Versatile bark and woodchips are popular materials for using in the garden to instantly tidy borders, create paths and act as weed suppressants. As environmentally-friendly, sustainable products they provide economical solutions to a variety of garden problems. However, always use bark and woodchips that have been professionally treated because using them fresh or raw will actually drain the soil of nutrients. Checking that bark and woodchips are certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) will ensure that they have been sourced from a managed woodland.
Bark and woodchips applied in the damp spring months are perfect for protecting garden plants in borders during the heat of the summer as they help to conserve vital water. However, spreading a layer that is two to three inches thick in the autumn will be invaluable in protecting a variety of shrubs and perennials from the icy winds and snow of winter. They are best applied to soil that is already damp so if September turns out to be dry, wait until October when there’s sure to be rain about.
Weeds And Feeds
Borders with a mulch of bark and woodchips look attractive as the dark, natural woodland appearance shows plants to their best advantage but there are more practical reasons to use them. A dense layer will stifle germinating weed seedlings making garden maintenance even easier. The bark and woodchips decompose at a very slow pace but they are packed full of nutrients such as nitrogen and potassium which are released at a steadily measured rate, dispensing with the need to purchase slow-release chemical fertilisers. For best results always apply to soil that has been weeded and watered, preferably with rain water to be even more ecological.
Toxic Play Areas?
Bark chips that have been specially refined to be less rough are perfect for creating a comfortable surface beneath swings and climbing frames. It is important to use certified products that can identify the type of bark or wood used to ensure that highly toxic materials such as yew are not included. Pine is the most frequently used but never use these chips fresh from the shredder as they can contain chemical compounds that are harmful unless they have been treated first.
Counting The Cost
Creating new paths of slabs or natural stone flags can often be an expense that many householders can’t always afford. Bark and woodchips can provide the solution. Informal pathways can quickly achieve an attractive woodland appearance when bark or woodchips are used. Designs can actually incorporate more twists and turns than with slabs as bark is so versatile in use. For best results thoroughly weed the area and secure a breathable membrane or plastic sheeting with drainage holes before spreading the bark to a depth of about four inches. Bark and woodchips have a long life span and only need replenishing very occasionally making them a cost effective choice. Find out more about bark and woodchips at Greenvale.