Saturday, September 17, 2011

The Danger Of Buying Toxic Mulch - And How To Avoid The Pitfalls

By Vanessa Summer


Mulching, these days, is becoming popular, because of the benefits it brings to the plants and soil in your garden beds. You will find one difficulty, though, at least in certain parts of the country. This is because in these places a waste product generated by sawmills, hardwood bark, is shredded and employed to make a mulch which has become commonly used. The sawmills had troubles disposing of the waste bark which resulted from the procedure of denuding the logs before sawing them.

While using bark to make mulch was a handy option for the lumber yards, but it's not perfect. The saw mills stack the bark up high to save lots of space, and with little demand for the mulch in winter the piles get really high. The hazard for your backyard garden arises from the mulch getting compacted too tightly by the front end loaders having to drive up onto the heaps. The debarked mulch requires time to decay, and it also needs oxygen and air flow in the pile. If compacted too tightly, the flow of air is inhibited and the waste matter becomes increasingly hot, to the extent that it could spontaneously combust.

Once it gets hotter, it also causes the mulch to become toxic, because it can't release the gas. Excavating into the mulch and dispersing it releases a terrible stink and also creates a danger to your plants. Your plants might be burn-damaged by the hot, poisonous gas which escapes from the mulch. Distributing these materials around your plants could cause them to end up brown in as little as few minutes. Your once green lawn could go an ugly brown any time you dump mulch like this onto it. The fact is that you are going to only find out that the mulch was toxic when you discover the undesirable "browning of the green."

You cannot easily identify bad mulch by the smell, because while it has a strong smell when you dig into it, so does good mulch, and it's not that dissimilar. An additional tip is that bad mulch is a touch darker, and if this alerts you to a potential problem you can test it by placing some around a plant that you don't value too much. Make sure that you take mulch from inside the pile, and never on the edges. If nothing has happened to the garden plants for more than 24 hours, the mulch should be fine.

Although it isn't the end of the world, this sort of problem is rather prevented than experienced. Imagine adding mulch around your plants with the best of intentions, only to discover they had been burned. Mulching is good for your backyard and your plants, but it is good to know that there is bad mulch, so buy your mulch from a reputable place that stands behind their product.

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