The question continues to be: which is better, wood chips or barkdust mulch? The answer depends on an array of factors, the first of which has to do with your plan for the wood chips or barkdust. To anyone thinking about the two, you may be apt to say that they’re more similar than different, particularly as both come from trees. But each type of groundcover works best for certain applications, so it’s best to take your goals into consideration before deciding which to utilize.
Wood chips tend to be a bit more chunky, while barkdust is shredded. Both are sourced from trees and can be all-natural. However, smaller, shredded wood chips can be a combination of lumberyard tree wood and leftovers from the paper industries. Some mulches are also died to match a certain aesthetic.
What Are Wood Chips?
Wood chips, as their name suggests, are smaller pieces of wood that have been chipped off into chunks and shredded. If it’s coming directly from the source, then the wood chips will be untreated and may contain small amounts of leaves or bark. Wood chip mulch can vary in size. It comes in both bigger chunks and smaller shredded pieces.
Larger wood chips are a good choice for people looking to add nutrients to the soil because there’s a chemical diversity in them. They’re also able to absorb more moisture, keeping the area around plants and trees moist, and they generally decompose more slowly than shredded wood chips.
How Are Wood Chips Used?
Wood chips are helpful for adding a moisture layer to shrubs and plant life. There’s no reason to pile them up around the roots of the plant or the trunk of the tree. Instead, spread them around the tree in a ring shape, with the “tallest” parts of the ring a few inches away from the trunk or roots. This way, once they’re wet, they won’t cause any fungal issues by touching the tree but will still retain moisture for the tree’s needs just above the roots.
What Is Shredded Wood Mulch?
This is the byproduct of the paper mills and lumberyards, as opposed to coming from a freshly cut tree. Shredded wood mulch often comes in a variety of colors, and homeowners generally buy them to wedge around flowerbeds and flowering plants. While they may look great in the foreground of your home, it’s really not a wise choice for the overall health and well-being of your plants, your yard, or even your family. The various colors come from dyes that are laden with additives. These chemical cocktails can emit harmful fumes so they’re not recommended for the health of your plants.
This type of mulch can slowly compact due to rain or simply over time. It can be re-fluffed a bit, however, and you can optimize it for weed prevention by keeping it several inches thick atop the soil.
What Is Barkdust Mulch?
Bark mulch is a shredded, broken-down mulch from the bark of trees. Much like wood chips, it’s commercially produced to be used in gardens and on property so as to keep moisture from escaping from plants or trees in the form of soil evaporation. It can be added above ground to help nourish the soil naturally with its chemical composition, but it’s different than having chemical additives and tones added to the wood.
Bark chips are another way tree bark is used for gardening. They can sometimes provide strong moisture retention, but also function as an impediment for small weeds and invasive plants searching for sunlight. The bark chip mulch will prevent sunlight from getting through to anything underneath that might be trying to grow, keeping weeds out of the picture naturally.
Bark mulch can be used similarly to wood mulch: just encircle the roots of the plant life with a layer that is thick enough to keep the area moist and protect from the sun’s rays, while preventing the sun from penetrating through to the soil where weeds are vying to survive from below.
Where Can I Buy Wood Chips and Barkdust Mulch?
You can start by looking at your local garden store, but remember that many of these varieties might have chemical additives in them. For naturally processed and dye-free trees, you can talk to your local tree trimming or grooming businesses. Occasionally, tree-trimming or processing businesses will offer the natural remnants of their tree trimming and removal projects. Mr. Tree offers a selection of natural landscaping and mulching products.
Sometimes businesses will process their trees and branches into chips that have potentially harmful chemicals on them. Be sure to ask where the mulch is sourced from. Avoid mulch that’s been treated in any way and look for dye-free, chemical-free, natural wood chip and bark mulch. They’ll be much healthier for your plant and tree life.
Other Uses for Wood Chips and Barkdust Mulch
Wood chips can be a great source of support for growing particular produce, such as squash. Ground produce with smaller seeds (such as carrots and beets), might not grow very well with wood chips due to lack of sunlight, but other softer mulches can help support the growth of these vegetables.
Because wood chip mulch retains water, it can also be used in mushroom cultivation. The mushroom spores can be placed on the pre-soaked wood chips and preserved in a shady place. Another idea for wood chips is in crafts and outdoor creations, such as building a fence for an insect hotel.
Should you like more information about wood chips or barkdust mulch and their benefits to your yard, we are just a click away. Mr. Tree Services is your local expert in all things tree, even down to the roots and the mulch atop the soil.