Asked May 8, 2016, 10:17 PM EDT

Our church, Southminster Presbyterian in Beaverton, is planning to cover bare soil , chemically maintained tree areas with mulch. What is the best mulch material for this in terms of natural value and appearance? I think wood chips are a bad choice, bark chips might be slightly better, and garden waste would take more maintenance.

Washington County Oregon

3 Responses

Hello! Thanks for your question. As far as aesthetics, it's really a personal preference. Wood chips look more natural, especially as they break down, than
bark dust. Wood chips can be acquired through companies such as ASPLUND
for free. There is usually a waiting list, however. Pine needs are another natural looking option. If you choose to go with bark dust, be sure to ask which one gives
fewer slivers if children are going to be playing in that area. Garden waste/ compost would definitely be the most expensive.

When applying the mulch, spread it at least 3 inches deep to keep weeds from coming up.
Thanks again!
Trina S.

As a wildlife ecologist, I'm aware that different ground treatments provide different natural benefits. The site's current bare ground maintained with herbicides has quite low benefits and a site with trees, shrubs and forbs would have quite high benefits and can look good. It would seem that a wood chips ground cover may be somewhat better than the current bare soil but does not look much better to either me, the neighbors or the butterflies. If our eventual goal is to be more natural and attractive, what's the best mulch choices a this time?

Good morning, Again, because aesthetics is a personal preference, it would be
best to check out local mulch suppliers. Their websites have pictures of what
the different mulches look like. Any of these will work. It's a matter of preference.
While we do not endorse any companies, I would check out

I hope this helps,
Trina S.