Bark can be bought in different sizes, ranging from a fine grind to 2-inch nuggets. In particular, pine bark mulch is quite acidic (pH of 3.5 to 4.5), and can cause the soil to become acid with constant use year after year. The wood in pine bark mulch and other mulches doesn't provide much nutrition for termites, and without external food sources, the insects cannot sustain a colony. Pine bark mulch in gardens tends to last longer than most organic mulches, whether finely shredded or in nugget form. Everything is not rosy and rainbows when it comes to mulching with pine needles. When shallow rooted plants are planted in mounds of mulch, oxygen levels can begin to decline below plant needs. Leave the resulting well open and exposed to air. Or after much rain they can still germinate in the top of the mulch, but the open air regions of the mulch make it very hard for the roots to reach the soil below, generally causing the weed to die soon after germination. Ground cover mulch must have NO FINES. All together the problem with dyed mulch includes soil contamination, water contamination, damage to the soil ecosystem, and the inability to break down and add nutrients to the soil. Centenary Landscaping Supplies in Queensland. encouraged to direct suggestions, comments, or complaints concerning any accessibility issues Wood, including bark from larger, mature trees can be chipped and applied as a fresh mulch on both unplanted areas and around plants on well-established beds. There are two basic types of mulch - inorganic mulches, such as pebbles and gravel - and organic-based mulches, such as pine bark, bales of pea straw, chopped pea straw, and sugar cane mulch. Zero percent fines are better for the plants, however until standards improve and for the purposes of this article, 5% fines or less will be classed as No Fines. The strong texture makes it look great in your garden as it lasts a long time. C. Carlson. Typically, we would use pine straw or pine bark mulch. The weeds’ seeds blow in, receive water, and then germinate. There are also many types of mulch you buy. Fire can be one more result of using this tub ground non composted mulch with fines. Well composted fine grade mulch at least has any disease composted out of it with heat from the constant turning and composting. The disease spreading implications of not banning this practice are immense, and I am surprised the various state quarantine, agricultural and land and water conservation departments have not stepped in to stop the practice. I admit this is purely subjective, but I think the pine straw mulch looks … Copyright © 2020 Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. Quite simply the bigger and heavier the particle, the less likely it is to move. In particular, pine bark mulch is quite acidic (pH of 3.5 to 4.5), and can cause the soil to become acid with constant use year after year. The crazy aspect is that the people organizing this mulch, claim they do it for the environment, recycling rather than burning it. Pine bark is a long-lasting mulch that helps soil retain moisture, prevents weeds from growing, and provides nutrients for plants. It is generally a chip with sizes of 15mm plus. Mulch reduces weeds by blocking light from the soil below, preventing seeds from sprouting. Pine bark is used widely as a bed preparation material but should not be. Currently there is nothing the same, but professional mulch companies are now offering good recycled products, with less than 5% fines, which hopefully can be 0% soon. Eg: Make 20 to 40mm, or make the pieces chunkier. This type of mulch also is well known to spread weed, cause nitrogen draw down, and repel water, causing drought stress in plants. Benefits of Pine Bark Mulch. It is a premium quality soil conditioner mulch and will provide nutrient rich organic material to hard, dry soil which will help create an ideal environment for earthworm and microbial activity. The problem is, it can be expensive to buy. To avoid the above mentioned problems, regularly check the soil pH and rotate the type of mulch used. In fact, the recycled organic industry should be trying to produce chunky mulch with zero fines, so that customers have a choice. I have never seen onsite tube ground mulch turned and composted correctly. This is causing the deaths of many plants around Australia, as well as removing the benefits usually gained from using ground cover mulch. It's a very unusual thing to happen but if people are dealing with big bags of mulch, there is a potential danger," said Waghorn. (Phone; (07) 3373 4900), Botany Humus Mix: This humus product is ideal for conditioning nutrient depleted soils. These rodents live under the warm mulch in the winter and chew on the nutritious inner bark. If they really cared about the environment, they would instigate correct mulch production and composting techniques, as is conducted by professionals in the recycled organics industry. A fresh layer of mulch can also unify and enhance the beauty of your flower beds.. Best Mulch for Flower Beds. Even if the plants are planted in such a manner, the first heavy rain sees the mulch pushed up against the plant anyway. This type of mulch is usually too poor to fit into either category of ground cover or soil conditioner mulch, and really should not be used at all. Research shows that an amazing number of plants have rapidly improved in color and vigor within months of root collar excavations. Myth three: All mulch releases nutrients into the soil. nutans) and bald cypress trees (Taxodium distichum). So unless you know what you are doing, producing recycled mulch can even be dangerous. (It is on top of this conditioned soil that the specialist ground cover coarse grade mulch with no fines can be used.) This is especially common in the spring and the fall, which are critical periods for root growth, and during other wet periods. Mulch can be a very effective way of controlling weeds, but organic forms of mulch also can be ideal places for pests to live and breed. Symptoms appear as yellowing of foliage, often with prominent green veins. Individuals with disabilities are Think about starting a fire with two sticks, it is the fine pieces of wood that ignite easily, not the big pieces of stick. Since bark mulches have little nitrogen available, the bacteria utilize the soil nitrogen. Piles of mulch next to the trunk may also provide cover for chewing rodents such as mice and meadow voles. This will help everyone. Layering this over the top does not create soil laying problems. This is a problem because plant roots need oxygen to survive. The chip is generally 30mm in size. Symptoms of micronutrient toxicity mimic those of Phythopthora wilt. Both Mulch Makers and Australian Native Landscapes have told me they are looking into ways to do this, and are currently producing sample products, with the hope of having these products available by the time this article is read. A light raking of existing mulch may be all that is needed to break through the crusted or compacted layers that can repel water. Hopefully information like this will reduce the practice of using the wrong type of mulch, and encourage people to use chunky mulch with no fines as ground cover mulch. Not only are many projects using the wrong type of mulch, but too many are using a new and very dangerous form of mulch; non composted tub ground mulch (Raw Mulch) which is often disease ridden, and is produced by land cleared site wood and leaf material, that is not even composted correctly. School of Environmental and Biological Sciences, New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station, Office of Continuing Professional Education, Tree, Shrub, and Flower Growing Publications, Report Accessibility Barrier or Provide Feedback Form, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, Executive Dean of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Deborah Smith-Fiola, Agriculture and Natural Resources Agent, Ocean County. Generally, contractors with little professional mulch making experience are producing this mulch. It has good Air Filled porosity compared to most other recycled mulches, but not quite as good as hardwood chip. This point has recently been backed up by research conducted by Yates. The constant disease pressures from using the wrong mulch, is causing even tough plants like these to fail. Off the Leaf newsletter #303. Some may say that mulch with fines helps keep water in the soil below, but the reality is that mulch with fines and little airflow often become hydrophobic, actually repelling water, and not even letting it into the soil below, unless the rain fall is very substantial. Fire is another reason to only use coarse grade mulch without fines. Using Cypress Garden Mulch. Mulches from broadleaf trees and shrubs. Following is information about the different forms of mulch, why some can be a problem, and how to prevent that. If you’re heating with wood, odds are you already have a ready source of bark available, now all you need to do is convert it to usable mulch. Pine Bark mini nuggets: Medium (25mm) graded pine bark. Redwood chip: A medium (20-25mm) Red/Brown colour enhanced wood chip. Australian Native Landscapes, Sydney. Soil Conditioner mulch is generally made up of well composted fines. Two types of mulch were used in a planting, one was course grade hardwood chip with no fines, which did not show any major outbreaks of Phytophthora, and the other was composted tub ground mulch which, unfortunately, contained considerable amounts of fine grade material. On the other hand, hardwood bark is initially acidic, but ultimately may cause the soil to become too alkaline (basic), causing acid loving plants (such as azaleas and rhododendron) to decline because of micronutrient deficiencies of iron, manganese and zinc. Once this mulch is ‘ready’, it is usually spread by the landscaper on site, and then planted with plants; often resulting in major plant loses due to disease. To achieve a usable product from this process, this raw tub ground mulch would have to be graded and treated. Inner bark (phloem) death comes from the piles of mulch placed directly against the stems/trunks of trees and shrubs. Australian Native Landscapes. This so called cheap or free mulch causes major problems; in fact it would be better to use no mulch at all, than use this ‘Pollution Mulch’. After a couple of years of plants dying, weed invasion etc, everyone stopped using it. Another recent dubious practice is to put mulch on top of jute mat. The Gypsum will help break the clay down over time while the humus will add organic matter. Another alternative is to have the tub ground mulch graded. Soil conditioners are highly recommended as a way to develop better soils from poor soils. It is long lasting, excellent at stopping weed seed from germinating, allows water to easily flow through to the soil below, and best of all, it has excellent air-filled porosity, which helps suppress diseases in plants. Mulch may thus be one of the best or one of the worst things you can do for your plants. Increased surface temperature due to pine bark mulch has been shown to cause nearby leaves to lose more water. I rang Hedges Direct, who said that bark chippings can cause problems, as the wood may have been treated with various chemicals, which get absorbed by the plants. (It is not from the export wood chip industry) It is also reported to deter white ants and termites from your garden. Myth four: All mulches spread over the ground result in healthier better looking plants. All rights reserved. Do not confuse this with well processed recycled organics, which when produced correctly, and used in the right way, can be very advantageous. Cypress garden mulch is an organic mulch made from pond cypress trees (Taxodium distichum var. In reality, on site processed land cleared mulch needs to be used as soil conditioner, as I doubt it could ever be graded correctly to form ground cover mulch with no fines, and no diseases. The wet mulch layers piled up next to the trunk may begin to heat up when the bark begins to decompose. Open mulches with lots of airflow allow weed seeds that blow in to either fall to the bottom of the mulch, thus smothering their growth. The previous owner covered about a 1/4 acre of our lot with the mulch. One of the greatest aspects of using these products is too increase the presence of beneficial fungi and bacteria, which in turn help displace bad micro-organisms. Diseased trees and shrubs are included in the mulch, often resulting in the spread of fatal tree and shrub diseases, such as Armillaria, Phytophthora and other bad fungi are also left to prosper. Wet soils may not need any mulch. The challenge is for recycled mulch companies, to come up with something that looks and works similar to hardwood chip. By placing mulch with fines at 75mm to 100mm thick over the ground will only inhibit weed seed germination for those weed seeds already in the soil, but will not stop weed seeds that blow in. There is an effect of mulch type on surface temperature. When it rains, water drips off the tips of the outermost … Recently, there has been a move to clearing land, pushing the trees and shrubs into piles, and then using large tub grinders to mulch everything into a ‘bits and pieces’ mulch. Layering soils often causes drainage problems, increases in soil type diseases, and erosion problems. This all has to be done by qualified people that understand trees and mulch. At this point, the plant is usually in a state of irreversible decline, and will most likely die. It is bad to have low airflow and constant moist conditions in the top 50mm to 100mm around the crown of plants. Like pine straw, wood mulch insulates soil during cold temps and cools it during the summer heat. A simplistic description of the processes involved is as follows; fines and pieces too small to be used in ground cover mulch would be screened into one pile (called the soil conditioner mulch), whilst chunky pieces at least 20 mm or larger would go into another pile (called the ground cover mulch). Hardwood Chip: Mulch favored by the NSW Roads and traffic authority. After the soil becomes acidified, some nutrients are not available to the plant, and others, such as iron, manganese, and zinc, become readily available at high, toxic levels. Whether ground cover mulch or soil conditioner mulch, special expertise is required to produce a relatively problem free mulch. Specification: It is airflow that makes good ground cover mulch. Most roadside sites or land development sites however, would not have the patience or expertise to undertake such an extensive process. with Rutgers websites to: accessibility@rutgers.edu or complete the Report Accessibility Barrier or Provide Feedback Form. It doesn't add any nasty organic matter to the soil the way bark and pine straw do. Incorporate into the soil. Be sure to take these aspects into consideration as well. Pull mulch back from plant stems and trunks—a rule of thumb is 3 to 5 inches away from young plants, and 8 to 12 inches away from mature tree trunks. These disadvantages make dyed mulch far superior to natural options. The fine and medium sized products are the worst choices. Chunky Pine Bark: This attractive tan bark consists of 50mm curly chunks of clean bark. There have been many instances on the side of the road or even in the back of trucks where piles of composting mulch left for a week or more, particularly when palm plants are included, and these piles are not turned, that the mulch has got hot and caught fire.