So, What Happened Here ????

Discussion in 'Landscape Architecture and Design' started by White Gardens, Oct 29, 2008.

  1. White Gardens

    White Gardens LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 6,776

    Next time you use bagged material, look closely at the bag. There has been a few times that customers have a couple of bags to throw down, and you can see spots of mold, ect. Saying that, they didn't have any problems, but it was suspect non-the-less.
  2. PHS

    PHS LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 724

    If it's a pathogen aren't you concerned about finding out what it is? No samples to the lab? If a pathogen is that virulent your whole landscape is toast. Replacing the mulch isn't going to help because the soil and everything else would be infested.
  3. TLS

    TLS LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 7,937

    I don't know....that A/C shot sure looks like some type of chemical burn to me. No mulch anywhere around it. Looks like either the homeowner or lawn guy got lazy and didn't want to trim around things. My guess is that it was windy that day and you got drift.

    The square spot of dead grass is no doubt from a stack of bagged mulch.
  4. White Gardens

    White Gardens LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 6,776

    Around the air-conditioner, that area was close to the driveway where she stacked the mulch to begin with.

    Without my books in front of me, I deducted it was root-rot. (not sure the technical name right this second. All symptoms were exact to the situation. As soon as I sprayed a fungacide, the bleeding stopped and within a week everything stopped dieing, and growing again. She got through the rest of the season without any more problems and everything grew nicely this year.

    Normally, I would have pointed to chemical burn, but I'm 100% positive that it wasn't. It's hard to beleive that a pathogen could do soo much damage, but it did. Like I said before, nothing looked to have chemical burn by any means, such as curling leaves, a "fried" look to the green foliage, just sudden death.
  5. White Gardens

    White Gardens LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 6,776

    I took all measures to get the health of the landscape back in order.
  6. RigglePLC

    RigglePLC LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 12,230

    TLS has a good point. No mulch around the AC unit--yet hosta and grass looks badly injured--except directly behind the AC unit--perhaps where they forgot to spray--or couldn't reach. The square pattern in the first photo is interesting. Square pattern is usually man-made. Rectangular, except with a weed and a little grass in the center. How come? Could be "Toxic mulch syndrome":
    About the odor--did the mulch smell like pickles? Vinegar? Formic acid? Classic signs of new, but not properly aerated or turned (anerobic) mulch. Did the bags have air holes? What was the mulch like--obviously new? Chipped brush? Chipped pallets? Shredded bark?
  7. White Gardens

    White Gardens LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 6,776

    The Mulch isn't what smelled, it was the smell of rot from the roots. It smelled liked a garbage can sitting in the sun, it made me want to throw up, and I have a strong stomach. In one of the pics, you can see the stems of hostas that pulled right out of the ground with no effort, and the slime on the base the base of the stem was gross.

    You can see the mulch in one pic, just chipped generic mulch, bags had no air holes, and rarely do I see that.

    I don't know what else to tell you guys to convince everyone that it was a pathogen in the mulch. I'll admit, I was as skeptical as you guys about the whether it was the use of chemicals or not. This lady is very particular and informed about gardening, so I took her word.

    You could literally see exactly where she stacked the mulch by the AC unit, and how she spread from area to area.

    I too was surprised how it spread even without having mulch down in some areas, the conditions had to of been exactly perfect for it to spread from bed to bed, and even kill off the grass.

    Like I said, it took no more than 48 hours after spraying the fungicide to help stop the progression of the pathogen, and the smell of rotting material started to go away.

    I will say, this situation had to be one in a million, literally. The conditions had to be exactly perfect for all that to happen.
  8. ARGOS

    ARGOS LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,808

    I never use bagged mulch, but it makes sense that it would encourage fungus growth. I would be curious what the manufacture dates on the bags was?

    The mulch looks like crap mulch anyway.
  9. White Gardens

    White Gardens LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 6,776

    It's funny you mentioned that. I had her see if she had anymore bags laying around and unfortunatly she didn't.

    The only thing I could think of, if it came from Wal-Mart, then it could have been an early spring shipment that sat around until July, (Breeding Fungus the whole time).

    One thing I didn't note about some of the spreading too, was that she watered her beds heavily 4 days after dealing with the mulch, right before she went on vacation. So conditions were ripe. (It might have rained that week also)

    Water droplets could of easily transferred spores around the beds. (sooty mold was also noted at the site)
    Last edited: Nov 3, 2008
  10. ARGOS

    ARGOS LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,808

    Ever have bagged lettuce in the fridge go bad? Could you imagine with mulch. I know that lettuce was able to be bagged AFTER special packaging was developed. I doubt that special packaging is used on mulch.

    Watering and the heat of July would create quite a humid environment for fungus to develop.

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