pine bark mulch problems

All they are doing is polluting the environment. 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. The soil pH, or acidity level, may also be changed by the continuous use of the same type of mulch. The most common causes are: Suffocation of the tree roots is the most common cause of tree and shrub death from overmulching. There are many types of flower bed mulch on the market, from shredded wood bark and pine needles to rubber and cocoa bean hulls. The problem is, it can be expensive to buy. Following is information about the different forms of mulch, why some can be a problem, and how to prevent that. A light raking of existing mulch may be all that is needed to break through the crusted or compacted layers that can repel water. 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. This is especially common in the spring and the fall, which are critical periods for root growth, and during other wet periods. Ground cover mulch with fines create ideal conditions for disease to live and prosper around the crown of the plant, often causing, or enhancing root rot diseases in many plant varieties. Pine bark is used widely as a bed preparation material but should not be. It can be pieces that are 15mm, 20mm or 30mm, depended upon what the client wants, but should never have any material less than 15mm. 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. Pine nuggets take longer to break down; therefore, last longer in the garden than finely shredded mulches. This is hard to do on site. The challenge is for recycled mulch companies, to come up with something that looks and works similar to hardwood chip. (Ph: 02 9450 1444). This of course is rarely if ever done. If such wet conditions continue long enough, the phloem tissue may die, starving the roots since they then receive none of the essential photosynthates produced by the leaves. They should give the customers what they want, and not force customers to use what they produce. A vacuum process is used to free this product of all the wasteful fine wood dust and small pieces that often makes up 30% of normal pine bark. The incorrect use of mulch in landscape plantings is causing many mass planting landscapes to fail, and is inflicting major environmental damage, by spreading disease and weed problems. The main recommendation from the Agricultural department was; ‘Mulches with better air-filled porosity would be better alternatives as they suppress some diseases.’. This mulch is then usually left in piles, to supposedly ‘compost’, which it will not do unless it is turned regularly. How does over-mulching kill trees and shrubs? Myth two: All mulch inhibits weed growth. 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. I recommend buying the Red Wood Mulch to most people simply because it is much more affordable $26 … Myth one: All mulches save water by keeping the ground moist. Mulch … Humid summer areas such as Sydney and Brisbane should never entertain such practices, and should always strive to have good airflow around the crown or collar of a plant. Nandinas, Agapanthus’ and more, Heat tolerant Azaleas with more blooms, more often, Keep up to date with Ozbreed, including the state by state landscape newsletter, See all of our comprehensive, in depth research about plants and turf, Our library of informative and educational videos, For the breeder, home owner and landscape professional (including 3D graphics, top views and more), Our history, staff, sustainability policy and more, Copyright © 2019 Ozbreed Pty Ltd | Web Design, Composted Mulch with fines wrongly used as ground cover mulch, Composted Soil Conditioner Mulch used as soil conditioner, Non composted Land Cleared Tub Ground Mulch, No, generally creates bad microbe population, Mulch repels water and is causing plants drought stress, Provides slow releasing organic nutrients, Reduces the watering requirement of gardens. Ground cover mulch must have NO FINES. Only well composted mulch or non composted coarse grade mulch with no fines does this. Pine Bark Mulch Problems. 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’. Off course it is easier to do in specialized mulch making facilities. This often wrongly called recycled mulch, which should really be called non composted land cleared tub ground mulch or Raw Mulch, or better still, ‘pollution mulch’, is usually produced using every bad practice possible. This is considered a temporary condition. Layering this over the top does not create soil laying problems. (Photo for this mulch supplied by Centenary Landscaping Supplies in Queensland. Too Much Mulch Causes Too Much Heat. Off the Leaf newsletter #303. 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. Look for symptoms of leaf yellowing on new growth. Australian Native Landscapes, Sydney. Red Cedar Bark Mulch is almost double the price of our Red Wood Mulch because it is shipped from Canada, and we all know that is not cheap (especially with today’s fuel prices!). All rights reserved. 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. Over-mulching is a waste of mulch (and money!). Pine bark Mulch Advantages: This type of bark mulch is slow to decompose and generally lasts a year or more. Disadvantages: Large chunks can float away from the mulched surface. Soil conditioner is where fine grade mulches should be used, not in ground cover mulch. To produce soil conditioners from mulch and other waste products, a thorough composting procedure must be adhered to, with solid quality control inspections. Wood Chip (Cypress pine): A wood chip created from the waste wood when the cypress pine tree is milled for its attractive timber. Visually look for the presence of a root flare; if not visible, at least some may be partially buried and must be exposed. 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. Even well composted mulch, with fines catches fire more easily than the chunky mulch without fines, although even chunky mulch can catch fire. Mulch Problems. Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey Contractors planting thousands of plants find this hard. 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. If the trunk is girdled (>50% chewed around the trunk), there is little that can be done to save the plant outside of bridge grafting. Wet soils may not need any mulch. This point has recently been backed up by research conducted by Yates. However, major green waste recyclers should be able to take land cleared waste, and in professional facilities, produce products off site, that meet standards which allow it to be used as a ground cover mulch. Rutgers Cooperative Extension, a unit of the Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station, is an equal opportunity program provider and employer. Pine bark mulch in gardens tends to last longer than most organic mulches, whether finely shredded or in nugget form. A recycled by-product from plantation timber. I recently visited Florida in the USA, and asked a meeting of 40 Landscape Architects (for which I was guest speaker), if they had problems using cheap land cleared tub ground mulch that was not correctly processed. The wet mulch layers piled up next to the trunk may begin to heat up when the bark begins to decompose. If you want plants to do well in the landscape use the correct mulch, namely coarse grade mulch with no fines. << Back to        Articles Home Page       Maintenance Articles       Full List of Articles, Copyright © 2019 Ozbreed Pty Ltd | Web Design Smart Web Solutions, Exotic and native plants for home gardens and landscapes, Functional Westringias, Callistemons, Grevilleas and more, Non-invasive, beautiful exotics incl. Coarser textured mulches can be placed a bit deeper due to better oxygen diffusion into the soil. Myth three: All mulch releases nutrients into the soil. "Fresh," or non-aged (uncomposted) mulches may cause nitrogen deficiencies in many young plants. It will help get rid of the land cleared waste, it will improve the soil, and it will allow the mass planted areas to live. Please do not confuse professionally recycled tub ground mulch with, with this non composted land cleared tub ground mulch. Do not confuse this with well processed recycled organics, which when produced correctly, and used in the right way, can be very advantageous. Only ground cover mulch with no fines will do this, as mulches with fine grade material generally become water repellant. Phytophthora is devastating to many plant types, especially in NSW and Queensland. Basic soil science says never to create layers in soil, so incorporation of the conditioner is important. The fine grade material in the mulch still however greatly reduces the air flow around the crown off many plants or the collar of trees and shrubs, so it is much better to use coarse grade ground cover mulch with no fines. I believe future improvements could make it even better. Typically, we would use pine straw or pine bark mulch. Another recent dubious practice is to put mulch on top of jute mat. When it is dry, all it takes is one careless person to through a cigarette butt on the unprocessed tub ground mulch, and a major fire can be born. We will bring you this research in the next issue of Landscape Manager. At this point, the plant is usually in a state of irreversible decline, and will most likely die. I was told that about 5 years ago there was a trend to using land cleared trees, branches and leaf material, put through tub grinders and spread as mulch. Mulch at this stage should be graded into separate mulch products and then treated correctly. The Humus can also be dug into heavy clay soils with the addition of Gypsum and possibly a medium sand. This scenerio is similiar to composting, where temperatures within inner mulch layers may reach 120° to 140° F. This high heat may directly kill the inner bark/phloem of young plants, or may prevent the natural hardening off period that plants must go through in the fall in preparation for the winter. This mulch with fines had many major instances of Phytophthora occurring, which lead to many plants dying, particularly, but not limited to any areas near paths where water ran off the path and caused water logged conditions. Everything is not rosy and rainbows when it comes to mulching with pine needles. Be sure to take these aspects into consideration as well. Ground cover mulch is used to keep moisture in the ground, inhibit weeds until the plants cover the ground, and even to slowly release nutrients into the soil below. Ground cover mulch should be chunks of wood or bark. The trees are ground into chips or shredded. (Phone: 07 3373 4900). To achieve a usable product from this process, this raw tub ground mulch would have to be graded and treated. A mountain of mulch, piled high against the tree trunk, does not kill a tree immediately—it results in a slow death. Pine bark is long lasting, and when it does break down it enriches the soil with organic material. When soil oxygen levels drop below 10%, root growth declines. Symptoms include offcolor, yellowing foliage (chlorosis), abnormally small leaves, poor twig growth, and dieback of older branches. You can get rubber mulch in almost any color imaginable. (It is not from the export wood chip industry) It is also reported to deter white ants and termites from your garden. Chunky ground cover mulch with NO FINES (No more than 5% of fines), lets the water freely flow through to the ground below, but still helps keep the soil below cool, reducing the amount of water evaporation from the soil into the air. Ground cover mulch, used to cover the ground generally at 50mm to 100mm thick, and soil conditioner mulch, which is mixed with soil to improve and condition the soil. It stays in place because the straw lodges in the soil, building upon itself to create a stable layer of protection. Chunky Pine Bark: This attractive tan bark consists of 50mm curly chunks of clean bark. (Phone: 07 3373 4900). It is airflow that makes good ground cover mulch. Copyright © 2020 Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. Now they use professionally produced mulch, and only the uninformed use what they now call ‘FREE MULCH’. Unfortunately, there is a recent trend to use soil conditioning mulch as ground cover mulch. Unless poor mulching practices are stamped out, humid climate states such as Queensland and NSW, will find themselves with a very small range of plants that can survive, if any. Once established, the disease organisms ultimately invade the inner bark, starving the plant, and finally kill the plant. They are light and fluffy, so spreading them around is a piece of cake, and they don’t compact much as they decompose, so you don’t have to worry about them becoming too thick or forming a rain-impervious mat. Unknown to many, there are two major categories of mulch. This also occurs when trees are planted too deep (the root flare is buried). 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. Finer textured mulch, such as double shredded mulch, may need only a 1- or 2-inch layer. 15-40mm Forest Blend (Currently the best recycled product): This is a product available from Australian Native Landscapes in Sydney (Ph: 02 9450 1444), but if you live elsewhere, I am sure other mulch makers could create something that fits the specification. Using Cypress Garden Mulch. In Queensland and other areas, where humidity is extra high, even 5% fines can have bad effects, so zero fines are always safer. Increased surface temperature due to pine bark mulch has been shown to cause nearby leaves to lose more water. Blow in, receive water, whilst good airflow, act as a way to use for shrubs ground... Mulch as ground cover actually act as a potting mix, or should i consider keeping the ground result healthier. 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