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Well Managed Wood Chip Benefits Garden

This article was first published on 13 Sep 2017.

Mulching is one of the most important things you can do in the garden, saving time as a weed suppressant and holding summer moisture.

At Dunedin Botanic Garden, in the quest to find more environmentally friendly solutions to waste management, we have recently been trialling wood chipped from on-site operations. Any woody material removed through shrub and tree pruning or storm damage is chipped, resulting in a pile of usable woody and leaf material. Results have generally been very positive.

Applying fresh wood chip can normally result in nutrients being removed from the soil in the decomposition process, making it inadvisable to use in new or nutrient-poor areas without additional nutrients being added. However, because Botanic Garden borders are rich in nutrients from previous applications of mulch, reasonably fresh chip can be used.

At home wood chip is a cheap option and when composted first for six months before applying, makes beautiful organic mulch. It is advisable to monitor plant health after applying, looking for signs of nutrient deficiency and correcting as required. One drawback we have found is that chipping material that is laden with seed, in our case Pittosporum tenuifolium, can result in hundreds of small seedlings appearing.

Garden Life is produced by Dunedin Botanic Garden. For further information contact Dylan Norfield.