Mulch Vs. Wood Chips: The Differences You Must Know

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they differ from wood chips. I decided to research them, and here are the differences.

Wood chips are bulkier and more extensive than mulch. Hence, they make for a cleaner cover and last longer than mulch. However, mulch retains water better. They also insulate plants’ roots better. And they provide better nutritional value. Generally, wood chips are more suitable for playgrounds, while mulch is best suited for gardens.

Mulch is somewhat of a general classification as there are different mulch, which we will discuss further below.

Differences Between Mulch and Wood Chips

There’s an overlap in the application and use of mulch and wood chips for landscaping and gardening. Generally, they are both used to protect and nourish plant species.

bark mulch home depot

However, regardless of these overlaps, they are distinct. And these differences are visible from three perspectives.

Bark Mulch vs. Wood Chips

Now, we will discuss the differences between bark mulch and wood chips.

How bark mulch and wood chips are Made

Bark mulch is created by chipping away the outer bark of coniferous plants. For instance, plants like fir or pine trees. They generally last as much as ten years.

On the other hand, wood chips get made from the shredded interior of trees. Typically, they last as much as five years.

While wood chips come from the interior part of trees, bark mulch comes from the exterior portion.

Differences of feeling between bark mulch and wood chips

Although they come from identical trees, the final results are also distinct.

Generally, bark mulch usually has a more rigid and elegant texture. On the other hand, wood chips are usually denser and softer. However, wood chips are traditionally chunkier in comparison to bark mulch.

How bark mulch and wood chips Are Used

bunnings wood chips

Thanks to its texture, bunnings bark mulch are helpful in areas where wood chips will likely slip or slide out from their appropriate location. However, it’s not perfect for areas with a higher probability of getting flooded or recording heavy downpours.

Bark mulch also retains moisture more effectively in comparison to wood chips.

Differences in benefits of using bark mulch and woodchips

Bark mulch also prevents sunlight from getting to weed roots within the mulch, thus reducing weed growth. They effectively insulate plant roots, provide higher nutritional content than wood chips, and are generally best suited to garden areas.

On the other hand, wood chips are less susceptible to getting washed away or blown away.

Also, they are less likely to compact in comparison to bark mulches. Generally, they provide a better uniform ground cover. They are best suited for trails and playgrounds with high foot traffic.

Shredded Wood Mulch vs. Wood Chips

We will discuss the differences between shredded wood mulch and wood chips.

How shredded wood mulch and wood chips Are Made

Shredded wood mulches often emerge as byproducts of the paper and lumber industries. On the other hand, wood chips get made from the shredded interior of trees. Typically, they consist of different materials, such as bark and leaves.

While wood chips emerge from nature, shredded wood mulches are generally synthetic.

However, shredded wood mulch may also include organic substances.

Differences in feel between shredded wood mulch and wood chips

The shredded wood mulch and wood chips are different in texture thanks to their makeup.

First, wood chips usually contain bigger chunks than shredded wood mulch. For instance, while pieces of wood chips might be around 4 inches long and 3 inches wide, shredded wood mulch is usually about 2 inches and 1.5 inches, respectively.

Also, wood chips absorb moisture better than shredded wood mulches, thanks to their size. Similarly, wood chips take more time to decompose than shredded wood mulches.

How shredded wood mulch and wood chips Are Used

Below are the main uses of shredded wood mulches as well as woodchips.

  • Shredded wood mulches are available in different colors and are mainly used as flower beds.
  • However, shredded wood mulch may contain chemical compounds, especially dyed wood. These can be harmful to plants and animals. They might also compact as time goes on when they break down.
  • Thanks to their chemical diversity, wood chips are excellent nutritional materials for the soil. They provide a variety of nutrients to the soil, making them more suited to gardening.

All this talk about different types of mulch, but we haven’t had a low down on what mulch is. Read on to the next part to learn what mulch is and what can be mulched.

What is Mulch?

Mulch is any material you can put on the soil and around your plants. They are usually organic and, as such, can perform various functions such as:

Reducing water evaporationPreventing and regulating soil compaction as well as maintaining soil moisture
Preventing the increase of weedsControlling soil temperature, especially during harsh weather conditions

Generally, they also increase the activities of microorganisms within the soil. They improve soil quality and provide a natural and uniform feel to garden and landscape environments.

There are various types of mulch, and they include pinewood chips, cedar mulch home depo, and cypress. And they can help you eliminate fleas, ticks, and gnats.

You can also make mulches from various organic and inorganic substances.

Organic substances that can be made into mulchInorganic substances that can be made into mulch
grass clippingsrubber
straw and haycrushed gravel
pine bark and needlesplastic sheeting
leaves and leaf moldpebbles
compostinorganic pine needles
pecan shellswoven ground clothing

Like all the materials stated above, wood chips are just another type of organic mulch.

Should I Use Mulch or Wood Chips?

As I already mentioned, there’s an overlap between the use and application of mulch and wood chips. You can use both for your general landscaping and gardening activities.

However, deciding which to use for specific events or conditions can be challenging. Here’s a guide.

Benefits of using woodchips for a specific activityBenefits of using mulch for a specific activity
Wood chips are an excellent option for shrubs, perennials, and treesAdvisable if you’re looking towards a balanced carbon-to-nitrogen percentage in your garden
Advisable if you’re looking towards a flat carbon-to-nitrogen rate in your gardenMore suitable for garden areas and needs.
Useful as compost material due to the presence of carbon. It can be used for carbon topping.Advisable to be used for more robust plants or trees
Suitable to use for paths and sidewalks as they appear uniform.
To control erosion, use wood chips to create a barrier to avoid soil loss.

Regardless, your choice should depend on the prevailing weather conditions in your area. Also, you might want to consider the sustainability of your choice.

Using Wood Chips as Mulch

As I mentioned earlier, wood chips and mulch overlap in their application. As such, you can use wood chip drops in the UK as mulch. And this is primarily thanks to their makeup.

Wood chips consist of scrap wood or back pieces and work well with perennials, shrubs, trees, and little fruiting species.

Advantages of using woodchips as mulch

To utilize wood chips as mulch, you can apply between two and four inches of these chips to your plant’s base. Also, ensure the spread of the wood chips is wide. The width may, however, depend on the size of your plant.

Also, when you use them as mulch, they have significant effects. For instance, they help prevent damage in areas with intense rainfall.

They all improve the survival rate of small trees. Thanks to their composition, they also develop the soil’s organic content and nutrients.

Disadvantages of using woodchips as mulch

However, while it has excellent advantages, it has some downsides distinct from traditional mulches. For instance, leaving them outside for too long may produce acids and various harsh compounds.

And this is because they suffer from reduced oxygen circulation or other anaerobic conditions. It might also emit dangerous vapors in warm weather, destroying or killing your plants. So should you remove old mulch? Only you can decide that, but this post will help you make that choice.

FAQs on Mulch Vs. Wood Chips: The Differences You Must Know

What Type of Mulch Is the Best?
A mulch with bigger chunks is preferable. This is because it’s less likely to decompose fast. Generally, organic mulch is also the best choice as it improves the soil when deteriorating. It is also always better to pick red-colored mulch as it provides more contrast to gardens.

Do Wood Chips Prevent Weeds?
Yes, wood chips stop most weeds. However, some weeds can still penetrate the mulch tier of wood chips. They may also grow under the surface of wood chips around their decomposing layer. It’s best to stop weeds and cut them before reaching maturity to stop more weeds from growing.

Should I remove old mulch?
Save yourself from the unnecessary hassle of removing old mulch. There is no need to clear it out as it breaks down slowly. Upon checking the mulch layer left in spring over the old one, you can add a new layer to reach the necessary depth for your plants and garden beds.

Conclusion on Mulch vs. Woodchips and their differences

Hopefully, comparing different mulch side types with woodchips will help you choose which species to use for your gardening and maybe even landscaping needs.

If you want to look into the gardening side and mulch usage, such as straw, compost, and other organic materials for specific garden needs, feel free to look into this article I wrote on the best mulch for a better understanding.

Consider using cheap wood chips for playground areas, as you can get cheap wood chippings from local arborists, and these are not as important for mulch around plants.

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