We are now adding 30 cu metres of tree chippings annually to act as a mulch over the surface of the garden border beds to encourage water retention and to provide habitat in which fungi (particularly) and bacteria can thrive.
This in turn provides a food source for insects and worms which accelerate the breakdown of the plant material, raising the organic matter content of the soil and increasing its plant available nutrients water holding capacity.
We leave the fresh chippings to “age” for up to six months to break down the tannins and other strong organic compounds within the bark and leaves. We then spread it over the beds providing a cover about 20 cm (8 inches) deep
Note also that we leave wood and offcut branches rotting on the soil surface, sometimes covered partially in the mulch. This rotting wood provides habitat for fungi and insects that feeds our birds.