How to Use Large Wood Chips As Soil Amendment


Soil amendments are mixed into the top soil to improve the soils drainage, nutrient levels and available oxygen. Large wood chips decompose slowly and are best used to improve drainage and aeration in soils with high clay content. However, although wood chips do improve the soil, they also temporarily tie up some of its available nitrogen. Contact your local county extension office and arrange to have a soil test conducted one year after you amend the soil. The results will tell you if you need to add more nitrogen to your plant's fertilizer.

Step 1

Loosen the top 6 to 8 inches of your soil with a hand tiller. Remove any rocks or other plant debris that you encounter along the way.

Step 2

Spread a 3 inch layer of large wood chips. Follow it by a 1 inch layer of manure or compost to replace the nitrogen that the wood chips will leach out of the soil.

Step 3

Turn the soil again, thoroughly mixing the amendments into the top 6 inches of the soil.

Tips and Warnings

  • Only use unpainted, untreated wood chips.

Things You'll Need

  • Hand tiller
  • Manure


  • Colorado State University: Choosing a Soil Amendment
  • University of Florida: Producing Garden Vegetables with Organic Soil Amendments
  • Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources: Wood Chips Exempt Use Guidance
Keywords: wood chips, clay soil, amendment

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Emma Gin is a freelance writer who specializes in green, healthy and smart living. She is currently working on developing a weight-loss website that focuses on community and re-education. Gin is also working on a collection of short stories, because she knows what they say about idle hands.