Wood Chips vs Mulch
Wood chips (or woodchips) are a type of mulch. Specifically 'arborist wood chips' like the kind we offer through ChipDrop, are fresh off the trees, usually that same day. When they show up they'll have the smell of whatever tree that was chipped, which is often very pleasant! (If it smells like Cherry Coke it might be chips from a Laurel Tree!) There will be a lot of moisture in the pile, and it will be warm and steaming. The temperature in the pile can get surprisingly warm, up to 140F!
Mulch is any top layer that you add over top of your soil. You may see many different kinds of mulch in the store, including bark mulch, cedar mulch, and even rubber mulch. They're all mulches. The primary difference is that these wood chips are unprocessed, undyed, and fresh off the tree. Mulches that you buy in the store go through a lot of processing to make them uniform in size and color. Not all of the processing is bad, but most of it does remove the beneficial qualities that would otherwise help your soil.
Where do wood chips come from?
ChipDrop delivers fresh wood chips that come directly from trees and tree prunings that have been chipped by one of your local tree companies. Arborists who work for tree companies are similar to landscapers, but they're trained and specialized at working in and around tall trees safely. Tree companies create this material as a biproduct of their work. The chippers they use to grind up the tree branches also end up making a perfect mulch!
Using fresh cut wood chips as a mulch is great for so many reasons. They work better than processed and dyed mulches because the important nutrients that help your plants and soil haven't been stripped away and replaced with chemicals. Your plants will be happy, trust us.
What can I do with wood chips?
Even if you have a small yard, there are so many uses for wood chips. The most common uses are mulching along pathways, around flower beds and in parking strips (the spot between the street and the sidewalk). Folks in drier climates often use them as an alternative to lawns, and some cities even offer incentives for replacing your lawn with something more drought tollerant, like wood chip mulch.
After you lay them in your yard, they'll decompose and interact with the soil below in a way that is EXTREMELY beneficial to just about every living organism, including your ornamental plants (but not to the weeds that are suppressed below the mulch, believe it or not!)
If you're a gardening nerd like us, you probably already know the benefits of using this stuff in your garden beds. Keep in mind there are a few tips you need to follow to make sure you don't actually damage your crops. Check out this great video to learn how to garden with wood chips.
Another great use for wood chips is mulching around trees in your yard. Again, just be sure to follow a few best practices. This Old House has a great video explaining how to mulch around trees.