10 Great Ways To Use Wood Chips in a Garden

Wood chips are easily available in most homesteads in large amounts. Instead of letting this valuable resource lie around, do you know you can use it in your garden?

Some great ways to use wood chips in a garden include making wood chips paths, creating wildlife habitats or new gardening spots, and for growing mushrooms. You can also use them for mulching, composting, protecting the garden, and generating biochar. Wood chips also make great livestock bedding.

With all the above exciting ways to use wood chips, remember that not all wood chips are created the same. For example, hardwood chips from trees like oak break tend to break down slowly, while softwood chips like maple degenerate faster. Read on as we expound on the different ways to use wood chips in a garden.

1. Make Convenient Wood Chips Paths

Whether you purchase wood chips or use a shredder to make yours, this material can benefit your garden in many ways. You only need to know where and how to use it in your garden. A good place to start is by making convenient wood chip paths.

Landscaping using wood chips is a simple way to add a functional yet appealing finishing touch to your garden.

Wood chips may more or less cost the same as other pathway materials, but they are also low maintenance, and you can easily top up when you need to. These are some of the reasons many people use them on garden paths. 

What’s more, if you already have the wood chips in your homestead, you don’t need to buy them, saving you money.

Another reason these chips are an excellent option for garden paths is that they don’t get muddy or flood with water during the wet season. They will also help prevent soil erosion.

2. Use the Wood Chips To Create Wildlife Habitats

You can use wood chips in several ways when creating wildlife habitats. For instance, making heaps out of wood chips will attract many beneficial creatures to your garden.

Moreover, you can also use the chips to construct dedicated houses and boxes for specific garden-friendly animals. 

Ensure you don’t use chemically treated wood chips in your garden because this could endanger the wildlife. To avoid using these chemically treated ones, don’t go for commercial wood chips. 

3. Create New Gardening Spots 

Another exciting way to use wood chips is by creating new growth areas for gardening. You can do this by making raised garden beds in areas that were previously not used for gardening.

In this case, you’d be using the lasagna bed technique. This method of creating gardening spots is a no-dig strategy. You basically lay organic matter the way you make a compost heap and, in the process, use your wood chips as part of the brown carbon-rich matter.

After a few months of decomposing on-site, the spot will be ready for growing crops, and you don’t need to till it first. Isn’t that ideal?

4. Use Wood Chips To Grow Mushrooms

You can create the perfect environment for growing mushrooms when gardening with wood chips. In fact, wood chips are one of the best substrates for growing mushrooms.  

For the best outcome: 

  1. Soak a bucket of wood chips in water for at least a week before using them. 
  2. Dig a big hole in a shady location and use cardboard to line it. 
  3. Fill the space with the drained wood chips before you scatter mushroom spawn on it. 
  4. Cover with a second layer of drained wood chips and leave it alone. 
  5. Wait for the mushrooms to sprout and grow in the next few weeks then harvest.

Note that even wild mushrooms can grow in your wood chips substrate, so be careful to identify the ones you plant and only pick these for your consumption. 

5. Use Wood Chips for Mulching

Mulch is a material you layer on top of your garden to protect plants from frost and direct sunlight. It also boosts plant growth by supplying nutrients or increasing mineral content, reducing water loss from the soil, and suppressing weed growth. 

You can make wood chips by shredding edge/shrub prunings and stems from young trees or tree suckers and use them as fresh mulch. You can also make wood chips from the bark of larger, mature trees and use them as fresh mulch in unplanted areas or around your well-established garden. 

It is vital to note that commercially-sourced wood chips may contain chemicals that could harm your young plants. This can make your plants defenseless against deterring potential herbivores and the growth of rival plants, such as weeds. Therefore, avoid using commercially-sourced wood chips.

6. Create a Relaxation Area in Your Garden

Are you fortunate to have a favorite sitting spot in your back garden? A place to relax and enjoy nature’s tranquility? You can make it even more appealing by creating a semi-natural outdoor seating area using wood chips.

Keep it simple to maintain the place’s identity and prioritize nature. A flat, cleared ring of wood chips could mark the location without looking too artificial.  

Use cut logs, wooden benches, or simple wooden chairs to compliment the entire look, and remember to include a smaller log for a convenient table. 

And there you have it, your relaxing spot in the middle of your garden.

7. Use Wood Chips To Protect Your Garden During Winter

You may need to protect your summer vegetable garden during winter, and what better way than to use wood chips. Simply layer the wood chips on cardboard or newspaper over the garden beds to protect the soil and prepare it for spring planting. 

The newspaper or paperboard underneath prevents the wood chips from getting into the soil you’ll turn over when planting your summertime vegetables. 

By using this method to protect your garden during winter, the organic manure laid over your garden first will break down faster, thanks to the cardboard and wood chips.

8. Use Wood Chips To Make Compost

The two most popular components in backyard compost piles are household waste and lawn or garden waste, which both have a high concentration of nitrogen. 

Add wood chips to improve the carbon to nitrogen ratio of your compost pile. 

Moreover, because wood chips are less susceptible to compacting, their structure helps improve airflow through the compost. 

Remember that smaller chips decompose much faster than larger ones, making them ideal for use in a compost pile. 

9. Use Wood Chips To Produce Biochar

Are you already feeling inspired by the many creative ways you can use wood chips in your garden instead of simply getting rid of them? Well, there’s more.

Yet another ingenious way to use wood chips is to generate biochar.

Biochar is a carbon-rich, stable type of charcoal that you add to soil to effectively remove carbon and lower net greenhouse gasses.

Making and adding biochar to the soil is another way to boost its fertility and add organic matter to your garden. Creating biochar is beneficial, particularly for home gardens with free-draining and nutrient-deficient soils.

Given all these benefits of biochar, go ahead and use your wood chips to make some and start reaping results.

10. Make Livestock Bedding 

Apart from planting crops on your farm, do you also keep livestock? If the answer is yes, then this is another fantastic opportunity to use wood chips. You can make great bedding for your  livestock using this cost-effective material. 

Wood chips will cost you less than using straw, especially if you have the chips readily available around your homestead. 

However, before making the livestock bedding, you need to confirm that the wood chips are appropriate for this use. For example, you want to avoid commercially-sourced wood chips as they may contain chemicals that could harm the livestock. Also, ensure the wood chips are small enough and remove any sharp objects therein to avoid injuring your animals. 

Wood chips do a great job as livestock bedding because they produce very little or no dust. They also keep the livestock shed clean.

Alexander Picot

Alexander Picot is the principal creator of TheGrowingLeaf.com, a website dedicated to gardening tips. Inspired by his mother’s love of gardening, Alex has a passion for taking care of plants and turning backyards into feel-good places and loves to share his experience with the rest of the world.

Recent Posts