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Putting in slate chippings

I’m thinking of covering all my flower beds in the garden with slate chipping, is there particular time of the year when it’s better to do that? Or it doesn’t matter ?


  • JennyJJennyJ DoncasterPosts: 7,431
    Any time when the soil is thoroughly damp, then it will help to retain the moisture. Check well below the surface though. It can look good and wet after a day's rain but still be dry below the top few inches.
  • Blue OnionBlue Onion Posts: 2,918
    How a think about how you plan to get organic materials (fallen leaves, seed heads, etc) from out of the rock chips.  Also, realize you can no longer improve the soil with mulch or compost, etc.  I bought a house with many areas covered in rocks with trees and bushes planted through, and it's a PIA.  

    Personally, I would recommend bark mulch.  Easy to rake back to improve soil and weed, and gradually breaks down into the soil.  There are many types of bark mulch beyond that painted black or brown colored stuff.  
    Utah, USA.
  • purplerallimpurplerallim LincolnshirePosts: 4,574
    You need to put down a heavy duty cover first before the slate, or it doesn't work. That is best done when everything has died back, but you need to know where to put holes for established plants to come through.
  • I wouldn't if you want those hydrangeas to thrive. They are already going to struggle, in a small space, with rain shadow from fence and wall, and they will need every drop of rain they can get.
    You will also need to be able to check the soil easily to see whether they may need additional watering.
    Weed membrane and slate chippings will make things harder for all of you.
  • So  here are the pics of my garden; as you can see i do have an issue of pine needles from a massive pine tree, particularly this time of the year; so despite the fact that one gardener who came in said I should be putting in slate everywhere to make it look nicer, i then was thinking, what will happen with the pine needles. What would you recommend in this case, should i be covering the ground with anything at all, like bark? i do want the garden to look neater

  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 48,014
    I'd use bark for the hydrangeas, but I wouldn't use it round any flimsy perennials if you have them. Better just with compost for them as a mulch. Bark will sit and be wet against emerging stems, which isn't great for those. Anything sturdier and woodier would be fine. If it's mixed borders, compost is the best solution. 
    I certainly wouldn't use slate, for the reasons given. 
    I'd agree with @Buttercupdays - they [hydrangeas] are going to struggle in those wee borders, so they'll need help.
    Anything in the area under/near the pine will be drier anyway, unless you live in a very wet area, and even then, you need appropriate planting. 
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

  • LoxleyLoxley NottinghamPosts: 4,895
    edited September 2020
    Yeah go for a bark mulch. Don't go for the cheapest wood chip mulches if appearance is a big consideration... they look too light in colour and a bit scruffy. I have never heard of any issue with perennials having a problem with bark mulches. I wouldn't pile mulch deeply against the stems of perennials, but you can mulch over the top of dormant plants and they'll push through it just fine. 
  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 48,014
    I should have explained that better. Bark is a lovely hiding place for slugs and snails, which are just waiting for nice soft, juicy growth of new perennials to come through.
    If you're in a wet area, it does tend to sit wet, on emerging crowns too, which is best avoided. Round woodier perennials, it's not really a problem, as I said. Bulbs are ok too.

    I expect in a drier part of the country, it would be fine, as long as it's well away from stems. Not so good here, so I always like to err on the cautious side  ;)
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

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