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Wood chips

(11 Posts)
Pinkhousealreadyinuse Sun 04-Sep-16 19:50:14

Need help as Google not helping!

We are looking to put wood chip/bark down. Our last gardener said to put aggregate type one down before the bark for drainage but I can't see where it advises this anywhere online, which just says consistently to put a weed membrane down then the bark. Hoping to start it this week, does anyone know?


Pinkhousealreadyinuse Sun 04-Sep-16 21:14:03


Qwebec Sun 04-Sep-16 23:31:38

I know nothing about the bark, but for the wood chips, do not put a membrane down. Cedar and other fern tree wood chips are not recommended because it does not break down properly and are slightly toxic for you plants in addition of not bringing extra nutrients to your soil.

What I did for my flower beds, paths and vegetable garden:

1. Lay dow 7-8 layers of newspaper. Wetting it will help them stay in place while you work with them. This is to kill the existing lawn/weeds. obviously you go around any plant you want to keep. In a year or so the paper will have decomposed totally. It used to be advised to avoid any colored ink, but since the 70's they change the composition of colored ink and it is harmless now,

2.If you plan on growing plants there you need to add a layer of compost 1 inch should suffice, ideally wood chip compost. In the first years the wood chip will decompose. Like any mulsh, the microorganisms that are active absorbe part of the nitrogen in it and starve you plants. Eventually your mulsh will become compost and you just need to top it up, but you plants nead a head start.

3.Add you wood chips (ideally ones that come from the tip of the trees as it is richer in resources). You need a good few inches for it to be effective. Be careful if you already have plants in place to leave a little breathing space around the stems or they will rot.
Top it up every year and you are done.

I hope that answered your questions. It makes gardening so much easier.

JustPoppingBy Mon 05-Sep-16 15:32:25

We put pine bark down (bags from local garden centre) on areas that we didn't have plants etc. We used a very thick membrane, lets water drain but inhibits weed growth.
I've had to pick the odd weed seed out that's sprouted but the bark lasted about 4years and we are just going to replace it. The membrane is still good but looks a bit mossy now we've swept up all the old bark so we're replacing that too.

shovetheholly Mon 05-Sep-16 17:18:43

It depends what you're doing with the woodchip.

If you are using it for paths, then membrane first followed by woodchip makes sense. This is what I've done at my allotment.

If you're using it as a longterm mulch on a bed, then I wouldn't put membrane down for two reasons. Firstly, it can make the soil underneath go really strange and slimy. Secondly, it is easy to end up with what I would describe as a corporate on-the-cheap job: plants that can't grow and expand well because of the membrane that look rather over-neat, plonked and isolated in a sea of barren chippings. It's often better to fill the empty space with plants that you want and to mulch with something rather richer more often, e.g. compost and leaf mould mix.

Pinkhousealreadyinuse Tue 06-Sep-16 12:22:02

Thanks! We're thinking of a play area but have read about it attracting cats so not sure now.

I've never heard of the newspaper idea, I might try it out of we go with the bark.

Thanks again!

DoreenLethal Tue 06-Sep-16 12:33:54

People just don't understand the concept of why we put woodchip down.

Wood chip is supposed to break down and create mycelium which in turn helps plants to absorb nutrients. Woodchip on the surface of soil always benefits the surrounding plants as it rots down. And rot down it does. If you put woodchip on your play area, you will get fungus growing over the next few years [as that's what it does] and I do not think this is really appropriate in a play area. Also, just bog standard woodchip will give the kids splinters.

If you want woodchip in a play area what you really need is chipped bark. which is a different beast. It won't give splinters and is much better with less fungus growth. Wood chip is literally trees put through a chipper. Bark is just the bark - usually pine - and the pieces are significantly softer and lovely to fall on. And you want one that is Play grade. It is completely different from landscaping bark.

You definitely need to put something down to contain the bark, black landscaping fabric is best. The one with the red and green lines through it. The thin stuff will degrade before the bark chips.

The bark WILL degrade though. It is a natural product. So after 3-4 years it will be a much smaller beast and will either need taking out and replacing, or topping up. Weeds will grow as it is the ideal environment for them but the better the grade of play bark the less weeds will grow as the longer it will stay 'barky'.

Oldraver Tue 06-Sep-16 13:33:34

Whatever you go with int he end I found B+Q's to be brilliant value..The 100ltr bags are 4 for £20

Pinkhousealreadyinuse Tue 06-Sep-16 18:26:42

Thank you! It was play grade bark that we were looking at, I'll have a look at b&q.

So I don't need type one under it then? That's good to know.

Qwebec Thu 08-Sep-16 02:56:00

Doreen is right.
What I suggested was for planting areas, I had not thaugh you would use it for small children.

Qwebec Thu 08-Sep-16 02:56:49

The newpaper breaks down, so your original idea would be better

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