The Many Uses of Wood Chips

April 15, 2021
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When you think of wood chips the first image that comes to mind may be your childhood days, swinging on the monkey bars and climbing on the play structure, wood chips beneath you to soften your fall. Wood chips indeed are a wonderful ground cover for many occasions, not just tot lots. Wood chips are in plentiful supply, from road crews, electric companies, and tree service businesses, and have a variety of utilities for many surface cover needs. 

Read on to learn about how you can get the most out of this versatile resource. 

Wood Chips Use #1: Playplace Surface Cover

As we discussed above, wood chips are commonly used as the ground cover in many playgrounds and personal play spaces — and for good reason! Wood chips are ideal playground material because they provide a safe and soft landing for children and the young at heart, cushioning falls and providing traction to prevent falls from happening in the first place. 

You can create a safe and fun playground in your own yard by filling in tot lot chips beneath swings and other play structures, and by inspecting the space regularly for any harmful debris that might accumulate that would create a risk when falling. 

Wood Chips Use #2: Mulch 

Wood chip mulch is another common use for this material. Wood chips mulch is an important part of any healthy garden or landscaping design as it helps the soil stay warm and retain moisture. Mulch also helps suppress weeds in garden beds, which helps you maintain them over time. As any gardener knows, keeping weeds at bay is one of the most important and endless tasks in the quest for a beautiful garden or yard. Mulch is helpful year-round. Spread a layer of wood chips over your planting beds after your fall harvest and as the weather starts to cool, to protect your annual plants and soil from the freezing temperatures and snowy conditions. And when you are preparing your garden for Spring and planting, repeat this spreading to keep it looking neat and healthy. Wood chips, of course, do not provide the necessary nutrients to our plants, so make sure to continue fertilizing and checking the health of your garden as it grows, and make sure to turn or remove old mulch before adding a new layer of wood chips to make sure your plants receive maximum sunlight. 

Wood Chips Use #3: Composting Material

In addition to a mulch layer, wood chips can also support your garden or landscaping needs as a compost addition. Because wood chips are rich in carbon, they are a great addition to any soil. They can accomplish this as mulch, but also as a “brown” layer in your compost pile. As the wood chips break down, their nutrients enrich the dirt and add nutrients that your plants will love. 

Wood Chips Use #4: Fuel

While most people look to logs and conventional fire wood when making fires, wood chips are a useful tool in this endeavor. Wood chips make a great fire starter because of their size and flammability, and can help keep a fire going for hours. They are useful as a fuel or fire starter for small, controlled fires. Wood chips are also a great fuel source for biomass reactors to help them power engines or provide heat. 

Wood Chips Use #5: Walkways

Wood chips are a useful resource to consider when planning a new or improved landscape design for your front, back, or side yard. Wood chips can serve as a great walkway substrate for heavily trodded or lightly used walkways. They even out uneven surfaces, and also suppress weeds in lawns and gardens, as discussed above. If you have a walkway carved out with a dirt or soil surface, wood chips are a useful way to keep them neat and visible with much less weeding and maintenance than a bare surface walkway. You can increase the longevity and usefulness of a wood chip walkway by removing any large debris from the path and using a weed barrier, such as a tarp, between the dirt and wood chips to keep it looking its best for years to come. 

Wood Chips Use #6: Erosion Control

Wood chips are not a long term plan to prevent or stop heavy erosion from happening, but they can be a useful temporary fix for an area of your yard experiencing this problem until you create a long term solution. By applying a layer of wood chips over an eroding surface, you can create a barrier to prevent further soil loss during heavy rain or melt events. 

Wood Chips Use #7: Décor

Beyond outdoor uses, wood chips are used in many useful domestic tips and tricks. Try using them in vases to stabilize dry or artificial flowers, keeping them upright and tall no matter what vessel they are in. Wood chips are also a fun tool when making furniture or art, providing variable color, shape, and pattern to add visual and textual interest to a piece. 

These seven uses just scratch the surface for what this plentiful and versatile resource can do. Keep wood chips in mind when planning your next outdoor or creative project!