Should We Till Wood Chips Into Soil Before Planting?

Asked August 10, 2017, 3:06 PM EDT

Our homeowner association attempted to deal with drought by spreading a 4 inch layer of wood chips on top of eight acres of soil. Now, four years later, we are contemplating tilling the wood chips into the top few inches of soil before enhancing the landscape with additional drought tolerant plants. This is coastal Southern California and the wood chips have not yet decayed much. Will tilling the chips into the soil cause plant nutrition problems? Are there other soil amendments which should be tilled into the soil with the wood chips? Is leaving the chip on top preferred?

San Diego County California

1 Response

Thank you for your question about your association's property. Unfortunately, I cannot answer this question for you. The Ask an Expert system, although accessed through the Extension services, is not supported by the California Extension. Therefore, no Extension office staff, University faculty, or Master Gardener volunteers receive the questions posed by California residents. So they get sent out to participants in other states.

In Oregon, we volunteers are not allowed to provide advice to other than home gardeners, which rules out homeowner associations, farms and nurseries. Those entities' questions must be referred to local agents. I would suggest you call the San Diego County Extension office at (858) 822-7711 to see to whom they can refer your inquiry.

I am sorry for the delay, and hope you obtain the advise you are seeking. Good luck!