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black mulch

Discussion in 'Landscape Architecture and Design' started by GarPA, Apr 1, 2002.

  1. GarPA

    GarPA LawnSite Silver Member
    from PA
    Messages: 2,585

    I go thru about 25 yards a year on my own property...always bought double shredded...I'm tired of the stuff turing grey in a couple months...have seen the black mulch used on some commercial properties and after a year it looks great!...when its first put on it looks a little unnatural because its sooo dark...but months later its great....any downside to using the black??? we pay around 17 here for normal mulch ...should the black cost alot more based on what you see in your area? should I do triple instead of double? thanks much guys...
  2. LawnLad

    LawnLad LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 738

    Your bark mulch fades to gray as it ages. It's naturally occurring. This is one of the best products you can use for general use in the landscape. The fact that it breaks down is desirable as mulch is technically a soil amendment and not a landscape element (such as ground cover).

    Black mulch is typically a died product and comes from ground up wood pallets. Wood pallets are not necessarily good mulch (depending on who you ask). My understanding is that since the product is not aged, as it decomposes, the microogranisms will pull nitrogen from the soil. As well, as it breaks down, excess heat will be generated and this could burn your plants depending on what you mulch around. As well, some of the wood from the pallets and other sources may not be ideal for your beds (treated wood). This is the same product they use to make red mulch for Wendy's and McDonalds, etc.

    Never used it, but I know LESCO, and I assume others, sell mulch dye that you can spray on your bleached out mulched beds. I think LESCO sells it under the name "Nu-Mulch". Just don't spray it on pavement.
  3. GarPA

    GarPA LawnSite Silver Member
    from PA
    Messages: 2,585

    Lawnlad...excellent info you provided....I just assumed the black was processed differently...dahhhh!!
    Won't go for the black based on the nitrogen leaching you mentioned. Another supplier here says they use "wood' not bark for their 'normal' mulch and because they dont add water in their process, theirs holds its color longer. They said adding water makes it darken more quickly but it also causes it to fade more quickly??? That doesn't make sense to me...what do you think?
    thanks again for your advice
  4. Scraper

    Scraper LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,656

    The bark mulch tends to hold it's color longer compare to hardwood mulches.
  5. jkelton

    jkelton LawnSite Member
    Messages: 243

    In our area, we have basically two different types of black mulches. The traditional black mulch uses charcoal to make the bark turn black - this will turn silver quickly (just imagine putting the charcoal from your gas grill on the ground and watching it turn from black to grey). The other product is the shredded pallet products, which use a liquid dye to turn it black.
  6. lawnstudent

    lawnstudent LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 472

    Lawnlad writes:

    "My understanding is that since the product is not aged, as it decomposes, the microogranisms will pull nitrogen from the soil."

    All wood or bark based mulches pull nitrogen from the soil during the composting process. The microrganisms feeding on the carbon in the mulch use nitrogen and oxygen in this composting process. If the mulch carbon:nitrogen ration is 30:1 or less, the resulting composted mulch will return more nitrogen to the soil then used during the composting process. Bark mulch has a typical C:N ratio of about 60:1 and wood sawdust 400:1. Grounded wood mulch will be closer to saw dust in its C:N ratio. You can counter this negative effect on nitorgen availability by throwing some nitrogen fertilizer down before you mulch. Use enough nitrogen fertilizer to bring the C:N ratio back to 30:1 by wieght.


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