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Bark or woodchip?

Can't decide which to order, both are the same price.

I'm guessing this boils down to aesthetics?  Although...

I've made a long flowerbed running the width of our house, nothing is growing in there yet. I've covered the bed with a membrane with bark on the top. Unfortunately the wind has blown the bark off the membrane and onto the lawn. Whereas, on another flower bed that doesn't have a membrane, but has wood chippings, the chippings are still in place. Therefore I'm deducing the wood chip has absorbed more moisture and is heavier, sticking to the soil underneath.

Thinking I'll buy the wood chippings - wondering what are other's opinions?



Trying to be the person my dog thinks I am! 
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  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 46,243
    edited 22 February
    The wood chip would absorb moisture the same regardless of what it's sitting on. It just sticks to soil more easily than membrane. Bark would do the same   :)
    Of course - if you have blackbirds, it won't stay in place anywhere  ;)
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....


  • PlantmindedPlantminded WirralPosts: 1,018
    If the ground is damp before you lay the bark chips and then water it thoroughly it won't blow away, under normal cirumstances.  (Even after the storms over the last week, the bark on my borders is still intact with just a few small pieces on the paths.)

    Aesthetically it looks better than wood chip, and I like to provide the loyal blackbirds that eat my slugs with some extra curricular activity! (They don't disturb too much and it's easy to kick back.)

    I wouldn't use weed suppressing membrane on a border that is going to be cultivated though, but that's probably the subject of another healthy debate!
  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 46,243
    I slightly disagree about membrane and mulch on a bed, especially through this time of year. It isn't a problem to plant into, assuming the soil below is in good condition, because it protects it a bit. I've done it many times. It's particularly good if there's a load of manure underneath, and it's being left to break down. The bark can then be dug in as well. 
    The soil here doesn't warm up until around May, so it would be lying bare for a long time, especially if it's not going to be big tough shrubs or a hedge going into it. Soggy, cold soil isn't great for young perennials. 
    Always depends on the site and location  ;)
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....


  • PlantmindedPlantminded WirralPosts: 1,018
    Interesting, do you remove the weed suppressing membrane after winter to then dig the mulch into the soil @Fairygirl?  I can see why you would use it over winter in your location.
  • FireFire LondonPosts: 14,021
    bark is chunkier so takes longer to break down
  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 46,243
    Yes. That would be the usual method. I only do it with ground that hasn't yet been cultivated. Otherwise, it would just be a standard mulch of some kind applied - when I can be bothered.  ;)
    I don't use bark around perennials - it would be for shrubs or hedging, but I'd normally do it in late summer or spring, mostly for aesthetics. I'd mainly use compost in perennial beds- usually  in autumn with spent stuff from pots etc.
    I also don't have a lot of bare ground - lots of groundcover. I did a bit of tidying in one bed yesterday and stuck a few handfuls of compost on some bare bits   :)
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....


  • PlantmindedPlantminded WirralPosts: 1,018
    Thank you, I didn't think you'd leave the membrane on the beds over summer 😊.
  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 46,243
    Ah - sorry  -I didn't realise what you meant @Plantminded:D
    Other than that -I normally only use membrane when it's a path. 
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....


  • BobTheGardenerBobTheGardener Leicestershire, UKPosts: 11,336
    I also would only use membrane as a temporary measure on uncultivated ground.  It's a complete nightmare when it has been used on borders and planted-through, then left in place for years, ater which it becomes virtually impossible to remove.  Once your area is weed-free, I would mulch it with about 10cm of well-rotted manure, then cover that with bark chippings to improve appearance.  The worms will do the rest and if you repeat every autumn, you will end up with a highly fertile area, where the only digging needed will be planting and 'unplanting' :)
    A trowel in the hand is worth a thousand lost under a bush.
  • Jenny_AsterJenny_Aster Posts: 432
    edited 22 February
    Thanks for your replies everyone, interesting to hear other's views.

    Think you're right @BobTheGardener, I've plans for a few cottagey perennials to be added on the long bed, I'll remove the membrane when I plant up the bed.
    Trying to be the person my dog thinks I am! 
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