How to Use Wood Chips as Mulch


Wood chips are one of the best mulches you can use in your garden. It prevents weed growth, aids with water retention and builds up the soil as it decomposes. Mulch creates a favorable environment for worms and microorganisms. It stays in place and decomposes slowly. Wood chip mulch is easy to use in landscapes, gardens and under trees.

Things You'll Need

  • Wood chips
  • Shovel
  • Black and white newspaper
  • Water


  • Start in the spring before the weeds have started growing. Put two to four layers of newspaper around flowers in the garden. Use only black and white sections, no color. If weeds are growing, cut them back close to the ground and apply papers.

  • Wet the newspaper thoroughly with a hose. Step on the papers to keep them in place.

  • Add a 2 to 4 inch layer of mulch around flowers, covering the newspaper completely. Keep the mulch 2 to 3 inches away from the foundation of buildings. Tamp the mulch down with your feet. Increase mulch every two to three years.

  • If you're mulching around trees, start 6 inches away from the trunk and mulch a foot past the drip-line. Use 4 inches of chips. Add 2 to 3 inches of new chips every couple of years to maintain a depth of 3 to 4 inches. Continue adding mulch to the diameter as the tree grows.

  • You can use a thick layer of wood chips to make a pathway.The path should be 18 to 36 inches wide. Dig the path one inch deep before adding the mulch. Line it with several layers of newspaper. Fill the path with wood chips, adding chips when needed.

Tips & Warnings

  • Wood chips are sometimes given away by tree trimming services and public compost sites. Check to see if your town has a program. Using wood chips is a great way to recycle. You can make your own by using a wood chipper.
  • Mulch may not do well on slopes. Mulch that is too thick can injure plant roots.

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