bark chippings or small stones - what should I choose?

2 May 2008
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United Kingdom
Hello all,

when I get around to finishing my garden project (its been raining for 7 days straight) I intend to section off part of the bottom end of the garden to turn it into a seating area. The plan is to dig out the turf down that end to about 3" deep, chuck it, flatten the area over and then "dress" it with either bark chippings or small stones for a decorative look. This area will end up approx 3" "below" the level of the rest of the lawn to create contrast and allow for easy mowing.

My quandary is do I go for bark or small stones (or large gravel). My soil is heavy clay and retains alot of water. To give you an example, after 7 days of rain a broad area I already started to dig out 10 days ago down to a depth of about 6" filled with that much water after 7 days of rain ! I have had to scoop it out with a pan and bucket today. Had that trench had it's turf in place (it has been removed) it would not be a pool of water as the missing few inches of soil acted to soak up the water. I will be putting some soil back to bring the height up but still anticiptate "puddles" when rain has been heavy.

So this is what I am contending with. Bark is cheaper to buy and softer on barefoot but should I go for stones/ gravel instead ? I am concerned bark chippings will rot and turn to mush with all the rain we get. Paving slabs are out of the question as this is a rented house and I'm not prepared to spend money on slabs or decking!

thanks in advance for your advice!
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my2p worth.

bark looks fantastic and smells nice when its first put down. however it does "dissappear" after a time, now i dont know if the worms take it but it does go, dependigin on how deep it is depends how long it will last, and if you put down a weed membrane, but when i got mine it was damp, when the sun came out it dried and shrank.

as its is wood it will shrink and rot anyway, unless you have a free supply of the stuff i would go for gravel, i have 20mm gravel and no grass.
If it's a rented house I'd check with the owner before putting gravel down. Personally I'd go for bark chips and top them up as and when.
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I always found that the neighbour's cats just love gravel.
They do not like stone chippings.
Gravel is smooth and I guess confy on the bum.
Chippings are rough and pointed...

They also just love wood chippings.

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