The house that I recently bought has wood chips covering the entire backyard except for the flower beds and deck. I would like to remove them and increase the flower bed size and put stones on the path. The previous owners put plastic sheeting down and then spread the wood chips all over it for about 2 inches high. My question is, what is the best way to remove and dispose of them? The main reason I want them gone is because they house a lot of insects and slugs. Some of the slugs are huge.

EDIT: Clarification, these are wood chips and not mulch. These are wood chips that chip off when you cut wood using an axe. If needed I'll post a picture tomorrow.

  • Are the wood chips very big (like those from stump grinding)? A pitchfork can work for those. – Brōtsyorfuzthrāx Jun 21 '18 at 1:56

This is one of my favorite questions. GET RID OF ALL BARK AND PLASTIC period! Do you have a 'greenway'? Some au natural areas? This is the best place to dump the bark, thinly! Plastic does nothing for weeds and stops the entire cycle between atmosphere, rain/water, organics to feed the soil organisms that aerate and help plants uptake certain chemicals (NOT NUTRIENTS...plants make their own food). The only decomposed organic material I use for mulch is human poo mixed with sawdust and completely decomposed and continually tested. Gorgeous, dark taupe, fine texture, no weed seeds, no pesticide residues. Check with your closest sewer company/water company. Hope you have this available!! Call Sawdust Supply in Seattle Washington. They provide this stuff and can help you find this stuff in your area. 2" and NO WEEDS. If you get one blown in you can easily pull it up. This stuff feeds your soil and your plants. Throw that plastic away, away, away!! Sigh!!

  • I like your tip on organic material mixed with sawdust. The only problem I have is, doing this at the beginning of rainy season. Those wood chips are causing another problem: slugs :( a lot of them. Some enter our house too. The rainy season has started and I'm not sure if its a good idea to do it now. I don't want to remove this cover and rains causing some soil erosion and causing more damage to my backyard. – yasouser Sep 21 '15 at 19:58
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    Slugs love LOVE rock mulch as well...definitely plastic and large bark. Sand, fine mulch not so much. You will always have slugs. But to control them and get their numbers down the best thing I've found (not beer, not slug bait and not geese...grins...geese/ducks lap these slugs up like candy. They poop them out in slimy puddles and always on my back door stoop). Get a flash light, a pair of scissors and when it is dark go out on your lawn/plant beds and cut these poor things in half. You'll be pretty busy for 3/4 nights but makes a huge difference. Don't worry about cleaning them up... – stormy Sep 21 '15 at 20:20
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    Slugs won't come inro your home. Get that plastic pulled up!! They love living under this stuff. There are spiders and mites that give slugs a tough life. So do not get any pesticide applicators in there to get rid of insects. Once you get a workable CYCLE going again in your yard you shouldn't have any problems. Make CONDOS FOR SLUGS (etc.) and they will come. (Rocks, bark, plastic, debris are condos). Going out at night to...slaughter...works the best! Trust me...? – stormy Sep 21 '15 at 20:26
  • Thanks a lot for your answer. I'm with you on not using pesticides. I just have to toughen up to cut those poor little creatures :( – yasouser Sep 21 '15 at 22:33
  • I HATE killing anything. I mean, these guys didn't have a choice of animal species did they?! But this is the fastest and least cruel methods to KILL them. I mean SALT? Ugh. Drowning. Ugh...beer never really worked for me, at least they'd die with a bit of anesthesia. Grins, I really like that you are going to CARE as you kill. It will only take a few nights. Leave their guts on the lawn and they shrivel up. Pesticides, gee if they actually HELPED fix anything I would have used them during commercial applications. But they actually set one up for MORE work/control...sigh! – stormy Sep 21 '15 at 22:48

I'm not sure what the best way to remove them is but depending on the type of wood chips they could be good to mix with other green material to turn into compost for the flower beds. Using coffee grounds, grass clippings, and other plant material should give you usable compost by next spring. There's a few videos on YouTube showing how to do this.

  • Can't thank you enough for the YouTube links. They are awesome videos. Cheers! – yasouser Sep 21 '15 at 22:33
  • Brian, what do they say about adding 'protein' to compost? Slug bodies are protein...yes? Coffee grounds I am still not sold on...just don't over do. Composting wood chips is the only other thing I would do with them. Add nitrogen as you toss your compost. Oh, I'll check your link... – stormy Sep 21 '15 at 22:51

When scraping up wood chips in the past from stacking wood for the winter I've used a grain/snow shovel to get most of them up by pushing it under the wood chips, then using a leaf rake to gather up what was left behind. If you don't have access to one of those you could always use a shovel that was flat. Put the wood chips in a wheelbarrow, or pickup truck, and do what you want with them.

If the previous homeowner was nice then pull up the matting, and shovel them into a wheelbarrow/pickup truck.

Wood chips will decompose over time.

What you need:

  • grain/snow shovel
  • wheelbarrow/pickup truck
  • rake?

I recently found out about Garden Giant mushrooms, what you need is:

  • garden giant spawn
  • water until established
  • 2-3 years for rich soil in that area
  • Thanks for the answer @Codepen. I was going to get a rake and few big plastic bags and sweep them up and throw it into the yard waste disposal bin. But my worry is the insects. Since I have removed their cover will they start coming into the house? And what should I do about the plastic sheeting underneath the wood chips? – yasouser Sep 17 '15 at 20:49
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    Again, don't worry about the insects. Insects of any kind (well, exceptions would be ants, cockroaches) hate our home environments. Most insects are BENEFICIAL. Very few are a problem. The plastic sheeting can just go to the landfill...ugh. But GET RID OF IT. – stormy Sep 21 '15 at 22:56
  • plastic sheeting - pull up, and toss in the trash after you get the wood chips piled up with it, since it will work like a rake (it did with landscape rocks). – black thumb Sep 22 '15 at 20:25

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