar, to provide a different appearance and aroma, and they may actually prevent insects from infesting your garden.
Use wood chips in a garden by first preparing the soil underneath with a cultivator or steel rake. Remove all weeds from the dirt, as well as any large rocks or branches that may restrict plant growth. Smooth and even out the soil with either your hand or the steel rake, so that the wood chips can be applied evenly over the top.
Place the wood chips evenly over the soil until the ground is completely covered. While too many wood chips can limit the amount of oxygen that reaches the roots of your plants, you still want to compensate for the amount of wood chips that will shift due to wind and rain. A layer of wood chips around 3 to 4 inches deep should suffice.
Keep the appearance of your wood chips fresh by churning them up every spring and adding an additional layer of fresh chips. Both sunlight and harsh winters can cause the wood chips to fade and discolor over time. But svoid completely replacing the wood chips every year, as doing so can be wasteful.
Reduce the amount of wood chips you use in your garden if you begin to notice cankers developing around the trunks of small trees and shrubbery. This may indicate that the wood chips are interfering with the amount of oxygen that is reaching the roots of the plant. Simply peel off the top layer, and apply a fertilizer that is heavier in nitrogen.
Use landscape fabric underneath your wood chips for additional protection against weeds. Simply roll out the fabric on top of the prepared soil, puncture the plastic to accommodate planting and cover the plastic with wood chips.