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Bark Mulch vs. Wood Chips: Identifying the Key Differences

Dr Ahsanur Rahman, PHD

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There are a lot of benefits that come with using wood chips for your landscaping needs. For one, they are an excellent source of nutrients for your plants and help to improve drainage in your soil. They also work well as mulch to protect your plants from the harsh effects of the sun and wind.

However, you should be aware of some drawbacks to using wood chips before making a decision.

There are a few key differences between bark mulch and wood chips. For one, bark mulch is typically made from tree bark, while wood chips can be made from various materials, including tree bark, sawdust, and even recycled newspapers. Bark mulch is also usually finer and more uniform in texture than wood chips.

Bark mulch has a number of benefits for your garden. It helps to suppress weeds, retains moisture in the soil, and keeps your plants’ roots cool in summer weather. Bark mulch also breaks down slowly over time, adding valuable nutrients to the soil as it does so.

Wood chips have some different benefits than bark mulch. They tend to break down faster than bark mulch, making them ideal for use as a temporary ground cover or weed blocker. Wood chips also add bulk to the soil, which can help improve drainage and aeration.

And like bark mulch, wood chips will eventually break down and add nutrients to the soil.

What Lasts Longer Bark Or Wood Chips?

Bark and wood chips are made from trees, so it stands to reason that they would break down at about the same rate, right? Well, not necessarily. It turns out that bark lasts significantly longer than wood chips when used as mulch.

Here’s why:

Bark is more resistant to decomposition than wood chips because it has a higher lignin content. Lignin is a natural polymer that gives plants their rigidity and strength. It’s also what makes bark darker in color than wood chips.

This extra lignin makes bark slower to break down and therefore last longer as mulch. So, if you’re looking for mulch that will last longer and give your garden beds a neat, finished look, go with bark.

Are Bark Chips Better Than Mulch?

When it comes to landscaping, there are a variety of different options available for ground cover. Two of the most popular choices are bark chips and mulch. But which one is better?

Bark chips are made from tree bark that has been shredded or chipped into small pieces. They offer several benefits, including:

  • Weed suppression: Bark chips can help prevent weeds from growing in your garden beds by creating a barrier between the soil and the sunlight.
  • Moisture retention: Bark chips help to keep the soil moist by trapping water and preventing evaporation. This is especially beneficial during hot, dry summer months.
  • Aesthetics: Bark chips can give your garden beds a tidy, finished look.

They come in various colors (including red, brown, and black), so you can find an option that compliments your landscape design. Mulch is another popular choice for ground cover. It’s made from organic materials (such as leaves, grass clippings, or wood chips) that have been composted into thick matting.

Mulch offers many of the same benefits as bark chips, including weed suppression and moisture retention. However, it also has a few unique advantages, such as:

  • Nutrient enrichment: As the mulch decomposes, it releases nutrients into the soil, benefiting plants’ roots.

Is Bark Mulch the Same As Wood Chips?

Bark mulch and wood chips are two very different things. Bark mulch is made from the bark of trees and shrubs and covers the ground around plants. It helps to retain moisture in the soil, prevent erosion, and keep weeds down.

Wood chips, on the other hand, are made from whole trees that have been chipped into small pieces. They can be used for various purposes, including landscaping, playgrounds, and garden paths.

What is the Difference between Mulch And Woodchips?

Mulch and woodchips are both products that can be used in landscaping to improve the appearance of your yard and help protect your plants. Both mulch and woodchips are made from organic materials, but there are some key differences between the two. Mulch is usually finer than woodchips, making it more appropriate for use around delicate plants.

Mulch also breaks down more quickly than woodchips, providing nutrients to the soil as it does so. Woodchips, on the other hand, last longer and can be a good choice for areas where you need ground cover or erosion control.

Which is better for your yard – wood chips or mulch?

Mulch vs. Wood Chips Cost

Mulch and wood chips are both popular choices for landscaping projects. But which one is right for your project? Here’s a comparison of mulch vs wood chips to help you decide.

Mulch is typically made from organic materials like bark or leaves. It protects plants and soil from erosion, temperature extremes, and weed growth. Mulch can also improve the appearance of your landscape by adding color and texture.

Wood chips are usually made from tree limbs or other types of wood waste. They’re often used as a ground cover or in garden paths. Wood chips can also be used to mulch around trees and shrubs.

Like mulch, wood chips help protect plants and soil, control weeds, and regulate soil temperature.

Cost of Wood Chips

Wood chips are a type of biomass, which is organic matter that can be used to produce energy. Biomass can be used to generate electricity or heat, and wood chips are one of the most common types of biomass fuel. Wood chips have a high energy density and they burn relatively cleanly.

However, they do release some pollutants into the atmosphere, including carbon dioxide and particulate matter. The cost of wood chips varies depending on the source and quality of the material. For example, sawdust from lumber mills is often used as fuel for boilers or kilns, and it typically costs less than wood chips that are specifically grown for fuel purposes.

Wood Chip Mulch Pros And Cons

Wood chip mulch is a type of mulch that is made from shredded wood chips and is used in landscaping and gardening to retain moisture, suppress weeds, and regulate soil temperature. It is a popular choice for gardeners and landscapers because it is relatively inexpensive and easy to apply.

Mulching is a great way to protect your plants and soil during the hot summer months. Wood chip mulch is one type of mulch that you can use. Knowing the pros and cons of wood chip mulch is important before you decide to use it in your garden.

Wood chip mulch has a number of benefits. It helps to keep the soil moist by preventing evaporation. It also keeps weeds from growing by blocking out the sun.

And it adds nutrients to the soil as it breaks down over time. There are some drawbacks to using wood chip mulch, too. It can be difficult to remove once it’s been applied, so it’s not ideal for frequently replanted gardens.

However, like any type of mulch, wood chip mulch has its pros and cons.


  1. Moisture retention: Wood chip mulch is effective at retaining moisture in the soil, which can be beneficial for plants that require consistent watering. It helps to prevent evaporation and can reduce the frequency of watering required.
  2. Weed suppression: Wood chip mulch can help to suppress weeds by blocking light and preventing weed seeds from germinating. This can save gardeners time and effort spent on weeding.
  3. Soil temperature regulation: Wood chip mulch can help to regulate soil temperature by insulating the soil and preventing extreme temperature fluctuations. This can be beneficial for plants that are sensitive to temperature changes.
  4. Aesthetically pleasing: Wood chip mulch can add a natural look to a garden or landscape and can complement a wide range of plant species. It is available in a variety of colors and can be used to create a cohesive look in a garden or landscape.


  1. Initial cost: While wood chip mulch is generally inexpensive, the initial cost of purchasing and applying it can be relatively high, especially if you have a large area to cover.
  2. Decay: Wood chip mulch will eventually decompose and will need to be replaced. This can be a time-consuming and costly process, depending on the size of the area being mulched.
  3. Insects: Wood chip mulch can attract insects, including termites and carpenter ants, which can be a problem if they infest the wood chips or your home.
  4. Chemical residues: Wood chip mulch can potentially contain chemical residues from the wood it was made from, such as pesticides or herbicides. This can be a concern for those who want to use organic mulch or for those who are sensitive to chemicals.

Mulch Vs Wood Chips for Playground

When it comes to playgrounds, there are a variety of different materials that can be used for mulch. Two of the most popular options are wood chips and playground mulch. So, which one is the best option for your playground?

Here’s a look at the pros and cons of each type of mulch to help you make the best decision for your play area.

Wood Chips Pros:

Wood chips are affordable for mulching a playground.

They also offer good drainage and don’t compact as much as other types of mulch, so they’re ideal for areas that receive a lot of foot traffic.


Wood chips can be messy, and they can also attract bugs and other pests. If you choose this type of mulch, inspect it regularly to ensure there aren’t any unwanted critters hanging out in your play area.

Playground Mulch Pros:

Playground mulch is made from recycled tires, making it eco-friendly. It’s also very soft, making it a comfortable surface for kids to play on.

And since it doesn’t attract bugs or other pests, you won’t have to worry about those pesky critters invading your play space.


One downside of playground mulch is that it can get hot in direct sunlight, so it might not be the best choice for areas that get a lot of sun exposure.

Pine Bark Vs Wood Chips

When it comes to mulch, there are many different types that you can choose from. Two of the most popular options are pine bark and wood chips. So, which is the better choice for your garden?

Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of each type of mulch to help you decide. Pine Bark Mulch Pine bark mulch is made from the bark of pine trees.

It’s a popular choice for gardens because it looks attractive and it’s also good at suppressing weeds. Pine bark mulch also breaks down slowly, so it lasts longer than other types of mulch. One downside of pine bark mulch is that it can be more expensive than other options.

It can also be difficult to find in some areas. Another thing to remember is that pine bark mulch can be acidic, so it’s not a good choice if you have plants that prefer alkaline soil. Wood Chip Mulch

Wood chip mulch is made from, you guessed it, wood chips! It’s a cheap and cheerful option that does a great job at suppressing weeds and keeping moisture in the soil. Wood chip mulch also breaks down relatively slowly, so it lasts longer than other mulches such as straw or leaves.

Arborist Wood Chips Vs. Mulch

Arborist wood chips and mulch are two popular options for landscaping. Both have their pros and cons, so it’s important to choose the right one for your needs. Arborist wood chips are a great option for covering large areas quickly.

They’re also relatively cheap and easy to find. However, they can be messy and difficult to spread evenly. They also don’t last as long as mulch, so you’ll need to replenish them more often.

Mulch is another popular option for landscaping. It’s made from organic materials like bark or leaves, and it’s available in a variety of colors. Mulch is easier to spread than wood chips, and it lasts longer too.

However, it can be more expensive than wood chips, and it doesn’t always look as good initially.

Wood Chips Or Mulch for Dogs

Wood chips or mulch can be used for dogs in many different ways. Some people use them as a form of bedding, while others use them to create a natural playground or even an obstacle course. No matter how you choose to use them, wood chips and mulch can benefit your dog.

One of the biggest benefits of using wood chips or mulch is that it is much more comfortable for your dog than concrete. If your dog spends any time outside, chances are they will spend some time lying on the ground. Hard surfaces like concrete can be uncomfortable for dogs and may even cause joint pain over time.

Soft surfaces like wood chips or mulch are much more comfortable and won’t put any extra strain on your dog’s joints. Another benefit of using wood chips or mulch is that they can help keep your yard clean. If you have a lot of trees in your yard, you know that leaves and other debris can quickly make a mess.

By covering the ground with wood chips or mulch, you can help prevent this from happening. The soft surface also traps any pet waste, making it easy to clean up later. If you’re looking for a way to make your yard more fun for your dog, consider using wood chips or mulch.

They provide many benefits that both you and your pup will enjoy!


Bark mulch is made from the bark of trees and shrubs, while wood chips are made from tree branches, twigs, and leaves. Bark mulch is darker in color and has a finer texture than wood chips. It also breaks down more slowly, making it ideal for long-term use in gardens.

Bark mulch is also more expensive than wood chips.

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