Wood chips have several uses, from adding decor to a garden to actually providing a valuable service like protection against weeds. Wood chips can be made from a variety of materials, such as cedar, pine bark or oak, and it's important that you choose the type of wood chips that work for you and your garden. The most useful way to use wood chips is to prevent weeds and retain moisture around your plants. There are some things to keep in mind when using wood chips, such as how and where to apply them.
Decide what type of wood chips you want to use. This all depends on the size, appearance and material that you want. Sizes range from small nuggets to shredded. Materials range from cedar, pine, cocoa, or oak (to name a few) that can provide different aromas or texture to your garden. Some are even made of materials that can actually deter pests or insects from your garden.
Prepare your soil wherever you're going to apply the wood chips by raking the dirt even, and removing all weeds, large rocks, dirt clods or roots. Smooth out the soil with the rake or your hands once you are done removing any obstructions.
Layer the wood chips evenly over the ground until the area is completely covered. A sufficient layer is about three to four inches. Apply them around your plants, reaching out to the longest branches, to retain moisture and prevent weed growth.
Rake up the wood chips each spring season, as sunlight, rain or cold winters can wear them over time. Remove the top inch or two each spring as well and replace it with a fresh layer.
Use a type of landscape fabric underneath the layer of wood chips if desired. This provides added protection for weeds. Roll out this fabric over the prepared soil, make holes in it for planting or to work around plants, and then layer the wood chips on top.