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smelly mulch

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by rdh, Jan 22, 2001.

  1. rdh

    rdh LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 394

    i was wondering if any one uses the mulch that stinks.
    if it gets wet stinks more.
    cant sit on porch with out smelling it .
    stink goes away but takes awhile.
    this mulch comes from city of hamiltons compost center(s**t
    plant)i see trucks hauling this out all day long.
    seems like its all you can get around here with out having to buy bagged mulch is it the same stuff?
    every body uses it around here is this stuff safe ?
    smells like a porto potty

    [Edited by Eric ELM on 01-22-2001 at 06:17 PM]
  2. Mean Green Machine

    Mean Green Machine LawnSite Member
    from Georgia
    Messages: 39

    I once used mulch that smelled like something died in it. I was sared at what i might find. All sorts of things where running through my mind, but when i got to the bottom and found nothing I decided it was just the wood. I even imagined i saw a bone! Why does it smell so bad and what is it?
  3. Skookum

    Skookum LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 675

    Decomposition would be my guess. When piled in large piles and it is wet, it begins to decompose. This is why it steams or is hot in the center of the piles. Decomposition is a form of energy that produces heat, the more heat the quicker it decomposes.

    If you ever lived on a farm, this is why you never put up wet bailed hay in a barn. The wet hay begins to mold and rot, releasing energy in the form of heat. As the heat builds it forces the hay to decompose quicker building more heat until, weeks, even months later, it can actually ignite and start a fire.

    Decomposition also generates a smell just like in rotting grass, hay, straw, and any other organic matter such as wood mulch. It seems that the hardwood mulches vs the cypress type have a more rapid decomposing smell. I would bet that there is a higher nitrogen or acid content in those as well, speeding up the decomposing and making the smell much stronger.
  4. CCSwanson

    CCSwanson LawnSite Member
    Messages: 59

    rdh, If you are having problems finding hardwood bulk mulch try calling Evans Landscaping in Newtown & Loveland or if that is to far for you call Anderson Mulch in Mason both have top quality mulch with no funky smells.
  5. rdh

    rdh LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 394

    thank you ccswanson i will try anderson mulch in mason
    im about 5 minutes from mason never heard of theme untill
    those evans trucks are the ones that haul out of the sewer plant that i was talking about
  6. CCSwanson

    CCSwanson LawnSite Member
    Messages: 59

    Rdh, Anderson is a little high but the product is top quality and always in stock
  7. Mulch that is not aged properly will also have a problem with smelling bad. As Skookum pointed out the decompostion is part of the aging process. As orgainc matter decomposes it gives off heat and it will also give off an odor. If there is too high of a nitrogen to carbon ratio then you will get a foul odor from the mulch as it ages in the pile. But also if the N to C ratio is not high enough then the microbes that break down the organic matter don't have anything to feed off of. I have run across some mulch suppliers that do not have a good quaility product for various reasons. Most of the really cheap ones cut corners to produce the mulch by using some shredded bark and adding sawdust to the mix, then add some sort of nitrogen source to it from either animal waste or solids from a municipal sewage treatment plant.

    There was a mulch producer in Nashville that was shutdown due to the odor and evidence of runoff from his operation. He was using solids from one of Nashville's sewage plants in the mix of materials for his mulch.

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