Wood chips are of more benefit than just being cosmetic. Once being in place they break the impact of raindrops and prevent soil erosion. Wood chips also offer insulation, protecting the trees roots from the summer heat and also preventing evaporation of water from the soil so the plant remains hydrated. There is no need to spread a weed barrier of black plastic or landscape “fabric” over the ground, then top it with a thin layer of chips. The chips serve no purpose other than cosmetic if landscaped in this fashion. The only purpose here would be to hide the ugly material that lies beneath.
Besides depriving the soil of some of the benefits of chips, spreading chips over a permanent weed barrier leads to other problems. Worst of all is when the alleged weed barrier inevitably begins to peek through as the chip layer slides around. Then even the cosmetic benefit is lost. Rather than using a non-decomposable weed barrier, pile chips right on top of bare soil or, if weeds are present, on top of paper or newspaper mulch, which eventually decomposes.
Another piece of misinformation is that gardeners have believed that chips sold in bags are better than those made from locally chipped trees. Are termites attracted to the wood chip and will then destroy my plants? It is a seemly logical thought but termites feed on a variety of cellulose sources such as old roots, twigs, and other carbon based material in and on the ground. A mulch based on wood chips is an insignificantly contribution to the existing smorgasbord of cellulose materials.
Do diseases spread from the chipped, dead trees to the plants under which you spread the chips? This isn’t a problem because most fungi that attack living wood cannot survive on dead wood so would expire in the chips. So even if you buy and spread wood chips from a diseased pine tree to under another tree, your tree won’t get sick unless the disease survives in the dead chips and is able to be spread to your variety/species of tree, and the conditions are conducive to disease spread. The chances of this is almost like winning (a very unlucky) lottery.
The wood chip from local arborists requires more frequent replacement than store bought wood chip, but it is usually is 1/6th or less than the regular price. To get a load of local wood chips, give us a call and we will be happy to give you a tailored quote and deliver the product to your garden.