It is made out of Douglas fir or Western hemlock.
It is used to protect children against falls at children’s playgrounds.
It protects underlying soil, regulating temperature and lowering pH levels.
It has a name you might not expect and where it comes from may surprise you.
Its name is barkdust.
If you remember back to the last time you were at a children’s playground, you might recall these little wood ships covering the ground. When someone steps on them, they give a little bit, cushioning someone from a quick fall or sudden stumble.
They might be in a brownish color, or in a red-brown color. If you notice them, you’ll see that they line sidewalks, cover landscapes, and cover gardens.
Barkdust is what its name implies: They are small wood chips shaved off from a tree–small pieces of bark. They come from one of three trees–the Douglas fir and the Western hemlock are the most predominant, while cedar is also used. The Western hemlock and cedar have a brownish color. They are often used for children’s playgrounds as they produce fewer splinters. Douglas fir has a reddish color and has a lot “slivers” sticking out.
Barkdust is commonly used for three purposes: Covering play areas, landscaping, and gardening.
Barkdust is useful for covering play areas because it has a natural give to it that protects against falls and slips and trips. It is often used for playgrounds but other play areas as well. Generally, a 12 inch layer of barkdust is recommended for playgrounds as a child’s feet can slip significantly into the barkdust.
Barkdust also has applications within landscaping, and for good reason. Many Americans wish to improve the appearance and resale value of their houses and landscaping can do this. Landscaping has many benefits:
- It can increase a home’s resale value by 14%
- Spending as little as 5% of your home’s value on landscaping can get a return on investment of 150%
- Researchers for the University of Washington found that commercial offices with high-quality landscapes had 7% higher rental rates.
And, 83% of Americans think having a yard is important and 90% of those with a yard think it is important that it is well-maintained.
There are many possibilities for barkdust application in a yard. It is great for lining yards, as it is attractive and adds a little diversity of material to the lawn surface. It is great for landscaping around trees and shrubs. Barkdust is great at suppressing weeds and has natural herbicides.
It is considered to be visually appealing.
Many gardeners are also familiar with barkdust. Barkdust has natural temperature regulating abilities, which make it useful for placing over topsoil. It actually increases soil acidity, which is important in a growing environment. And it absorbs nitrogen when it decomposes, which makes it a good choice for laying on top of soil.
In addition, barkdust is great for the absorption of water–as in, during a heavy rain–and retention of that water to keep it from evaporating. This is useful for gardening in hot, arid climates, as the water will remain near the soil for longer than otherwise.
Barkdust is often harvested when trees are felled. After the tree has fallen, a machine will go through and chip the bark off, resulting in quantities of barkdust. It is often packaged and sold in home improvement stores and gardening centers. These generally come in small bags that are easy and portable for personal use.
For large commercial establishments, barkdust is transported to the sit in a large vehicle. Workers will then use bark blowers to scatter the barkdust at different parts of the property. Bark blowers are generally large instruments that can be carried by hand. Bark blowers take the bark from a pack, push it through a tube to the blower, which sends the barkdust to its intended area.
It is a process called bark blowering or bark dust blowing.
Bark blowers are used when the amount of bark needing to be spread is significant. Often, a team will work with many barkblowers to get the job done as quickly as possible.
A great deal of barkdust is bought and sold in the Pacific Northwest, where the trees that produce barkdust are most populous. A quick search for bark dust Portland for instance will turn up many results.