The Q&A Archives: Wood chips as ground cover

Question: We have a corner lot 47 x 70. On two sides, totaling 750SF we need to place a ground cover to eliminate weeding. Typically, homes in the area use black blankets with a stone covering 3"+/-. Will a corner area on a barrier island near the ocean be suitable for wood chips as a ground cover instead of the more usual but cost prohibitive stones? Budget is a major consideration, we have access to a free unlimited supply of wood chips from the town recycling center, but we need to know the pros and cons of substituting the chips for the black plastic cover/ stone combination ( the surefire solution ). There are no plantings in this area.<br> <br>Two of our concerns are bugs throughout the ground cover and TERMITES.<br>

Answer: The area you describe would lend itself nicely to a wood chip ground cover. The wood chips will have to be replaced every few years (or simply topped off with fresh wood chips), where stones are a bit more permanent. There are a number of living groundcovers that you can plant after placing the wood chips down, that will grow over the wood chips and eventually hide them. If it's a sunny area, Hypericum (St.John's Wort), Aubrieta, or prostrate Veronica would do well. If it's shady, try Vinca Minor or Saxifraga. <br><br>To block weeds effectively, you can either use the black landscape fabric under the chips, covering it with a 2 or 3 inch layer, or use a 6 or 7 inch layer of straight wood chips. I'm not aware of any problem with termites and wood chips--you might avoid piling the chips deep against your house foundation. And they shouldn't attract any other bugs to your yard.

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