A growing area mulched with wood chips is not only an attractive growing spot in a landscape, but the wood chips also serve to improve the growing conditions. Wood chips keep soil moist, they help prevent weed growth, they can improve the soil composition and they help keep the soil cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Lay wood chips down over the soil in a flowerbed, vegetable bed, around shrubs and beneath trees for an attractive and effective mulch.
Prepare the area where you will apply the wood chips. Use the garden hoe or the spade to till the soil if weeds are growing. If there is grass growing, remove it as well. Rake the soil smooth after you finish preparing it.
Lay down landscape fabric over the soil to prevent future weeds, if you desire. Landscape fabric will prevent weeds from growing through the wood chips. If you lay the wood chips in a 4-inch layer, most weeds will not penetrate through this depth, even without landscape fabric blocking their growth.
Shovel the wood chips over the planting area until you have a 3- to 4-inch layer.
Pull the wood chips back away from direct contact with trees and shrubs by making a 6-inch space between the trees or shrubs and the wood chips. Pull wood chips 2 to 3 inches away from herbaceous plants.
Rake the wood chips smooth and level with the rake. Tamp the wood chips lightly with the back of a wide shovel to help hold them in place.
Replenish wood chips about every two years to keep the depth at the optimal 3 to 4 inches.