Wood Chips or Sawdust – Good or Bad for your Soil ?

Wood-chips or Sawdust are organic material and a good source of carbon and cellulose. So the first thing comes to our mind is that we can use it in our soil to make it more fertile. YES, we can use the woody material but there are both positive & negative aspect associated with it. Let’s discuss if wood chips or sawdust is good for our soil and to what extent?

Wood Chips

Wood Chips

I will discuss about both these aspects, rest is up-to you to decide.


When it is about preparing fertile soil, nature depends heavily on trees — leaves, bark, twigs, fallen limbs and at times the big trunks. Using this plan for building garden soil by using wood chips, sawdust or other woody residues — is an approach that promises massive but long-term returns.

A diet of woody materials which contains huge amount of fibers is exactly what many soils need. Rotting wooden residue present as organic matter for a long time, enhance the soil’s ability to keep hold of nutrients and moisture, which results in bigger, better crops.


It is not good to mix woody material in your soil if you are planning to grow something in it at-least for an year and a half because Wooden materials are high in cellulose and carbon. So they need nitrogen and time in order to decompose. If you mix or apply fresh wood chips or sawdust directly into your soil, the material will consume much of the soil’s nitrogen and leave the spot useless for gardening for around 2 years. In nutshell, the Nitrogen which is essential for your plant’s growth will be consumed by woody material to decompose itself rather than being used by your plant.

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Woody Material As MULCH

You can use Wood Chips as a mulch despite the fact that there will be nitrogen deficiency at the point where mulch and soil meet. You should use it wisely. Roots of the plants must not get in contact with woody material. Don’t mix wood chips in your potting soil. Use a nitrogen rich material like animal manure, blood meal, green leaves just below the mulch and mix the same with your mulch as well.

I recommend to use woody material in your soil and don’t grow anything in it for 2 years. Let the woody material decomposes, this will do wonders to your soil. But in the short term it can potentially lower soil fertility. If you are using it as a mulch, use it properly. Now it is up-to you to decide how to use wood chips.

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