A person adding mulch to the soil
Home - Garden
Think Twice Before Adding Wood Chips To Your Soil
Despite being a popular organic option, using wood chips as mulch should be avoided in certain places, as it's biodegradable and undergoes a reaction when put onto soil.
Since microorganisms use the soil's nitrogen to break down the wood, this initial reaction temporarily robs the topsoil of nitrogen, harming growing plants with shallow roots.
A nitrogen deficiency can cause stunted growth, yellow leaves, and wilting, so you're better off avoiding using fresh wood chips as mulch in your vegetable garden.
However, only the first few inches of soil are affected, and the wood chips begin releasing nitrogen after a year. Established plants, trees, and shrubs can benefit from this.