Mulch Problem

Discussion in 'Landscape Architecture and Design' started by Henry, Jun 20, 2000.

  1. Henry

    Henry LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 548

    Has anyone ever had mulch kill the lawn near it? On Saturday we mulched a customers beds and by Sunday the lawn was turning yellow around the edges of the beds. It is dark hardwood mulch that we also used on a job the day before which as of today has not been affected.
  2. Evan528

    Evan528 LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,144

    are you sure the home owner still not spray the weds in the bed with round up anticipating you were mulching? that has happened to me several times.... it drifts more than they relize!
  3. Lanelle

    Lanelle LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,361

    Did the mulch affect plantings in the beds where it was applied?<p>----------<br>Lanelle<br>
  4. Henry

    Henry LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 548

    The customer definitely did not spray anything in the beds. So far I haven't seen anything wrong with the plantings.
  5. Rufur

    Rufur LawnSite Member
    from md
    Messages: 143

    did you use a mechanical bed edger? whenever I use that thing it leaves about 1 inch of loose soil around the rim that needs to be brushed back or it will kill grass around the rim
  6. steveair

    steveair LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,073

    Hello,<p>I've had this problem before too, but figured it to be one of the following. <p>1. spraying roundup - drift, but not the case here from what you have said<p>2. Edging - did you edge the beds first? When you edge, especially if you are cutting in a 3 or 6 inch deep cut, you cut into the roots of the grass on the edge and there for the grass along the bed sometimes yellow out.<p>3. &quot;HOT&quot; mulch - Was it a hot day when you mulched? If so, a combination of the edging and the hot mulch could of burned the grass.<p>I'm sure you have seen mulch 'steam' before. when sitting in those large piles at the supply yard, mulch actually starts to decompose. This is a common problem. What happens is, because the mulch is piled to high, it does not have rooom to 'breath' what this does is increase the decomposing cycle. <p>When it decomposes, mulch produces ammonia (I think ammonia, but may be something diff't, but it does produce a chemical) Have you ever seen a homeowner get a delivery of mulch dumped on the yard? even if it is removed that day, the grass usually turns brown. This is due to both the ammonia and the relative heat of the mulch.<p>When you installed the mulch, did you have it spill over the edge? This could deffinitely have killed the edge. <p>By me, they actually have laws on high high a mulch stock pile can be. Some guys use to stack 1000's of yard in one big pile and then, POOF, it would catch of fire. Heard a few times of this happening. Also happens at the refuge yard at the county dump, where they recyle grass clippings and what not. Decomposing mulch produces a very signifigant heat, and can &quot;self ignite&quot; in situations like the high piles.<p>Even if the mulch does not seem that hot, even a few degrees higher than ground/air temp can burn a lawn, especially if you are in a drought, or low rain period.<p>Overall, I would say that the browning is not a major problem, as it should go a way in a week or too. Just be aware of how mulch actually is a &quot;active&quot; material that can cause damage. <p>steveair
  7. Ocutter

    Ocutter LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 314

    Steveair-<br>How high is too high for mulch piles. I heard 10-15 ft.
  8. BRL

    BRL LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,211

    A couple of the suppliers in my area sometimes have mulch piled 30 - 40 feet high. I've heard that the key to avoiding problems is to keep moving (aerating)the piles. I've noticed that they'll take their loaders and move the entire pile a few feet over at least once a week until it gets small again.
  9. steveair

    steveair LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,073

    Hello, what BRL said is right on the money. A lot of guys pile mulch much higher than 10 to 15 ft, but they also move it very quickly.<p>If you have mulch piled up, but are selling it at a quick rate, then you should not have a problem. Also, if you do have slow period, it is a good idea to move it around every once in a while to get some air circulating through it.<p>Much like what guys do with top soil after rain. It gets soaked, so they have to move it around after a rain storm to dry it out again. <p>I also know a guy who likes to order mulch in the fall and then has it sit all winter, piled up to 30 ft. By spring time, the mulch is blacker than night. He likes installing dark mulch, so this is a way to get it real dark. Being winter, the cold temps keep the mulch much cooler, so you can get away with having it piled high. <p>steveair
  10. kenneybros

    kenneybros LawnSite Member
    Messages: 49

    2 summers ago i worked at a mulch supply yard, I compost a lot of my landscaping scraps so I can say that you are probably right on the money in regards to the heat of the mulch. A 2 foot high pile of grass clippings in the back of my truck easily gets 120 in a matter of the time it takes to cut the grass(dump each bag) and drive home. Grass clippings decompose quicker then mulch but the same is true when your dealing with 30 foot piles of 1000-1500 yards. Well enough rambling, but it was probably the heat of the mulch

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