The Diverse Uses of Garden Bark Chippings
Wood and garden bark chippings are a must-have in every gardener’s shed, with multiple uses, from landscaping and tidying up borders to mulching, suppressing weed growth and supporting enhanced water retention.
As perhaps one of the most underrated resources, a simple bag of garden bark chippings is affordable, durable, and sustainable, derived from waste products and repurposing natural materials that would otherwise be headed for landfill.
Garden Bark Chippings for Mulching
Garden bark chippings laid over the soil in an even layer protect younger and emerging roots from adverse weather conditions and are equally useful for safeguarding plants against frost damage during the colder months or direct sunlight during summer heatwaves.
Adding chippings as a mulch improves the soil conditions for more fragile or developing plants by assisting with enhanced moisture retention – although we recommend you pick bark chippings that are suited to mulching since fresh chippings can absorb nitrogen from the soil.
The bark is as effective as many other mulching solutions or sheets and controls weed growth while regulating temperature, preventing the soil from becoming overly saturated or drying out.
Adding Wood Chip to Borders and Flower Beds
Alongside the practicalities, bark chippings look smart and tidy and can be used in every area of your garden, from borders to container plants and larger planted flower beds. To achieve good weed protection, you should lay your chippings around 5 cm thick across the surface of the soil.
Chippings come in varied sizes, and if you’d like to use wood chips in plant pots or tubs, we’d suggest a smaller grade chipping, which continues to support good water levels, meaning you won’t need to water potted plants as frequently during warmer weather.
Over time, wood chips begin to break down, but this can take up to two years through natural composting, and you won’t normally need to refresh or replace chippings any more often than once per year.
The breakdown of wood chips is also beneficial, particularly when compared to planted areas without any mulching, where the older wood aerates and enriches the soil quality while stimulating plant growth for all species of shrubs and trees.
Using Bark Chippings for Footpaths
Wood chip is a great way to create a durable, natural pathway within your garden at a fraction of the cost of laying slabs, concreting or purchasing decorative gravel – with the caveat that your chippings will need to be replaced now and then.
However, the texture and low maintenance nature of bark chips means they provide an easy solution, preferably with a membrane underneath the chippings and over the soil. The right weed suppressant membrane will depend a little on your garden and the location of your path, but you can add holes at intervals to ensure water drains away quickly.
Garden bark chippings that form a path should be around twice the depth as mulch, so around 10 cm deep – a deeper base is ideal since it will contain the chips within the designated space.
The Advantages of Garden Bark Chippings
Bark chippings are low-cost, eco-friendly, and a good option if you are keen to avoid more intrusive landscaping materials – wild gardens also thrive with wood chip mulch and paths since the bark provides support for native ecosystems and British bugs without introducing any toxins that can affect plants.
This hard-working, simple material can be used in borders, beds, hanging baskets and tubs, as well as in flower beds and planted areas, and controls weed growth while keeping water levels in the soil at an optimal level.
Spreading chippings as mulch is quick and straightforward, and you can select from a variety of chippings depending on the grade, style and appearance you’d like your garden bark chippings to have.
Raw, natural materials are an increasing trend in the horticultural world. As a low-environmental impact, eco-friendly by-product, darker chips work especially well at landscaping around shrubs, offsetting the colour and texture of flowers and leaves.
You can incorporate the same bark in different spaces to unify your outdoor design and link planted areas for a consistent aesthetic or select contrasting bark chippings to delineate borders and pathways, using texture and colour that looks fantastic against slate, shingle, timber and pebbles or decorative stones.
Advice on Laying Bark Chippings in Your Garden
As we’ve noted, the depth of your chippings will depend a little on where you’re applying bark chips within your garden, and a pathway will need to be laid around 10 cm deep, compared to 5 cm for mulching.
Laying a weed membrane will extend the lifespan of your chips, and you should ideally look for chippings that have been labelled as suitable for mulching to avoid adding raw timber chips to your soil since this can negatively affect the nitrogen content.
In planting, the chips should be spread evenly and right up to the base of every plant, extending out to the edge of the border for a cohesive finish and to provide the best protection against frost, rain and high temperatures.
Most chippings retain their appearance for around two years but refreshing your mulch once every 12 months is normally sufficient. It is advisable to restore rather than completely replace the mulch since the wood returns nutrition to the soil as compost. Simply mixing in a new layer of garden bark chippings or removing the mulch to combine with fresh chips and re-spreading is the best option.
AK Kin stocks a comprehensive range of garden bark chippings from leading brands such as Pro-Grow and Melcourt, with chippings that are renewably sourced in the UK, as a quality mark for gardeners and professional landscapers creating garden spaces with sustainability and the environment in mind.
Please browse our extensive Growing Media catalogue, with various options from Pine Mini Mulch to Decorative Ornamental Bark Mulch, Eco Bark Toppers for potting, and Play Bark for children’s play areas.