The wood or bark chips piled over bare soil are both decorative and practical elements in the landscape. Landscape wood chips help reduce weed seed germination as well as slow water evaporation from the soil. They also protect shallow tree, shrub, flower and vegetable roots from damage by marauding pets, children and wildlife. If your landscape faces high winds that carry the chips away from their original site, you have several options that will keep those landscape wood chips from blowing away.
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About Landscape Chips
Landscape chips — called mulch by most gardeners — that are used in the landscape are generally organic matter, such as wood, bark or coconut husk chips. You can also use mulches such as bark chunks; shredded wood or bark; straw, buckwheat or rice hulls; pine needles; or sawdust. If budget is an issue, layers of newspaper laid over the bare soil and then covered with decorative landscape chips provide the same benefits as any other mulch.
Wet It Down
Whether you are using wood, bark or coconut husk chips as mulch in the landscape and garden, the simplest way to keep them in place is to get them wet. Rake the chips evenly over the soil in a 1- to 3-inch layer and water thoroughly with a spray nozzle. When high winds are in the forecast, put the sprinklers out and get the chips good and wet so they settle into the soil and become less likely to blow away.
Cover With Netting
Organic mulch, whether chips, straw or other material, can be covered with natural jute netting or polypropylene plastic netting. You can also use netting to hold mulch on slopes. Rake the mulch over the soil and around the plants. Pull the mulch 3 to 6 inches away from the stems of the plants before installing the netting.
Spread the netting over the chips or mulch. Trim or cut it as needed around trees, shrubs and plants before anchoring it with landscape fabric staples. A border of river rocks, bricks or landscape edging placed around the perimeter of the garden bed or walkway holds the edges of the netting in place. The netting will hold the chips in place when strong winds blow.
Spray With Tackifier
Spraying the landscape chips with a tackifier or mulch glue product is also an option. There are a number of products that "glue" the chips together while allowing water to flow through to the soil. These products are also used to tack down seeds and straw or other loose coverings when seeding large areas.
The tackifier products are available in both powder and liquid forms. When spreading tackifier powder, put on safety goggles, a dust mask and gloves to protect your eyes, lungs and hands. Put the powder in a drop spreader and roll it over the chips. Alternatively, mix it with water according to the package directions and apply it as a wet slurry.
When applying liquid products, do not dilute them. Use a garden sprayer or commercial sprayer with a fan tip to apply a generous amount of the liquid over the mulch. Allow it to dry completely for 24 to 48 hours before allowing children and pets to access the landscape. Be sure to put on protective gear, including gloves and safety goggles, before pouring it into a sprayer and applying it to the chips.
Ruth de Jauregui is the author of 50 Fabulous Tomatoes for Your Garden. She writes numerous home and garden articles for a variety of online publications. She got her start as a book and cover designer in San Francisco for William (Bill) Yenne at American Graphic Systems. In addition to designing books, she wrote her first book, Ghost Towns. With several nonfiction books under her belt, de Jauregui recently published her first novel, Bitter.