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Woodchips and landscaping bark mulch can provide a decorative and weed free surface within a any garden.
It can be used to mulch flower borders as well as surfacing paths and play areas. However, wood chippings and bark mulch are not to everyone’s liking and do have some considerable drawbacks.
The chippings themselves can degrade over time leading to costly and laborious re-spreading.
Bark chippings can also be a bi product from recent tree removal or tree stump-grinding. Perhaps you have recently moved into a new property with a garden full of old bark.
In such cases you may wish to get rid of the bark from your garden as soon as you can. Here I will explain the best way to get rid of garden wood chips as well as some alternative uses for them.
Why do people put woodchips in their garden?
People spread wood chips and bark mulch to suppress weeds and help soil retain moisture during summer.
Woodchip provides organic mulch which can also provide frost protection for tender outdoor perennials.
A thick layer of wood chip on top of a weed suppressant fabric can also provide low maintenance borders, play areas and even seating areas.
Do weeds grow through wood chips?
If you have installed a robust weed resistant membrane and a reasonable depth of wood chips weeds should not become established.
Only strong and woody perennial weeds such as brambles can grow up through weed membrane and bark.
If perennial weeds are dug out before bark much is laid this should not be a problem. It is more common for herbaceous weeds to germinate within the moist gaps between bark particles.
How to stop weeds growing in and through bark mulch and wood chip?
Over time bark mulch and wood chip will naturally decay. This provides woody compost for weeds to start establishing during wet periods.
The best way to avoid this is spread a 30-50mm layer of coarse or sharp sand under a robust, weed membrane.
Then supply and spread a minimum depth of 50mm of bark chip to the surface.
The sand will provide a free drainage layer helping to keep the bark dry.
This will limit the ability for fungus and microorganisms to break down the mulch. The membrane will also add an extra barrier to soil decomposers and weed roots.
Do cats poop in bark chip?
Contrary to common belief cats prefer not to pop in bark mulch. Cats like to poop and spray in soft and loose material such as soil, sand and compost. However if these are not readily available cats may use degraded woodchip.
How to get rid of woodchips from your garden?
The best way to get rid of bark and wood chips from your garden is with a landscaping rake, long handled shovel and wheelbarrow.
The rake can be used to draw up the mulch into piles while the shovel can scoop up the loose material and load the barrow.
If woodchip is spread upon a membrane, this can be pulled up to form large piles of bark. Your barrow can then wheel them to another location or inside a skip.
Before you order a skip try to figure out how many cubic metres of bark you have.
This can be done by multiplying the average depth by the surface area.
For example, if you had a bark area of 10m x 10m that would equal 100 square metres. If the average depth of bark is 40mm the calculation would be.
100 x 0.040 = 4 cubic metres.
This means you would have about 4 cubic metres of bark mulch to get rid of. That’s about 45 wheelbarrows, 8 jumbo bags and enough to fill a 6-yard skip.
When completing the calculation above you must remember to get the decimal point in the correct place!
What can I use pine bark or wood chips for?
If you want to get rid of wood chip but don’t want to get a skip here are some ideas. Below I have listed some alternative uses for unwanted wood chip.
Probably the most obvious use for unwanted bark is to suppress weeds. If you are removing an extensive area of wood chippings these can be used to mulch flower borders.
These will eventually rot down over time and help improve your soil.
An effective way to get rid of wood chips is to compost them. This can be done by simply pilling them up in a heap until they break down.
To fasten up the process of composting mix them up with nitrogen rich organic waste. This includes green materials such as grass clippings and kitchen, vegetable waste.
This will create a warm and steaming compost heap which will break down into compost quickly.
Believe it or not wood chips can be used to grow mushrooms. The best mushrooms to grow outside on wood chips are wine cap mushrooms.
Ideally your wood chips would be made up of deciduous trees such as oak and birch. However there are many types of edible mushroom crops which can be grown on wood chip.
You will need to buy mushroom spawn from a specialist supplier such as Merit Mushrooms.
If the woodchips are in good condition, they can be dried and used in smokers. However most of the time landscape wood chip will be too degraded to cook food.
Wood chip is a naturally occurring, organic, material. This means it will decompose over time to form good quality compost and topsoil.
By mixing old landscaping bark into your topsoil, it will improve both drainage and fertility. Over time breaking down wood chip will feed soil ecosystems and lead to healthier and more productive soil.
Thank you for reading our article on how to get rid of wood chips from your garden. Below we have linked to some of our other articles you may find useful. Thank you!
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Raised beds are a fantastic way to provide spacious growing areas for plants and vegetables.
Building robust, garden planters also allow you to choose a more generous and better-quality soil. This is particularly advantageous if your site has shallow, boggy or poor topsoil.
But what is the best soil for raised beds? The truth is there is no “one size fits all” soil type for filling raised beds. The best soil for filling raised beds will be moisture retentive but well drained and rich in Phosphorous, Potassium and nitrogen.
However the optimum soil mix will depend upon, the height of your planters, existing soil type, site hydrology and local climate.
Before you get worried it’s really very simple! In this article I will explain the best soil for raised garden beds in every scenario.
Most plants and vegetables like moist but well drained topsoil. Therefore, the best soil for raised beds will drain well.
However, soil which is too free draining can dry out very quickly in summer and leach nutrients quickly.
Therefore, the best raised bed soil will have both free draining and moisture retentive particles.
This is why typically the best soil type is a clay loam with some sharp sand particles.
If your locality naturally has very boggy soil prone to flooding raised bed soil needs to be more free draining. This will mean more sharp sand, grit, organic matter and less clay.
In such circumstances raised beds should also be built higher.
What is the best height for a raised bed?
There are many reasons why you may want your raised beds at a particular height.
Firstly, raised beds are generally integrated into a garden design and may have a more spatial or aesthetic function.
For example, raised beds of around 600 high can also provide good seating especially for small spaces.
However, in regard to soil, the height of your bed should reflect your existing soil type and site conditions.
If you have naturally free draining soil and a climate with little rainfall beds will dry out easily.
Therefore, free draining topsoil with more clay articles should be added to raised beds at a lower height. At the other extreme areas with boggy soils and higher seasonal rainfall can be built much higher.
Of course, what you grow in your beds will also have an impact. If you have an alpine or succulent raised bed, you will want the topsoil as free draining as possible.
If you want to grow record breaking carrots, tall beds filled with a sandy loam will be better.
Is clay soil good for raised beds?
Clay soil is good for raised beds if it is used in the lower half of a tall, raised bed.
Here it can help to retain moisture and nutrients for better topsoil above. If clay soil is well mixed with sand and organic matter it can become perfect for raised beds.
It is well known among many horticulturalists that a clay loam is the best soil for raised beds.
What is the best soil for raised beds?
The best soil for raised beds is a free draining but moisture retentive, fertile, clay loam.
It should be rich in the three essential nutrients for plants: potassium, phosphate and nitrogen with a crumbly texture.
However the fertility level, PH and free draining qualities will depend upon what you wish to grow and your specific region.
What to add to raised garden bed soil?
If the soil in your raised bed regularly dries out, you should mix in some clay, topsoil, loam and organic matter. This will help to absorb and retain more moisture.
If your soil is often boggy and stagnant you should mix in plenty of sand, grit and organic matter. This will create more air spaces for water to pass through.
In such a scenario you may also want to create more drainage holes and raise the beds height.
Can you fill a raised bed with just compost?
It is ok to fill a raised bed with just compost especially on top of boggy, clay, subsoil.
However a tall, raised bed just filled with compost will probably dry out too much during the summer.
If you are going to fill a raised bed with compost fill half of it first with a clay-based topsoil.
What is the best time of year to fill raised garden beds?
You can fill raised beds at any time of year but filling during the spring and summer may hinder your growing season.
However filling beds during the winter can be messy, especially if you have to track wheelbarrows across lawn.
During wet winters dirty wheelbarrow wheels can grind dirt deeply into patios and paths. This will normally require pressure washing to clean.
I find the best time to fill raised beds is late summer and early autumn while the weather is still warm.
This results in less chance of mess and boggy conditions while not interrupting your growing season.
It is also advantageous to fill soil before frost and allow soil to settle before the next growing season.
Do you have to put plastic inside raised garden beds?
Many decide the wish to line the inside of a timber raised bed with plastic. This is because a theory has developed that this will prevent wet soil degrading the timber.
Such a strategy is commonly implemented in beds with thinner walls. However, lining beds with plastic is not a good solution.
Plastic can limit a beds ability to drain leading to stagnant and boggy soil.
Furthermore, water will normally sit within the vacuum of where the plastic meets the timber.
This can lead to excessive moisture around fixtures causing corrosion. The best solution for building timber raised beds is using robust materials.
Thick timber sleepers are the best as they take many years to degrade. The edges and timber joins also allow excess moisture to seep out greatly improving drainage.
Should you add drainage holes to your raised beds?
If your raised bed is in contact with the surrounding soil and is naturally free draining, you do not have to have drainage holes.
Timber sleepers naturally drain through the gaps and joins of the timber work.
However it is always advised to add drainage holes especially if you are building with masonry materials like brick and concrete.
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Frogs are one of the most successful species on the planet exploiting every continent except Antarctica. Their evolutionary and winning design has remained unchanged for many millions of years.
Even with extensive deforestation and urban development frogs still eke out a living in our towns and gardens.
Frogs, although beneficial to gardeners can still become victims to garden machinery and chemicals. With modern gardens potentially so dangerous to frogs it is a wonder they exist at all!
However, a surge in enthusiasm for wildlife gardening is making frog friendly gardening and landscaping a growing trend.
After wildlife ponds, frog homes or 'frog caves' are a great way to create frog habitat. Frog homes create great places for frogs to rest, hibernate and hide from predators.
In this article I will explain how to build a frog home for your wildlife garden project. I will include pictures of frog homes I have personally built when creating frog habitats in wildlife gardens.
Why build a frog home?
Frogs are one of the most beneficial creatures for garden lovers and consume most garden pests.
These amphibians come out at night devouring slugs and plant eating insects and invertebrates. Frogs are also an indicator species of a clean and healthy environment.
As frogs have skin which absorbs water, they are extremely sensitive to pollution and toxins. Therefore, making viable frog habitats for them to thrive is holistically very favourable. Frogs need safe places to rest during the day, hibernate and hide from predators.
A frog home or 'frog cave' will provide the perfect, safe, place for them to hide away from harm.
Where should you put a frog home?
As frogs regularly visit ponds to feed and breed wetland habitats are preferred places to locate frog homes. However, it is important to recognise that most of a frog’s time is spent out of water.
Therefore, the best places for frog homes are within dense vegetation and damp places near local ponds.
The best scenario for frogs is to have a series of safe caves and dens around their foraging range.
This will enable them to cover larger areas to feed at night and rest during the day. For larger wildlife garden designs amphibian homes can be situated along green corridors.
What is the best habitat for a frog?
Most frogs species which live within Europe and North America are extremely adaptable and widespread. However, the best frog habitats are low lying naturalistic areas with dense vegetation.
These will be dispersed with wetland habitats, meadows, scrubland and woodland. Frogs need boggy wetlands to breed and feed as well as dense and diverse plant communities to hide.
Generally suburban gardens are bountiful places for frogs as they provide a good mixture of habitat types.
Can I create a frog home in a pond?
Yes, you can create a frog home submerged inside a pond or at the water’s edge. However, you may not be able to guarantee a frog will spend much time inside it.
Frogs generally rest and hibernate outside of water however they will also hide submerged under the surface.
Frogs love to seek out hidden nooks and crannies underwater so they can hide from predators and ambush prey. An easy way to create a frog home in a pond is with bricks and paving slabs.
In the image below we built such a pond, frog home, on one of our wildlife garden projects.
How to build a perfect frog home in your garden
An effective frog home should be robust, naturalistic and damp. You will want to build your frog home in a way which blends in with its natural surroundings.
Furthermore, your frog cave should be impenetrable to predators such as foxes and cats. The best frog homes will also be well insulated from frost and sub-zero temperatures during the winter.
This will allow them to also become perfect places for frogs to hibernate!
An effective way to build such a home is with strong masonry materials mortared together and covered with soil. Materials such as old bricks and slabs can form perfect frog caves inside landform near ponds. These will provide the perfect warm, humid and safe places for frogs to live.
A good strategy is to save excavated soil from digging a wildlife pond to create a feature mound. This can then be excavated into to build a sealed cavity with an access tube. Soil can then be piled back around the home to provide a well-insulated and safe frog home.
It is always optimum to build a frog house close to a wildlife pond. In the example below we built a raised pond with a meadow access slope to the pond. We constructed a frog home underneath the mound with a clay pipe access tube to the meadow below.
5 frog homes you can buy online
1. Wildlife world ceramic frog and toad house