How to put wood chips around fruit trees | + Perfect Mulch Depth

To put wood chips around fruit trees clear the area around the root zone of weeds by gently pulling them out by hand. Rake the area flat and apply wood chips 2 inches thick under the tree canopy. Water the wood chips in after applying to keep them in place. Top up the wood chips every 3-6 months as they break down and are absorbed into the soil.

Why you should put wood chips around fruit trees

Put wood chips around fruit trees to stop weeds, keep in moisture and improve the soil. Wood chips will help fruit trees including citrus to grow bigger and stronger. Fruit trees will develop a healthy root system, strong leaves and grow lots of fruit with wood chips. Using the right type of wood chip will create the best environment for your fruit tree to grow.

Wood chips are the perfect mulch for citrus such as orange trees

How thick to apply wood chips around fruit trees

Apply wood chips 2 inches thick around fruit trees to keep weeds down and allow rain to get through to the soil. You will need to top up the wood chips every 3-6 months as they break down and are absorbed into the soil. Wood chips will break down quicker in warmer climates so you may find you need to replace them over the summer months.

Every time you top up wood chips underneath fruit trees you are adding more goodness to the soil. Over months and years, your soil will slowly build up to contain lots of nutrients and organic matter from the wood chips. You will see worms appear just under the surface of your wood chips which is a great sign that you are creating healthy soil perfect for fruit tree growth and producing lots of fruit.

When to replace wood chips around fruit trees

Wood chips should be topped up over time to keep the thickness at 2 inches. You don’t need to remove the wood chips, just apply a new layer over the top of the old ones. Rake them flat which will help to mix them in with the old wood chips. This will start the break down process, as well as keeping the weeds down around the fruit trees.

Putting fresh wood chips around fruit trees

You can put fresh wood chip mixes around fruit trees. I find it is best to choose wood chips that contain both leaf matter that is green and brown bark pieces. This will break down well over time and add nutrients back to the soil. I always make sure I keep the bark chips away from the fruit tree trunks and I don’t have any issue adding fresh wood chips around my fruit trees.

My orange tree grows well with wood chip mulch underneath

Best type of wood chips to use around fruit trees

The best type of wood chips to use around fruit trees are a mixed bark and leaf mix or tree mix. This will include both leaves and branches chipped or ground down to varying sizes. The mix of brown and green material is the perfect balance to place around your fruit trees. This can be from pine trees, eucalyptus or a range of tree species.

A typical example of this is the mix that a local municipality would make when they trim street trees. This mulch mix would contain both green and brown materials, which is perfect for under your fruit trees. This mix together will be broken down underneath your fruit tree by soil bacteria and fungi and will add goodness and nutrients to your soil.

What type of fruit trees like wood chips

All fruit trees benefit from a wood chip mulch mix underneath them. This includes lemons, lime, oranges, pears, mango and apple trees. Do not place the mulch directly against the trunk of the tree as this can hold moisture and can attract pests and diseases. Add a handful of pelleted chicken manure or aged cow manure first to offset any nitrogen that will be taken up by the soil bacteria as they break down the wood chips.

Wood chips are good for fruit trees

Wood chips are good for fruit trees as they hold moisture in the soil and you won’t need to water as often. Wood chips support the growth of healthy bacteria in the soil which improves soil structure and will break down and release nutrients to make them available for your fruit trees.

My tiny lemon tree has tripled in size in a few months with wood chip mulch underneath

Wood chips also keep moisture near the surface of the soil which encourages worms to dig and travel through to the surface, creating air holes and aerating the soil. Worms also break down the organic matter in the wood chip mulch releasing more nutrients into the soil.

Wood chips and nitrogen

When the wood chips are applied, bacteria take up nitrogen as they start to break down the wood chips. The nitrogen is temporarily locked up by the bacteria but is released back into the soil as the wood chips are broken down. This has only a very small effect on nitrogen levels in the soil, but adding just a small handful of pelleted chicken manure underneath the fruit tree will help to counter this.

Putting old wood chips around fruit trees

If you have an old pile of wood chips that has been sitting unused, then you can put it around your fruit trees. This old mulch is great as it would have started the breakdown process and be on the way to turning into compost. If the color has changed to a dark brown and it is starting to look like soil, then it will be a great mulch to add under your fruit trees.

Spread the old wood chips around the fruit tree 2 inches thick and keep it away from the tree trunks.  

Wood chips will stop weeds from growing around fruit trees

Wood chips will stop weeds from growing around fruit trees as well as adding nutrients to the soil over time. For the best result, add a thin layer of aged cow manure or a handful of pelleted chicken manure underneath the wood chips before putting them around your fruit trees. This will add extra nutrients to your soil and offset the small amount of nitrogen that the bacteria will absorb when they break down the bark chips.