Mulch is a great way to slowly feed your plants, help retain soil moisture, prevent weeds, stop soil erosion and give your garden a neat and tidy appearance.

One of the best organic mulches is bark mulch because it’s long-lasting and hard-wearing.

Bark mulch will eventually rot down to feed plants, but in the meantime it improves the appearance of your garden not least because it lends a different texture to stones or paving.

Bark chippings and bark mulch are easy to create. All you need are trimmings and a garden shredder.  A shredder quickly and efficiently turns branches, twigs and stems into fresh, useable bark mulch. It’s an investment buy, but in the long term it will pay for itself in the savings you’ll make on mulch and compost.

Making bark mulch is a simple process if you have a shredder:

  1. Prune your garden and collect up the woody stems, bark and branches for shredding. A good time to create bark mulch is after you’ve pruned a hedge or tree. Most gardens generate enough woody waste to make a good amount of bark mulch. You’ll find that loose mulch is greater in volume than a hard, smooth branch. Those few branches will make a bucketful of mulch.
  2. Branches need to be a manageable size so cut them to around the length of your arm and check your shredder’s instructions on branch thickness before feeding them through.
  3. Put on gloves and protective eyewear before running the wood-based waste into the shredder. Do this slowly without pushing or shoving the wood.
  4. Collect the shredded pieces in a wheelbarrow or bucket.
  5. If you’d like your bark mulch finer, perhaps you’re making compost or want smaller pieces for container tops, run it through again. It really is that simple.
  6. Once you have the desired amount you can stop. It won’t take long because garden shredders are efficient tools.
  7. Make as much bark mulch as you can. To be effective bark mulch needs around five inches of depth on soil, so shred as much woody material as you can find. Anything left over can be composted.

Spread the bark!

Put a good thick layer of your bark mulch around plants and trees for a polished look. If you don’t have a great deal of bark chippings its best to put a weed suppressant layer down first, but if you have lots there’s no need, bark mulch is a natural weed suppressant. Use a good thick layer but make sure it doesn’t lie against living plants because it will rot their stems.

Perhaps one of the most satisfying aspects of making your own bark mulch, aside from the cash savings and the simple process, is that it’s sustainable. Shop bought bark mulch is made at timber mills where trees are felled specifically for their bark. By creating your own you reduce the need for tree felling and support the environment.

There are many reasons to buy a garden shredder – you’ll have a tidy garden, save money and support the planet but the fact you can make piles of bark mulch, bark chippings and bark compost has to be the main reason! You can’t beat bark mulch for its practical and smart applications around the garden.