Wood chips mulch helps save water!
The last couple of years we have seen a dramatic increase in the use of wood chips as mulch throughout South Africa, but especially in the Western Cape. This method is extremely popular amongst farmers and seems to be related directly to the drought we are currently experiencing. What exactly is mulch and why should you be using it?
First let’s talk about the terminology. The word mulch refers to a layer of material that covers the soil. It’s a name given to material that reduces weeding, keeps the soil temperature low and slows moisture evaporation from the soil down.
How does it work?
When you use wood chips you cover your soil with nutrients that boost the health and quality of your soil. The woodchips break down slowly releasing small amounts of nutrients at a time. As the chips break down this stimulates the growth of micro-organisms.
The size of wood chips is very diverse which allows for excellent water filtration and prevents the compaction of the soil. The different sized chips break down at different rates increasing the organic matter in the soil and extending the growth of micro-organisms for a longer period of time. The organic matter is then thoroughly worked into the ground by earthworms and other small insects enhancing the growth rate of your plants and trees.
Why is wood chip mulch so popular at the moment?
By applying wood chips during the hot summer months you drastically reduce the water evaporation from the ground. This reduces water usage significantly, thus saving this precious and now very limited resource.
Using wood chips as mulch is very environmentally friendly and sustainable as wood is used that would otherwise have ended up on a landfill or burned. Large amounts of wood chips are generated on farms every year anyway from chipping the prunings in the orchard, but also from farmers doing alien clearing – getting rid of all the invasive species such as Black Wattle, Bloekom (Gum), Port Jackson and Rooikrans which suck up all our precious water if allowed to grow unhindered.
Wood chips also enhance the appearance of the area and are often coloured by landscapers with the use of a special dye to increase the effect and differentiate between pathways and different garden beds.
Tips and tricks
For the best results wood chips should be applied as a layer with a thickness between 50mm and 100mm. As the chips break down the layer decreases in size so wood chips should be added annually.
Fungal diseases might occur when chips are stacked up against the tree trunks due to the moisture inside the chips. To avoid this just remove chips from the stems.
The benefits of using wood chips as mulch are many, and renting or buying a wood chipper for this purpose is ideal. Different materials require different chippers, which is why we have nearly 20 different options for you to choose from. Contact our head office for more information on the best wood chipper for your unique application and start making your own wood chips for mulch today!