We think the best way to have a healthy garden is to have healthy soil and healthy soil starts with regular compost mulching. Mulching the garden on a regular basis decreases weeding, improves plant health without chemical fertilizers and also retains water in the soil, making plants more resilient to drought stress. We have found regular mulching to be one of the most beneficial practices for any garden, actually reducing maintenance time in the future.
Cedar play chips and more natural arborist chips are starting to be used heavily to dramatically reduce weeding costs and create a woodland type healthy soil. They are different in appearance so see the photos below.
Cedar chips are used for a formal area or pathway. They are the best weed deterrent we have and are a very uniform product for walking or playing spaces.
Arborchips are more irregular in texture but a great weed deterrent and the most natural way to cover woodland and large areas. They are inexpensive yet one of the best ways to amend soil for health. They quickly form a microbiotic interface with existing soil that encourages mycorrhiza formation which are the pathway for plant root systems easily uptaking nutrients.
This is a side by side comparison of the texture differences between the natural arborist chips and the more formal cedar play chips.