Is using wood chips on a hill a terrible idea?

Old 03-25-19, 06:15 PM
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Is using wood chips on a hill a terrible idea?

Hiówe recently moved to a house in northern NJ, and our backyard is a steep slope down to a small river. We love the view but along the switchback path to the river are wedges of completely overgrown, tangled and prickly brush, which weíd love to make a bit more attractive and safer for our 2 kids. Weíre wondering about covering it now (before it grows up again in the spring) with a thick layer of wood chips which is infinitely less expensive and more environmentally sound seeming than most of the options landscapers have presented us with. Our worries are that we have read that it can harbor bugs and termites and lead to significant problems, and that it will all just slip right down the slope. Do you have any insights on this? Thanks so much for your help!!!!
Old 03-26-19, 01:43 AM
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we have read that it can harbor bugs and termites and lead to significant problems, and that it will all just slip right down the slope
Considering it's the outdoors I guess bugs are always present!

Slipping down the slope? Unless you have a shear cliff and all the present ground covering is falling off I think your ok!

To get a good layer of wood chips that is going to hold back the weeds you need at min 4", more like 6" depth, do some multiplication over an entire back yard and your talking a lot of yards of chips, how are you going to move them?

Every other year we refill our beds with 20+ yards of chips and without that compact tractor with bucket it would be a PITA to move with a wheelbarrow!
Old 03-26-19, 03:07 AM
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Cypress mulch is less susceptible to termites but unless there is direct contact with a wood structure I wouldn't be overly concerned about it. How steep is the slope? Personally I prefer plants that will grow into a thick ground cover as that generally means less maintenance.
Old 03-26-19, 04:40 AM
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Putting a think layer of mulch down won't do much to prevent the briars and other weeds. It will help some but you will still have to do regular maintenance to keep the area clear. The thicker the mulch the more weed protection you will get. But keep in mind that mulch is most often used in landscaping and beds where you want things to grow. And, as mulch decomposes it generally improves the soil.

Wood chips or mulch will look good at first. On a steep hill they will have a tendency to migrate downhill and if kids play on it it can move downhill pretty fast. So, don't rely on the mulch to stay where you put it.

Mulch and wood chips are a natural product and a food source for many insects. It's not bad but it is a part of nature. Insects and microbes will thank you for the all you can eat buffet. Luckily most of these insects don't bother humans. If this hill is near your home make sure your termite protection is up to date as you don't want to create a buffet that leads wood eating insects to your house.
Old 01-25-21, 11:58 PM
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old thread but my 2Cents, I haven't seen a termite in NJ in forever, don't worry about them from mulch until if you even see them eating you house.

I'd go with small shrubs or perennial plants etc rather than mulch/free wood chips, but if you want something that doesn't hinder walking/playing over there plant grass, if it's shady, try fine fescue chewings and creeping red fescue, it basically takes care of itself in shade once established with watering from a sprinkler the first year or two, barely needs any fertilizer. If it's sunny enough try zoysia plugs or seed, once established with water it barely needs water and won't thin out like regular tall fescue or blugrass in sunny areas, and also barely needs any fertilizer.

I'd go with a combo of plants and grass. wood Chips will turn to soil and need to re do every couple years depending on size, also if you call tree service for free woods chips often times they'll dump the whole truck even if you established with them you onl;y needed a smaller amount and may end up with way too much extra.

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