Tilling Wood Chips Into Soil – Can They Help Develop Soil?

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Last Updated on April 13, 2022 by Cristina

Almost every gardener would want to imbibe a natural way of growing and enhancing the soil naturally is one way to improve soil fertility. Wood is one natural product you can get access to. Tilling wood chips into soil can help improve your soil.

So, if you have access to wood or even wood chips, you can take advantage of it and enjoy the benefit of enhancing your soil naturally. This process is very affordable and wood can help build or develop your soil properly.

Tilling wood chips into soil can be done directly or you can even compost them into the soil or just mulch them. However, in all this, you should also know that there are some downsides to using wood chips in the soil but these downsides can be managed.

So, let’s see if tilling wood chips into the soil are necessary to be used in our soil and see how they are beneficial to our soil.

Tilling Wood Chips Into Soil

The woods used as wood chips are small pieces of wood that usually come from trees which is a renewable source. Wood residue chips come in different forms ranging from sawing residue chips, short rotation forestry, forest chip, and so on.

Now, all these wood chips can be tilled into the soil to improve the soil. There are different benefits to tilling wood chips into the soil and we will be discussing some of the benefits here.

Tilling Wood Chips Into Soil

Does Wood Chip Help Build Or Develop Soil?

Tilling wood chips into the soil can help build or develop your soil in a way. All you need to do is have knowledge of how to use this wood chip correctly and the right type of wood to make use of.

For gardeners and even many of us, it is pretty easy to get access to wood chips. You may even get it free sometimes. So, the ease to which this material can be accessed can be pretty tempting especially to gardeners to make use of this medium to enhance the soil.

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Benefits Of Using Or Tilling Wood Chips Into Soil

If you’re wondering what benefits your soil stands to gain using wood chips, then here are some of them:

  1. When you till wood chips into the soil, it can help the organic content of the soil. The organic content or matter will now be worked on by beneficial insects and earthworms to aid in maintaining a healthy plant.
  2. It can supply some nutrients to the soil during the breakdown process.
  3. Tilling wood chips into soil can help maintain a cooler soil during hot weathers periods.
  4. Soil erosion with pests and diseases can be reduced with the help of wood chips.
  5. Tilling wood chips into soil can help conserve water so you won’t have to do too much irrigation.
  6. The presence of the rooting hormone in the wood chip can release bound phosphorous and this can assist in reducing plant stress and enhance defense and immunity.

Drawbacks Of Using Wood Chips To Develop Soil

Some gardeners have concerns about using wood chips for tilling soil and some have decided against using them for some reasons.

Even though wood chips can offer your soil some good benefits, you should also be aware of some downsides to using them. Some of these downsides include:

1.    Nitrogen Depletion

Once wood breakdown into the soil; nitrogen is assimilated from the surrounding soil during the decomposition process. During this decomposition process, nitrogen tends to bind to the wood. Hence, nitrogen becomes temporarily locked up in the wood.

But take note that this nitrogen depletion is a short-term issue and it usually occurs only when fresh wood chips are used. For this reason, it is advised to only use fresh wood chips as surface mulch. Doing this will ensure that nitrogen depletion only occurs at the surface soil level.

2.    The Type Of Wood Chip

The type of wood chip used to till the soil can seriously tell on the soil. For instance, when you use hardwood, it can take a long process to decompose and can take a while to add any benefit to your soil.

On the other hand, when you use softwood, it tends to decompose faster thereby releasing the required nutrient into the soil faster.

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Tilling Wood Chips Into Soil

Again, if you use a wood chip that has a mixture of hard and softwood trees, you can get an ideal mixture that acts as a long-term slow release of nutrients to improve the soil. So logically, the softwood will break down first then the hardwood will take some time. Then you can get a slow and constant release of nutrients into the soil.

3.    Toxins May Be Found On Some Wood Chips

Toxins may be present in some wood chips that are a result of manmade chemicals. For this reason, it is crucial that you know where the wood chip comes from and what type of wood was used to make the wood chips.

For instance, wood gotten from pallet construction or any kind of shipping package needs to be treated with caution. This is because so many of these woods are treated with chemicals that may be toxic to the soil.

Furthermore, woods that are used for decking should be avoided because they are usually treated with preservatives.

Final Say – Tilling Wood Chips Into Soil

Tilling wood chips into soil can prove helpful. However, you should know the right type of woods to till into your soil so your soil can benefit from it. So, get to know the advantages and disadvantages to till wood chips into your soil.


Are wood chips good for soil?

Yes, using wood chips for your soil is good and they can help improve your soil. Benefits such as improving organic content, conserving water, maintaining a cooler soil during the hot season, and so on can be enjoyed when using wood chips.

Can I put topsoil over wood chips?

It is fin to put some topsoil over the wood chips especially if the wood chip mulch is not too thick. But if it is too thick, it may not be ideal to add topsoil because it may tap air.

How long should wood chips sit before putting on garden?

The ideal duration for wood chips to sit before putting them into your garden should be around 6 to 12 months. Then after this duration, you can mulch or amend the soil with the wood chips.

Do wood chips acidify soil?

If you have concerns about wood chip acidifying soil, it should please you to know that no evidence has been shown that they affect the soil PH.

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