As we head to spring, you must be going back and forth, thinking about which one from wood chips vs. mulch is the right choice.

We understand mulch vs. wood chips are both inorganic and are widely used by people in their garden beds.

Whether you have a produce garden or an ornamental one, our comparison of wood chips vs. mulch will give you your answer.

Also Read: Mulch Vs. Rock (2024 Comparison)

What is Mulch?

An answer post answering what is mulching

Mulch comes in a variety of forms, both organic and inorganic. Each offers unique benefits. 

Any material that can serve as a ground cover to shield soil and plant roots is mulch. Mulching also creates a clean look and lessens weed growth in walks and between pavers. 

What Are Wood Chips?

To know why there’s a need to compare wood chips vs. mulch, you must know their types and purpose.

Basically, using wood chips has the benefit of gradually adding more nutrients to the soil. The soil can absorb nutrients as the wood chip mulch gradually decomposes due to its organic nature. 

Also Read: Stone and Mulch Landscaping Ideas For Your Front Yard

Types of Wood Chips Mulch

An infographic on the types of wood chip mulch

1. Bark Mulch 

The most widely available organic mulch on the market is hardwood bark mulch. It is made from old bark fragments from hardwood trees like maple, ash, hickory, and oak.

The stunning appearance of hardwood bark mulch is an indisputable advantage. 

The uneven pieces can add a charming and natural look to landscape beds.

It shields the soil from evaporation, making it an effective water-conservation tool. Because the mulch makes it easy for air to pass through, it also aids in aerating the soil.

The ease of finding hardwood bark mulch is another fantastic feature. 

It’s among the most widely available mulches on the market right now and does not cost too much compared to other groundcover choices.

To get an overview of the prices of mulch, read our blog on Cost of Mulch: Learning the Variations in Total Prices.

2. Shredded Hardwood 

It comprises thinner and smaller strands than the huge bark nuggets in hardwood bark mulch.

Mulch made of hardwood bark is less effective at retaining moisture than shredded hardwood. 

In addition, it breaks down more quickly and enriches the soil with more nutrients.

Compared to the larger bark fragments, the shredded portions stay together better. They won’t roll away, making them ideal for laying in sloping terrain. They also have a lower chance of floating away during rain.

3. Pine Bark

The most common source of pine bark mulch, which is lightweight, is pine trees. But it can also contain bits and parts of softwood trees, such as spruces and firs. 

It is available in several shapes and sizes, like nuggets or shreds.

Pine bark mulch is less expensive than many other organic materials. Its light weight makes it incredibly simple to apply, as well.

Pine bark mulch does not break down as quickly as hardwood mulch, but it is still very durable. 

This kind of mulch breaks down into a highly nutritious soil amendment that is especially beneficial for plants that like acidic conditions.

4. Cedar Mulch

Reddish-brown wood fragments from cedar trees make up cedar mulch. The sculptures come in various sizes, and many homeowners find the earthy wood aroma attractive.

The two main advantages of cedar mulch are its visual attractiveness and ability to deter pests.

Cedar mulch is undoubtedly beautiful to look at and smells wonderful. Its reddish-brown colour makes it the ideal backyard accent. Additionally, the scent of woodsy outdoors is lovely.

Moreover, the mulch works wonders at keeping dangerous pests like termites at bay. The scent of cedar mulch drives away insects who can’t endure it.

5. Playground Mulch

This particular type of mulch is made especially to be secure for kids’ play areas, making it special. 

It is made up of pieces of hardwood that have been shredded to a certain size and consistency.

Wood mulch is a superior material for playgrounds than inorganic materials like rubber due to its natural composition. Compared to rubber, organic wood is less harmful to the environment and doesn’t pollute the soil.

Compared to inorganic options, hardwood playground mulch is less expensive and simpler to place. 

6. Red-Colored Mulch

Usually, red-coloured mulch is made of hardwood that has been dyed red to give it a visually arresting appearance. Nevertheless, some red mulch also contains wood fragments of other kinds, such as pallets or furniture with chips in it.

Naturally, the most notable advantage of red mulch is its eye-catching hue. The red creates a striking contrast with the backyard’s organic greenery. 

In addition, the colour usually holds up better than mulch that hasn’t been dyed.

Red-coloured mulch is sometimes associated with environmental concerns due to its tendency to release red dye when it breaks down and decomposes. 

The dye is environmentally friendly, which is fantastic news. In addition, iron oxide is applied to the mulch, which helps the soil break down as the mulch breaks down.

Now that you know the types of wood mulch, it will become easy to understand wood chips vs. mulch.

Types of Organic Mulch

An infographic on the types of organic mulch

From the following types, you can see the difference between wood chips vs. mulch.

1. Green Clippings 

Grass clippings have a high nitrogen content. Use two inches if you’ve just cut; if it’s dry, use four inches.

2. Leaves

The majority of the plant nutrients, such as carbon, potassium, and phosphorus, are still present in them. You can shred them if you’d like them to break down more quickly.

3. Shredded Newspaper 

Newspapers are a great way to keep your plants warm and safe in the winter. Additionally, it works well to keep weeds out of your flower beds. Apply a five to ten sheets thick layer, and top it with a thin layer of pretty mulch to hide it.

4. Pine Straw

 A great deterrent to weeds is made of pine needles or straws. Just make sure the plants you have are suited to acid soil.

Straw improves soil fertility, suppresses weed growth, and retains moisture well. To allow for compression during the one to two seasons that it can survive, add a loose layer about 6 inches thick.

After running through the types of wood chips vs. mulch, let’s see what actually sets them apart.

Wood Chips Vs. Mulch

A circular diagram explaining wood chips vs. mulch

These are the seven factors that differentiate between wood chips vs. mulch.

1. Retention of Water

Wood chips aren’t the best choice for coating the ground to retain water.

Therefore, when it comes to water retention, mulch is a clear winner between wood chips vs. mulch.

Due to mulch’s smoother covering, less ground will be exposed to the sun. The rate at which water evaporates from the ground decreases with decreasing sun exposure and air exposure. 

Using mulch provides better protection for your plant’s roots.

Because of the material’s exceptional capacity to hold moisture, it may encourage conditions where your plants become flooded. 

Mulch’s capacity to hold water is advantageous when you wish to preserve the moisture in your plant’s soil.

2. Elimination of Weeds

A fantastic approach to keep weeds out of your garden is to add wood chips. Tiny weed seeds find it difficult to push up through the wood chips. 

So, most of them are unable to sprout, which reduces the overall number of weeds in the garden.

If you are dealing with pesky weeds, choose wood chips from wood chips vs. mulch.

Moreover, removing any weeds that do manage to poke through the wood chips will be simpler.

For the same reason, it’s crucial to remember not to cover recently sown seeds with wood chips. 

If they are buried in wood chips, they will struggle to germinate and sprout, and your germination rate will be quite low.

3. Visual Appeal 

Though they endure for multiple seasons, coloured wood chips eventually lose their vibrancy. If you want a consistent hue, you must change the top layer of the mulch frequently to keep the appropriate shade.

From wood chips vs. mulch, wood chips have a beautiful appearance that enhances the look of your yard.

If you want to transform the look of your lawn, take a look at these Low-Maintenance Backyard Landscape Ideas.

4. Practicality 

The fourth difference between wood chips vs. mulch is practicality.

If you want a lawn where you can take long walks and sit casually, then choose mulch.

Bare feet don’t feel comfortable on wood chips. For this reason, homeowners might not want to cover the soil’s surface with sharp materials like mulch made of shredded bark or wood chips. 

However, if you want to go with wood chips, don’t spread it where there is footfall. 

5. Handling 

Of all the mulch components, wood chips have the highest carbon concentration. 

Soil organisms need nitrogen to decompose wood chips. This may occasionally bind up nitrogen that is necessary for plant growth. 

Keep an eye out for a general yellowish cast on the leaves of your plants, whether young or old.

If not handled correctly, they can potentially suffocate trees and plants. When describing trees with a mound of mulch up against the trunk. 

This method of mulching around trees and other plants is risky since it may harm the base of the plant or the trunk.

Be careful with the handling of whatever you select between wood chips vs. mulch.

6. Long Lasting 

Wood chips can last up to five years. 

Wood chips are a better option if you’re looking for a cover that will remain in place longer. 

Nevertheless, wood chips have a higher tendency to slide and reveal dirt. 

Furthermore, wood chips may produce poisonous compounds that could damage your plants if left in the same spot for an extended period.

Again, don’t leave your yard unattended after making a choice between wood chips vs. mulch. Both have pros and cons.

7. Requirement for Watering

Wood chips can lessen the frequency of watering your plants because they aid in moisture retention. 

This is important when it’s hot and dry outside. Therefore, it is on our list of wood chips vs. mulch.


Which kind of mulch is best?

Larger pieces of mulch are better. This is due to its slower rate of decomposition. Since organic mulch enhances the degrading soil, it is generally the greatest option.

Can wood chips stop weeds?

Indeed, wood chips suppress most weeds. Some weeds can pass through the wood chip mulch layer, too. They may also spread beneath the wood particles that cover their decaying layer.

Should I get rid of the old mulch?

It breaks down slowly, so there’s no urgency to clear it out. You can add another layer to get the required depth for your plants and garden beds.

Can you make your own wood chip mulch?

Pruning your yard’s trees is sometimes a smart idea to maintain their health and encourage new development. When you do, use the branches to make wood chip mulch instead of discarding them!

Mulch Vs. Wood Chips: Final Verdict

If you have a flowering garden, you can choose organic mulch from wood chips vs. mulch.

On the other hand, for playgrounds or yards with just grass and some artificial ornaments, use wood chips.

Every new material that a youngster is exposed to has the potential to cause allergies. 

Wood chips created correctly for playgrounds must be made from virgin wood or clean wood removed from mature forests. 

No recycled wood should be utilized to prevent impurities like paints, treatment solutions, nails, etc. 

Furthermore, there is very little chance that children will come into contact with the wood chips for longer than a few minutes on their skin.

To get the best mulching services, contact Falcons Landscaping.