wood chips as mulch

Asked September 7, 2015, 6:28 PM EDT

I'm a member of a community garden, and we have pathways which we have covered in wood chips. We have raised beds which we'd like to cover with mulch at the end of the season. I know that some arborists will deliver wood chips for free, but I know that it's likely that some of it will have come from diseased trees. Is it safe to continue to use the chips on our pathways? And on our garden beds? We don't want fungus or other problems in our beds.

Multnomah County Oregon

1 Response

Hi there,

Using wood chips as mulch is a very good option for pathways, and even landscape areas. Wood chips are one of the best performers in terms of moisture retention, temperature moderation, weed control, and sustainability. Most studies indicate that diseased mulch cannot transmit pathogens to the roots of healthy trees or shrubs. Please see this article from WSU Extension about using wood chips as mulch.

However, wood chips probably aren't a very good option for your raised beds as they do not break down very fast. A better option for your raised beds would be leaves, straw or have you thought about using a cover crop? Click here to view a short article from OSU Extension about using cover crops in your raised beds.

I hope this helps,