How to Lay Wood Chips in the Garden

Lead Image
  • 2-5 hours
  • Beginner
  • 20-150
What You'll Need
Gardening shoes
Wood chips
Gardening gloves

Wood chips are an excellent mulch for many different types of plants, including perennials, trees, and vegetables. Lots of areas have free wood chips available for anyone who can collect them which also makes them a very cheap form of mulch.

Wood chips are wonderful because they prevent weeds from growing and they also keep the soil nice and moist. As long as the wood chips are deep enough they will have the desired effect.

TIP: Our expert gardening advisor, Kathy Bosin adds, "If you're using wood chips to create a path between rows of your garden, you don't need to purchase expensive landscape cloth. Use thick cardboard recycled from your local grocery stores, and place it in layers on the ground, then cover with a few inches of wood chips. You'll keep weeds out and create a handsome path for your garden."

Step 1 - Acquire Wood Chips

Wood chips are normally available from garden centers and are pretty cheap. A garden center may also be able to deliver them to your home. You might also be able to get wood chips for free. Check local adds and the like. Wood chips are a byproduct of tree clearing and landscaping projects, and often people just want to get rid of them. Find somewhere close to where you live which has wood chips because they can be quite bulky.

Step 2 - Move the Wood Chips to the Garden

You need to use a wheelbarrow or garden cart to move the chips. Without a wheelbarrow, this job would be impossible. If you have a large bag of wood chips, then dump them out and form a pile. Shovel the chips from the bed of the delivery truck, or from the pile into the wheelbarrow. Make sure that it's not too heavy to handle. Wheel them down to your vegetable plot, roses, or shrubs.

Step 3 - Spread the Chips

Set one shovel full of wood chips on the garden at a time. This may seem time-consuming but it's actually much easier than you might think.

You need to leave a space of a few inches around each plant so that the wood chips don't affect the plants you want to keep. For the maximum effect, the wood chips should be laid to a depth of 3 or 4 inches. This will prevent most weeds from growing while also keeping the soil underneath nice and moist.

If you are laying wood chips around tiny and young plants you need to much more careful. It is easy to accidentally cover the young plants with a shovel full of chips.

Step 4 - Use Your Hands

Now you need to fill in the spaces around the plants. Be very careful when doing this. Instead of using a shovel, grab two handfuls and place them carefully around the plants. Move them around so they are level and do not cause your plant any harm.

Step 5 - Care for Your Plants

Wood chips are a natural product and will rot down in the soil naturally, however as they rot they will use up nitrogen in the soil. Fertilize your plants to ensure your plants aren't robbed of these necessary nutrients.