Wood Chip Backyard – Is Mulching a Good Landscaping Idea?

Updated: | Author: Brad Javernick | Affiliate links may be present.

Making your backyard look inviting while also being functional can be a difficult task for any homeowner. Not only can landscaping be expensive, but it’s time-consuming. An easy option is to have a mulch backyard.

Using wood chips and wood mulch in your backyard is considered more eco-friendly and easier to maintain than traditional grass. It’s a popular choice for low-effort landscaping.

Backyard Wood Chips Landscaping

Because wood chips and wood mulch are natural and sustainable products, they are highly sought after for landscaping. They decompose on their own after several years, so they don’t need to be topped up very often.

They are also very easy to use, just pour it right out of the bag! (see a ready-to-use option on Amazon)

Wood Chip Yard Ideas

Mulch can be made out of many biodegradable products, but wood mulch is usually made from wood chips. There’s no limit to how you can use them in your backyard.

Weed Suppressors

Since mulch is usually laid in a thick layer, it will prevent most greenery from growing underneath it. This includes weeds. Lay it underneath trees and bushes to help maintain a beautiful, weed-free landscape.

Walking Path

Liven up your natural scenery by creating a wood chip walking path between your trees or around your garden. Lay plastic or stone edging around the outside of the path to keep all the mulch in place and prevent it from getting kicked around.

Patios and Playscapes

If you don’t have a designated patio, consider using wood chips or wood mulch instead of building a deck or pouring concrete. Just as with creating a walking path, put a practical and decorative border and mound up your mulch.

Most public playgrounds already utilize wood chips around the playscape because it’s better for the environment than pebbles, and it’s also cheaper. Bring this idea home and cut down on your lawn care time.

Potted Plants

Make your potted plants look like they can straight from the forest by placing a thin layer of wood mulch on top of their soil. Wood retains moisture very well so it won’t interfere with watering.

Winterizing Gardens

Aside from being attractive, wood mulch can also be practical. If you’ve already harvested the last of your crops from your garden for the year, lay wood mulch over the top of it to protect your nutrient-rich garden soil.

This can help protect it from the elements, such as drying out from the sun or freezing too deep in the winter. It also prevents it from being overrun by the surrounding grass or weeds, saving you time when you go to open your garden next year.

How to Replace Grass with Wood Chips

Whether you are only placing wood mulch in certain areas or you are mulching your entire backyard, you don’t need to remove all of your grass beforehand.

Cut Your Grass

You want to cut your grass as short as possible in the areas where you wish to lay mulch. If it’s not exceptionally long, you may be able to skip this step. Be sure to also pull any weeds you see or spray an eco-friendly weed-killer.

It’s important to note that it’s not recommended you till or dethatch your lawn before laying down mulch as this can bring weed seeds up to the surface.

Lay Down Your Light Blocking Layer

You want to block as much light as possible to ensure your grass and weeds are properly smothered. Newspapers and cardboard boxes are the recommended materials for this step because they will break down easily below the mulch.

Lay Your Mulch

Now that you’ve blocked the sunlight, now you want to block the air. Lay down a thick layer of mulch, no less than 2-3 inches.

Water the Mulch (Optional)

If you want to ensure that the mulch is packed down sufficiently, water the area well to make it heavier. This helps to completely suffocate the grass underneath. Afterwards, you can also walk on it to be sure it’s packed down thoroughly.

Top Off & Turn Over When Necessary

Because wood chips and wood mulch are naturally occurring, they will decompose over time back into the soil. With this comes the possibility of rot, which can cause fungus and a foul smell in your backyard.

Rake or shovel your mulch at least twice a season to keep it nice and broken up and prevent any area from obtaining mulch rot. Afterwards, you can top up with fresh mulch to make up for the areas that have decomposed.

Final Thoughts

Consider incorporating wood chips or wood mulch into your backyard landscaping. Not only is it good for the environment, but it’s easier on your wallet and offers a unique, low-maintenance way to liven up your existing scenery.

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About Brad Javernick

Brad is a licensed home inspector and the editor of Home Oomph. He's a massive DIYer, and loves to take on new home renovation projects!

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