Wood chips are fine, however I would not use them directly up against a house as the can attract insects. Bark mulches and wood chips are nearly the same with the differences being in the types of wood. Cedar and Cypress do resist rot and insects so they can be used against structures.
The only drawback of wood chips is that they tend not to last as long as some bark options. Wood chips are more likely to wash or blow away than "gorilla hair" bark mulch, and they are likely to gray over time, so they won't look as nice in a few years. Definitely agree with John about leaving space around the house, too.
Wood chips make fine mulch, Melissa. This article from an associate professor at Washington State University debunks many of the myths regarding using them. As Steve and John point out, they should not touch your house, or the base of your plants, for that matter.
Thanks very much!
i've used wood chips for many years and they work really well..also bark.
I love Scotts Naturescapes hardwood mulch. The Forest Brown is great and their colors last for close to a year, just as they claim.
Melissa, I have a load of wood chips delivered from the company that removes trees for me...saves them from having to take them to the dump. My understanding is, you should dump a bag of 10-10-10 on the pile of new chips and wait a year befor using them. Fresh wood chips can leach the nitrogen out of the ground so perhaps not the best choice for your plants. I will also add "cured" chips to the soil when I'm tilling hoping to loosen this clay!
A light layer of fresh wood chips, say an inch or so, is going to have little impact on the the soil's acidity level. To the extent that it does, researchers have found that the effects of wood chips involve mainly the surface of the soil, which means it's mainly shallow-rooted plants like annual flowers that would run into fresh-wood-chip trouble. Deeper-rooted trees and shrubs are much less likely to be affected.
Im glad to hear that, since last year I found I could get free wood chips....being on a budget meant that was very good news!! Free...and I received two huge piles in one season...I have a very lg space to 'chip'...so free was so great!