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. This unique process saves you money, as well as providing a mulch … Following is information about the different forms of mulch, why some can be a problem, and how to prevent that. Fire can be one more result of using this tub ground non composted mulch with fines. Many believe mulch spread on top of the ground will provide nutrients into the soil. Mulch may thus be one of the best or one of the worst things you can do for your plants. 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. The Humus can also be dug into heavy clay soils with the addition of Gypsum and possibly a medium sand. Eg: Make 20 to 40mm, or make the pieces chunkier. This point has recently been backed up by research conducted by Yates. Mulch with fines spread over the ground becomes a haven for disease. This is considered a temporary condition. An uncomposted 100% recycled wood waist, with a particle size of 15mm to 40mm, with no fines, and good air filled porosity. (Photo for this mulch supplied by Centenary Landscaping Supplies in Queensland. 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. (Phone: 07 3373 4900). Screenings from land cleared mulch or any recycled mulch that has not gone through rigorous processing should never be used. 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. Cypress garden mulch is an organic mulch made from pond cypress trees (Taxodium distichum var. Be sure to take these aspects into consideration as well. 88 Lipman Drive, New Brunswick, NJ 08901-8525 The sand will open the texture to help replicate a good natural soil. Unlike natural mulches, rubber mulch doesn't decompose, so it's "sustainable." Soil scientists will all tell you that layering soil types is bad. 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. Once too many roots decline and die, the plant dies. 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. Centenary Landscaping Supplies in Queensland. 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 fact poorly composted mulch with a high degree of fines, typical of most non composted tub ground land cleared raw mulch actually causes nitrogen to draw down, locking up nutrients needed for plant growth. Over-mulching is a waste of mulch (and money!). Layering soils often causes drainage problems, increases in soil type diseases, and erosion problems. The soil pH, or acidity level, may also be changed by the continuous use of the same type of mulch. This is especially common in the spring and the fall, which are critical periods for root growth, and during other wet periods. This all has to be done by qualified people that understand trees and mulch. The fine and medium sized products are the worst choices. 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. Some mulches heat the soil as a function of solar radiation absorption more than bare soils. This of course is rarely if ever done. 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. Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey 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. The dangers of incorrect use of mulch or poor quality mulch must be heeded, otherwise mass planted landscape projects are in risk of failing all over the country. Recently, an observation was made that showed mulch with too many fines can cause disease problems. 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. Copyright © 2020 Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. Pine Bark mini nuggets: Medium (25mm) graded pine bark. The trees are ground into chips or shredded. 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. Phytophthora is devastating to many plant types, especially in NSW and Queensland. These disadvantages make dyed mulch far superior to natural options. Termites and Pine Bark Mulch November 15, 2014. Pine Needles Can Work as Mulch Pine needles, also known as pine straw, make fine mulch for some flower beds. If the thick layer of mulch persists for too long, then the plant can die due to lack of oxygen for the roots. UltraGrow Humus: A richly coloured, finely textured organic material that is pH neutral and is high in readily available nutrients. 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. When added to clay soils, they help break it up and improve drainage. 1998. This will help everyone. Mulches with lots of fine grade material that are used for ground cover actually act as a potting mix, or seed raising mix. A recycled by-product from plantation timber. While mulch may make a landscape look crisp and tidy, it’s more than an accessory. The strong texture makes it look great in your garden as it lasts a long time. 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. You can get rubber mulch in almost any color imaginable. I have been informed that pine wood chips attract termites. To achieve a usable product from this process, this raw tub ground mulch would have to be graded and treated. The most common causes are: Suffocation of the tree roots is the most common cause of tree and shrub death from overmulching. 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. 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. Copyright © 2020 Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. Before spreading pine bark mulch in your garden, however, you should consider common problems to ensure that the mulch is helpful rather than detrimental. I have never seen onsite tube ground mulch turned and composted correctly. All they are doing is polluting the environment. Visually look for the presence of a root flare; if not visible, at least some may be partially buried and must be exposed. Pine bark Mulch Advantages: This type of bark mulch is slow to decompose and generally lasts a year or more. Incorporate into the soil. Bark can be bought in different sizes, ranging from a fine grind to 2-inch nuggets. Hedge/shrub prunings and stems from younger trees or tree suckers can be shredded and applied directly as a fresh mulch on unplanted or planted areas. Piles of mulch next to the trunk may also provide cover for chewing rodents such as mice and meadow voles. Again only coarse grade mulches with NO FINES do this. It is airflow that makes good ground cover mulch. It’s only down side is that it is virgin material coming from forestry. This is a problem because plant roots need oxygen to survive. 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. Even if the plants are planted in such a manner, the first heavy rain sees the mulch pushed up against the plant anyway. (Phone: 07 3373 4900). It doesn't add any nasty organic matter to the soil the way bark and pine straw do. Do not confuse this with well processed recycled organics, which when produced correctly, and used in the right way, can be very advantageous. The result is a great environment for disease and bad fungus, particularly Phytophthora. Soil Conditioner mulch is generally made up of well composted fines. Pine Bark Mulch Problems. 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. 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!). Only well composted mulch or non composted coarse grade mulch with no fines does this. The problem is, it can be expensive to buy. Increased surface temperature due to pine bark mulch has been shown to cause nearby leaves to lose more water. When shallow rooted plants are planted in mounds of mulch, oxygen levels can begin to decline below plant needs. Unknown to many, there are two major categories of mulch. Wood Chip (Cypress pine): A wood chip created from the waste wood when the cypress pine tree is milled for its attractive timber. (May/June). 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. It stays in place because the straw lodges in the soil, building upon itself to create a stable layer of protection. If the trunk flare tissue is not sufficientlly hardened off before freezing weather arrives, the tissue may die, the roots may starve, and the plant will decline. Layering this over the top does not create soil laying problems. So, mulch with fines used as ground cover mulch actually wastes water, whilst good airflow chunky ground cover mulch saves water. Used correctly mulch has many benefits, but used incorrectly mulch can become deadly to plants, and can cause maintenance nightmares. Australian Native Landscapes, Sydney. (Photo for this mulch supplied by Centenary Landscaping Supplies in Queensland. Unfortunately, by the time the symptoms are noticed, it is generally too late to correct the problem. When it rains, water drips off the tips of the outermost … Pine bark mulch, made from the bark of different types of pine trees, comes in a variety of sizes, including small shreds, mini nuggets and large nuggets.While pine bark won't last as long as cedar bark, it is also not as costly and offers the advantage of not compacting over time and nourishing the soil as it decomposes. So unless land developers are willing to undertake professional standards, the reality is that soil conditioners should be made by specialists off site. 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. It is bad to have low airflow and constant moist conditions in the top 50mm to 100mm around the crown of plants. If you want plants to do well in the landscape use the correct mulch, namely coarse grade mulch with no fines. Whilst humus products are generally suited to most plants, native plants, (and in particular plants belonging to the Proteaceae family such as Grevilleas), cannot tolerate excessive phosphorus. It is a very hardy and long lasting ground cover that breaks down very slowly during the life of the landscape. It is a leading cause of death of azalea, rhododendron, dogwood, boxwood, mountain laurel, hollies, cherry trees, ash, birch, linden, spruce, and many other landscape plants. Only Ground cover mulch with good airflow and NO FINES does this. This type of mulch used correctly can also make a landscape project look great. Leave the resulting well open and exposed to air. It should have following chemical analysis; pH 5.0-6.0, EC (dS/m) <0.35, Total nitrogen <0.3, Calcium (%) <2.0, Magnesium <0.5. It takes a bit longer to break down as well and it doesn't contain any nitrogen or nutrients. So unless you know what you are doing, producing recycled mulch can even be dangerous. Perhaps random tests for pathogens could be conducted. However with new work cover laws, large wood chippers are often thought to be dangerous, so in practice this is hard to do on site. Redwood chip: A medium (20-25mm) Red/Brown colour enhanced wood chip. Often this scenerio is accompanied by bark beetles and borers, that are also attracted to stressed plants, expedite the decline, and also allow entrance of other fungal pathogens into the plant. 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. The maximum rate used for sandy soils should be 50% by volume. Ground Cover Mulch – Should always be coarse grade with no fines. 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. Ideal soil conditioner for mulch, suitable for natives and exotics. A fresh layer of mulch can also unify and enhance the beauty of your flower beds.. Best Mulch for Flower Beds. Typically, we would use pine straw or pine bark mulch. Benefits of Pine Bark Mulch. Very fine particles of pine bark mulch can rob nitrogen from the soil. Mulch may make a garden look tidy, but the work it does to improve the growing conditions for plants is what makes it most appealing. Is there a safe way to use them, or should I consider keeping the chips a reasonable distance from the house? It should have an organic matter (%) of 98 to 100 with a bulk density (Kg/l) <0.35. 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. 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. 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. Remove all soil or mulch up to the junction of the roots and trunk collar (taking care not to damage the tender bark) to expose the root collar. There are also many types of mulch you buy. The main recommendation from the Agricultural department was; ‘Mulches with better air-filled porosity would be better alternatives as they suppress some diseases.’. with Rutgers websites to: accessibility@rutgers.edu or complete the Report Accessibility Barrier or Provide Feedback Form. Australian Native Landscapes, Sydney. To achieve the above benefits, only professional, well composted soil conditioner mulch derived material should be used. Other benefits of Humus & Soil Conditioner. "Fresh," or non-aged (uncomposted) mulches may cause nitrogen deficiencies in many young plants. Those layers of bark or pine straw also improve soil texture, suppress weeds, and conserve water. However, on poorly drained soils, mulch depths should not exceed 2 inches, especially for shallow rooted plants. Off the Leaf newsletter #303. These rodents live under the warm mulch in the winter and chew on the nutritious inner bark. Another recent dubious practice is to put mulch on top of jute mat. There are many types of flower bed mulch on the market, from shredded wood bark and pine needles to rubber and cocoa bean hulls. Mulch Problems. 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. Wood chunks are preferable to bark. Mulch with fine grade material has very poor airflow, and will remain wet for long periods, causing many problems, including crown rot. Look for symptoms of leaf yellowing on new growth. This results in a minimum of 25% by volume being organic matter. 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. (Phone; (07) 3373 4900), Botany Humus Mix: This humus product is ideal for conditioning nutrient depleted soils. Mulch at this stage should be graded into separate mulch products and then treated correctly. Mulches from broadleaf trees and shrubs. Like pine straw, wood mulch insulates soil during cold temps and cools it during the summer heat. Pine nuggets take longer to break down; therefore, last longer in the garden than finely shredded mulches. Whether it is hard wood chip or any type of mulch, placing it on top of jut mat can lead to prolonged damp conditions, greatly increasing the incidence of disease, particularly root rot. Plants considered tough and resistant to disease have died in these conditions. Greenlife mulch and compost: 100% recycled green waste. This is hard to do on site. Chunky Pine Bark: This attractive tan bark consists of 50mm curly chunks of clean bark. nutans) and bald cypress trees (Taxodium distichum). New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station 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. Mulch keeps weeds at bay and protects your plants’ roots. (It is not from the export wood chip industry) It is also reported to deter white ants and termites from your garden. Now they use professionally produced mulch, and only the uninformed use what they now call ‘FREE MULCH’. If you have a problem with excess mulch, dig through the landscape to see how deep the mulch really is. A mountain of mulch, piled high against the tree trunk, does not kill a tree immediately—it results in a slow death. Coarser textured mulches can be placed a bit deeper due to better oxygen diffusion into the soil. When soil oxygen levels drop below 10%, root growth declines. Think about starting a fire with two sticks, it is the fine pieces of wood that ignite easily, not the big pieces of stick. Too Much Mulch Causes Too Much Heat. Course grade chunky mulch with no fines, whether composted or not, does not cause this problem to any significant level, most likely because of its good air flow and its larger size, it degrades slowly releasing nutrients, rather than composting on top of the ground. For these native plants, products such as Greenlife® `Mulch & Compost™’ available from Australian Native Landscapes are recommended. Even of higher importance, is to stamp out the practice of using incorrectly composted and poorly graded ‘Cheap, Free or Raw’ mulch, which is produced by tub grinding garden and land clearing waste (Not to be confused with composted recycled organics). The crazy aspect is that the people organizing this mulch, claim they do it for the environment, recycling rather than burning it. encouraged to direct suggestions, comments, or complaints concerning any accessibility issues This often goes unnoticed until the following spring when the "tree doesn’t look good." 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. On a positive note, properly manufactured hardwood mulch releases alkaline benefits to soil as it decomposes, raising the PH level a bit. Even well composted mulch, with fines catches fire more easily than the chunky mulch without fines, although even chunky mulch can catch fire. Pine bark is a long-lasting mulch that helps soil retain moisture, prevents weeds from growing, and provides nutrients for plants. This can really help improve the health of plants, and reduce the incidence of disease. 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. This is a good thing. I believe future improvements could make it even better. Coarse grade mulch with no fines has good airflow, and as such does not act as a soil. C. Carlson. Chunky Pine Bark: This attractive tan bark consists of 50mm curly chunks of clean bark. 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). Many plants have a growing point that is called the ‘crown’ of the plant. 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. Most fungal and bacterial diseases require moisture to spread and reproduce. It would be better to simply tub grind it repeatably until it is fine enough, than composted well and professionally, and used as soil conditioner. 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. Trunk diseases gain a foothold into the moist, decaying bark tissue under the mulch. I recommend buying the Red Wood Mulch to most people simply because it is much more affordable $26 … Please do not confuse professionally recycled tub ground mulch with, with this non composted land cleared tub ground mulch. Mulch also helps to keep soil moist and moderate its temperature. On the other hand, non composted raw mulch that is produced by tub grinding trees and shrubs from land clearing is almost bordering on pollution. Sometimes, plants cannot tolerate micronutrient toxicity, becoming stressed and killed by secondary disease organisms and insects. This is causing the deaths of many plants around Australia, as well as removing the benefits usually gained from using ground cover mulch. Well composted fine grade mulch reduces the disease problem, but only slightly. Fire is another reason to only use coarse grade mulch without fines. 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. Myth two: All mulch inhibits weed growth. All rights reserved. This unique process saves you money, as well as providing a mulch with no fines. How to use woody mulches around the garden. Myth one: All mulches save water by keeping the ground moist. When organic mulch is placed too close to your house, it can provide pests with hidden opportunities to make their way into your home. Unfortunately, there is a recent trend to use soil conditioning mulch as ground cover mulch. Job Opportunities | Webmaster. Mulch depth should standardly not exceed 3 inches. In fact, the recycled organic industry should be trying to produce chunky mulch with zero fines, so that customers have a choice. 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. Only ground cover mulch with no fines will do this, as mulches with fine grade material generally become water repellant. To avoid the above mentioned problems, regularly check the soil pH and rotate the type of mulch used. Most standards allow for 5% fines, which is the absolute maximum that should ever be allowed. There is an effect of mulch type on surface temperature. 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’. 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. In Queensland and other areas, where humidity is extra high, even 5% fines can have bad effects, so zero fines are always safer. This is true when you use mulch with NO FINES, as weed seeds find it very hard to germinate. Myth three: All mulch releases nutrients into the soil. 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. The large size deco bark is a fair mulch to use for shrubs and ground covers. Ground cover mulch should be chunks of wood or bark. These wrongly used mulches provide none of the benefits that people expect from ground cover mulch. 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. The soil conditioner mulch would need to be tub ground again, or regarded, and well composted, ensuring any pathogens were killed, as the lack of airflow in this type of mulch would create an ideal environment for pathogens. Cooperating Agencies: Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and County Boards of Chosen Freeholders. Myth four: All mulches spread over the ground result in healthier better looking plants. The weeds’ seeds blow in, receive water, and then germinate. What needs to happen is either we go back to the way the ground cover mulch used to be made from land clearing operations, which was to remove all leaf material and sticks etc, and chip the trunk parts of the tree, making sure to reject any diseased trees. 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. This process may cause nutrient deficiencies, especially if the mulch is mixed down into the soil and is of a fine texture. The chip is generally 30mm in size. In general, soil conditioners should preferably be applied to a depth of 50mm, and then incorporated to a depth of 200mm using implements such as a rotary hoe, or power harrow. Research shows that an amazing number of plants have rapidly improved in color and vigor within months of root collar excavations. Another benefit of using chunky mulch with no fines, is that it is less prone to wind and water erosion. The root flare stem and trunk tissue is quite different from root tissue—it cannot survive a continually moist environment, and must be able to breathe through lenticels.

pine bark mulch problems

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