Wood chips are often discarded as a second-rate material – unfit for service in the garden, or elsewhere. That is, as you’re about to see – all wrong.
Wood chips aren’t just dead chips of wood, they’re actually a source of life in and of themselves, and an incredibly useful and valuable product around the home, school or anywhere with a garden, tree or walkway.
So, before you throw out those precious chips, have a look at how you can repurpose them to your advantage.
1. Use them as mulch
The most common thing to do with wood chips is to use them as mulch in the garden or as a base for trees around your property. Mulch is incredibly good at keeping moisture in and preventing the sun from evaporating water used for irrigation. Mulch is also great at keeping those pesky weeds from ever seeing the light of day (literally). Mulch is a great way to manage your garden – especially if you’re after a less labour-intensive approach.
2. Use it in your compost
Wood chips are a fantastic natural ingredient in your compost heap. Including layers amongst your compost will create what’s known as a ‘grey layer’, which is basically a layer of carbon that will slowly break down and enrich your compost over time.
3. Create wood chip pathways
Mulch is the perfect path-building material. It’s easily spreadable and can form any amount of winding pathways through or around garden beds.
If you’re struggling with weeds popping up around your garden beds – a wood chip pathway can easily help suppress them from coming up.
4. Use it as firewood
Wood chips are, after all, bits of wood that are perfect for fuelling a small fire stove or even an outdoor barbecue. If you want to use them as firewood for the winter – make sure you find a dry spot off the ground to store them so they don’t get damp. If you throw them on the fire and they’re damp you’ll end up smoking the place out.
5. Create natural walls in your garden
Gardens can be difficult to work with – especially if you’re facing erosion from rain, wind or simply poor soil structure.
Wood chips can help you keep that garden bed from slumping into oblivion. Add a pile of wood chips to the area and build up a ‘wall’ to prevent the sand from seeping through. This method can also be used effectively to create mini walls around veggie patches to prevent large downpours from washing away your precious seedlings.
6. Use wood chips for livestock bedding
If you own some livestock or horses, wood chips can be an effective and cheap alternative to straw hay for the flooring of your animal shelter. It keeps dry and clean – and doesn’t easily attract dust or dirt so will serve well as a floor-bed for your animals.
7. Wood chips are ideal for playground flooring
Wood chips are also the perfect material to use for a children’s playground. First up, it’s not sand or dirt – so you can rest easy knowing that even though the kids will get a few marks on their clothes – it won’t be a complete and total mess.
8. Use wood chips to grow mushrooms
Homegrown mushrooms are a fun and interesting way to expand your gardening skills beyond plants and flowers and into the realm of fungi.
Mushrooms require certain conditions (known as substrates) to grow wood chips, along with coffee grinds and sawdust are the perfect solution. Wood chips are also helpful in keeping the moisture levels just right.
9. Use wood chips in your home chicken coop
Chickens can be messy little things and they’re especially well known for scratching up the ground – wherever they are. Wood chips are therefore a great way to keep the ground intact – while giving the creatures something to scratch away at. Just make sure to use fully natural hardwood products to build designer chicken coops – especially if you’re raising chickens and harvesting eggs.
10. Create a small seated area in your garden
Spending more time in the garden isn’t just a nice way to spend the day – it’s also good for our health and well-being. Creating the perfect space to hang out can be an expensive project – especially if you’re starting from scratch. Wood chips offer a smart and cheap DIY solution to a simple and natural garden seating area. You can use a mixture of rocks and bricks to line the area and make a winding path through your garden to access it.
Where to get quality wood chips and wood chippers
Wood chips are easily purchased from any garden centre or local hardware store. You could also try arborists and tree surgeons in your local area – some may supply processed wood chips straight to your property.
If you want access to the tools needed to create wood chips from scrap wood – you’ll need a commercial wood chipper for the job. Wood chippers can also be bought or leased from your local industrial equipment supplier.