The Benefits and Drawbacks of Using Cedar Chips in Your Landscape Beds

The Benefits and Drawbacks of Using Cedar Chips in Your Landscape Beds

Cedar chips are a popular choice for many homeowners looking to enhance their landscape beds. Not only do they provide a natural and attractive appearance, but they also offer a range of benefits that can improve the health of your plants and soil. However, like any landscaping material, cedar chips come with their own set of drawbacks. In this article, we'll dive deep into the pros and cons of using cedar chips in your landscape beds, helping you make an informed decision for your garden.

What Are Cedar Chips?

Cedar chips are small, shredded pieces of cedar wood. Known for their distinctive reddish-brown color and pleasant aroma, they are commonly used as mulch in landscape beds. Cedar chips are prized for their ability to suppress weeds, retain moisture, and repel insects, making them a multifunctional choice for garden enthusiasts.

Benefits of Using Cedar Chips

Insect Repellent Properties

One of the standout benefits of cedar chips is their natural insect-repellent properties. The chips contain natural chemicals and oils, with thujone being the most significant. Thujone is known to repel a variety of insects, including cloth-eating moths, carpet beetles, cockroaches, and certain types of ants. With cedar chips in your landscape beds, you can enjoy a more pest-free outdoor space.

Moisture Retention

Cedar chips are excellent at helping soil retain moisture. They act as a barrier, blocking the sun and reducing evaporation from the soil surface. This means your soil stays damp for longer periods, reducing the need for frequent watering. This is particularly beneficial during hot summer months when water conservation is essential.

Temperature Control

When applied at the recommended thickness of 2 to 3 inches, cedar chips provide an effective insulative cover for the soil. This insulation helps protect plant roots from extreme temperature fluctuations, particularly during the cold winter months. The chips keep the soil warmer, reducing the risk of frost damage and helping plants survive harsh conditions.

Aesthetic Appeal

Cedar chips offer a clean, natural look that enhances the visual appeal of any garden. Their pleasant aroma, which becomes more pronounced after rain or watering, adds an extra sensory dimension to your landscape. Compared to artificially dyed mulches, cedar chips blend seamlessly with natural surroundings, providing a more authentic garden experience.

Drawbacks of Cedar Chips

Color Fading

One of the main drawbacks of cedar chips is that they tend to lose their vibrant color relatively quickly. Exposure to sunlight and rain causes the color to fade, diminishing the aesthetic appeal over time. To maintain their appearance, regular replenishing of the chips is necessary.

Repellent Qualities Diminish

The insect-repellent qualities of cedar chips also diminish over time. As the natural oils and chemicals dissipate, their effectiveness in repelling insects decreases. This necessitates periodic addition of fresh cedar chips to maintain their pest-repelling benefits.

Installation and Maintenance

Proper Installation Techniques

To maximize the benefits of cedar chips, proper installation is crucial. The recommended thickness for laying cedar chips is around 2 to 3 inches. This ensures adequate coverage for moisture retention and temperature control while still allowing air and water to reach the soil.

Regular Replenishing

Given that cedar chips lose their color and repellent qualities over time, regular replenishing is essential. Typically, it’s advisable to add new layers of cedar chips once a year. J&C Lawn Care offers professional replenishing services, ensuring that your landscape beds always look their best and retain their functional benefits.

Environmental Impact

Cedar chips are a sustainable choice for mulching. They are biodegradable, breaking down slowly and enriching the soil with organic matter. This decomposition process improves soil health over time, promoting healthier plant growth. Additionally, cedar chips help reduce soil erosion and runoff, contributing to a more stable garden environment.

Comparing Cedar Chips to Other Mulches

Pine Straw

Pine straw is another popular mulching material. It is lightweight, easy to spread, and provides good moisture retention. However, it doesn't offer the same level of insect repellence as cedar chips.

Bark Mulch

Bark mulch, made from various types of tree bark, is excellent for moisture retention and weed suppression. It comes in different colors and sizes, allowing for more customization in garden design. However, it doesn’t have the same aromatic qualities or insect-repelling properties as cedar chips.

Rubber Mulch

Rubber mulch, made from recycled tires, is durable and long-lasting. It doesn’t decompose, which means it doesn’t need to be replenished frequently. However, it lacks the natural look and environmental benefits of organic mulches like cedar chips.


Cedar chips offer a range of benefits that make them a valuable addition to any landscape bed. Their insect-repelling properties, moisture retention, temperature control, and natural aesthetic appeal are significant advantages. However, the need for regular replenishing due to color fading and diminished repellent qualities can be seen as drawbacks. Overall, cedar chips are a sustainable, effective, and visually pleasing choice for many gardeners.

Discover the wonders of Double Tree's Incense Cedar Chips - a premium, 100% natural mulch solution crafted to nurture your plants and enhance your pet's bedding experience.


How often should cedar chips be replenished?

Cedar chips should typically be replenished once a year to maintain their color and repellent qualities.

Do cedar chips attract termites?

No, cedar chips contain natural oils that repel termites and other insects.

Can cedar chips be used for all types of plants?

Yes, cedar chips are suitable for most plants, but it's always best to check the specific needs of your plants.

How do cedar chips compare in cost to other mulches?

Cedar chips are generally mid-range in cost compared to other mulches, offering good value for their benefits.

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