Bark Mulch – How To Use It,Where To Find It
The Origins of Organic Mulch
When it comes to ecology and the balance of nature, organic mulch holds a hugely important place. Consider that a pristine forest requires no human interference to manage a complete system of natural rhythm. Seasons may differ from area to area. Yet, nature takes precedence in handling every aspect of seasonal growth. From seeds carried by birds to acorns that falls to the floor of the forest to the foliage that provides warmth in winter for soil to proprogate the next growth phase. Bark mulch is very much a part of these cyclical events. In the pristine forest, bark mulch is assisted in its regeneration by insects, birds and animals who are part of the ecological process. For gardeners, bark mulch provides protection from seasonal extremes as well as adding a finishing touch to the job of caring for plants, shrubs and trees.
Bark Mulch – The Garden Helper
Bark mulch can be drawn from oak, maple, nut and pine trees. Look for trees with a thick bark that has begun to moulder. This simply means that a dead tree with its bark intact is perfect for bark mulching purposes. Decaying bark is easily stripped from tree trunks and with the use of a shredder, turned into perfectly usable bark mulch. In some cases, depending on the stage of decay, the bark requires no more than breaking it apart manually. Using organic bark mulch assures the gardener of the most natural way to mulch. That which comes from the soil, returns to the soil to begin the ecological cycle all over again.
Purchasing Bark Mulch
Most garden centers and large box home and garden stores as well as online garden shops, offer bark mulch. There is a wide variety of bark mulches available. Consider whether to purchase organic or non-organic bark mulch. The difference is that organic bark mulch should be 100% natural bark without any chemical coatings or additives. Non-organic mulch may contain insect repellents, additives that help the bark break down into the soil and more recently, many non-organic bark mulches contain dyes to add color to the bark. When choosing non-organic bark mulch, read the label carefully. Certain dyes can enter the soil after a rain event and be carried into nearby groundwater and streams. Many gardeners may choose organic bark mulch for this reason.
Bark Mulch – It’s Many Uses
Bark mulch makes a home’s landscape appear neat and attractive. One good reason to choose organic bark mulch is that it is recyclable and only requires turning into the soil when it begins to weather. Non-organic bark mulch should be completely removed when it no longer holds its original color or strength. It will require proper disposal if it contains additives or dyes. Savvy gardeners know that bark mulch isn’t just used to make the landscape of a home more attractive. It can also be used in winter as a substitute for de-icers for sidewalks and other walkways. Because organic bark mulch breaks down naturally into soil, it can be a kind of “leavening” for soil that is too sandy or in soils of red clay.
- Red Oak Bark Mulch
PRO = Contrasts Nicely With Green Grass
CON = Not Recommended On Steep Slopes
- Pine Bark Mulch
PRO = Slow to decompose generally lasting a year or more.Pine Bark Mulch can be purchased in different sizes.
CON = Large chunks can float away from the mulched surface. May lower soil pH slightly.
- Cypress Bark Mulch
PRO = Attractive-looking, inexpensive and long-lasting. Chips are easy to apply.
CON = Many experts do not recommend using Cypress Mulch because its harvest depletes cypress wetlands.
- Eucalyptus Bark Mulch
PRO = Hold color for a long time
CON = Expensive If Imported
- Cedar Bark Mulch
PRO = Wood has natural oils that repel insects,
CON = May cost a bit more initially.
- Redwood Bark Mulch
PRO = Its Beautiful Color
CON = Its Cost & Weed Control is Only Fair
- Hemlock Bark Mulch
PRO = Long lasting with a natural reddish brown color
CON = Some People Don’t Like The Darkening Color Over Time
Read More: Mulch & Mulch Basics