Mulch burn?

Discussion in 'Landscape Architecture and Design' started by freedm2, Apr 16, 2008.

  1. freedm2

    freedm2 LawnSite Member
    from PA
    Posts: 192

    I just got 15 yrd of tripple ground (very fine) bark mulch. I spread it over the weekend and now any plant/leaf that it touched is brown. Some mulch even got on the grass and it looks slightly burned too.

    The mulch was warm when I got it, it rained the night before. Is this just from the heat of the mulch?
     
  2. shovelracer

    shovelracer LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,009

    The mulch shouldnt be smothering the plants or their leaves. The grass will come back if you remove as much as possible, the plants may take longer. The mulch will be warm cause it is releasing energy as it decomposes, much like a pile of compost. Temps can get as high as 140 degrees from what Ive seen. Clean it up if you didnt already and take it as a learning experience.
     
  3. freedm2

    freedm2 LawnSite Member
    from PA
    Posts: 192

    Thanks...

    So you think it was the temperature of the mulch vs some type of chemical reaction? The mulch was steaming. I should have though it through before putting it around the plants (Liropes).
     
  4. shovelracer

    shovelracer LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,009

    I highly doubt its chemical. Heat is normal. On real cold mornings my dump looks like it is on fire cruising down the road with some steamy mulch.
     
  5. Critical Care

    Critical Care LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,654

    This is an older thread, but I wanted to show some photos of what can happen when hot mulch comes in contact with grass. The mulch is hemlock and was blown in on a fairly cool morning. The thought of some chemical in the mulch did cross my mind at first however I did assume and conclude that the burning was simply from the heat of the mulch. I often wonder what effect may have occurred had this mulch had been blown in later on in the day, but at any rate these lawns recovered after a few weeks.

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    2007_0604Image0003.jpg
     
  6. ed2hess

    ed2hess LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 13,329

    You are very fortunate to be in a beautiful place like that.....so cool looking compared to what we have. I am surprised that mulch would do that I never seen mulch burn.
     
  7. White Gardens

    White Gardens LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 6,776

    I wouldn't call it mulch burn, but that's ultimately what it is.

    I would say it's the composting organisms in the mulch couple with the natural tree saps that burned the grass.
     
  8. Critical Care

    Critical Care LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,654

    Uh huh, basically the end result is that the grass was burned by the mulch's high temperature regardless of the composting process. But yeah, we could blame the composting process on bacteria, air, and moisture.

    Ed2hass, this is a beautiful area. Lower elevations are high desert while the higher area you saw in the pics is coniferous and about 16 miles from a major ski area. Hard to complain, but then I don't have an ocean view like some have.
     
  9. White Gardens

    White Gardens LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 6,776

    What is brought to my attention is in Pic "1, If you look left to right the grade slopes in that direction.

    So, the grass is burnt on the left and not the right. So, my intuition is saying that it's from leaching of water off the mulch and not a temp related issue.

    Not trying to challenge your thought, just saying there is a couple other things that are standing out to me.
     
  10. RigglePLC

    RigglePLC LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 12,355

    In Michigan a couple years ago we had a similar problem. But I thnk the university people thought it was due to acids released during rapid decomposition of the mulch. Did it smell strongly like pickles? They suspect formic and propanoic and acetic acid. Vinegar odor?
     

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