Everyone wants a beautiful yard to showcase the hard work you put into your property.
But when considering mulch materials, ensure you get one with minimal maintenance yet a maximum barrier to grass growth.
If you choose wood chips, can you count on them to prevent grass shoots from popping up in your wood chip path or decorative flower bed?
Unwanted grass and other hardy weeds can grow through the wood pieces if your mulch is laid too thinly or on top of an existing lawn. However, your mulch layer will prevent this if you lay it properly.
Keep reading to learn how to properly lay your mulch and prevent grass intrusion.
Why Should I Lay Wood Chips?
Properly laid mulch helps with grass suppression.
Typically, chips are laid as a way to create grass-free paths or decorative flower beds.
Wood chips are just large chunks from trees, so they are a natural option without any harmful effects on the surrounding area.
As they rot and decompose, they provide nutrients for the soil.
There are many other benefits to using them.
When laid correctly, grass growth suppression means the decorative flowers or plants you put in a decorative bed are not fighting any invasive grass species for nutrients.
The protective layer of mulch also acts as a temperature shield, keeping it warmer during cold weather and cooler during heat waves.
It also acts as a barrier for keeping moisture in the soil, conserving water in the roots, and reducing how much you need to water your beds.
Finally, using mulch on paths and ornamental beds is pretty.
It provides a natural, uniform look with fewer unsightly weeds.
Since trees need annual pruning, there is an almost endless supply of wood mulch.
Any local home and garden store in your area likely has multiple options on its shelves, making them readily available.
How to Lay Wood Chips Properly
Choose the Right Time
The first step to preventing unwanted plants from growing through the wood chips on your lawn is by laying them at the correct time.
It’s important not to lay your wood chips on an existing lawn.
The already-grown grass has a much higher chance of growing through the mulch than new grass seeds.
The best time of year is outside of the whole growth season for your grass.
Your mulch will benefit from time to settle before any new grass can grow through it.
If you have cool-season grass, lay your wood chips down during summer.
For a warm-season lawn, lay it down during the fall or winter.
Use Preventative Measures to Stop Grass Growing
During the inexpensive process of laying down mulch, there are steps to take to improve its effectiveness.
The layer needs to be thick.
A thin layer will open the possibility of grass quickly growing through it.
Instead of putting the layer on top of the existing lawn, dig up the ground you will put the mulch in.
For an even finish, when you are done with everything, dig trenches lower than the lawn next to it.
Everything will be level when you fill it in with your mulching material.
Landscaping fabric is an excellent material to prevent the growth of weeds and grasses.
Before putting the mulch down, place the landscaping fabric on top of the soil.
Then add your thick layer of wood chips.
Maintain Your Wood Chips
The next step after laying your mulch is to properly maintain it.
Watch for unwanted plants growing through the mulch layer and pull them out.
You wouldn’t have too many grass blades sticking through if you laid everything correctly.
It is still possible, though, and you want to prevent there from being too many weeds at a time to handle.
Your primary focus area is the edges of your mulch.
Some species of grass can spread through rhizomes, and they are more likely to be able to grow over and through your mulch layer.
Finally, add fresh wood chips to replenish your mulch layer as it breaks down.
We’ll cover the reason why this happens next.
Do Wood Chips Turn Into Soil?
Many popular mulch options are biodegradable, and this includes wood chips.
Over time, they will break down and turn into soil.
To maintain organic mulch, you need to add more mulch to make up for what has broken down.
Different weather conditions affect the breakdown of the wood chips, but it usually takes around three to four years to fully decompose.
Some wood trips are treated, so they take a little longer to break down than the natural version.
This then provides valuable nutrients for the soil and whatever plants are growing there.
Unfortunately, the micro-organisms also start to break down and require more nitrogen.
If they take too much nitrogen from the soil, this harms the growth of the plants you put there.
You will want to add a high-nitrogen fertilizer to combat this.
How Do I Remove Wood Chips?
Sometimes, gardeners decide they want a change of materials for their beds or want to move them to a new area.
Other times, they decide to redo their mulching because it wasn’t done the first time properly.
Either way, removing an existing layer is a fairly easy process.
It only requires tools you likely already have in your gardening arsenal: a garden hoe, shovel, wheelbarrow or buckets, and biodegradable garden bags for disposal.
Start by raking everything up into one large pile.
Then use your shovel to transfer into a wheelbarrow or other receptacle if you plan to reuse them or move to another area of your yard.
If you plan to dispose of the used mulch at a landfill, transfer it into a biodegradable garden bag instead.
If you used landscaping or weed barrier fabric underneath your mulch layer, remove it and roll it up.
The area is now ready to dig a larger trench for re-mulching, turning back into a normal lawn, or placing a new form of mulch.