You’d better think twice before laying down your mulch. Read this and you will learn a few important facts, what to watch out for to minimize damage to your property, and what you need to know so you don’t poison your yard, pet, and yourself.
Before you buy or place mulch, you need to first determine what type of mulch you need. Do you need it to conserve moisture, to improve the fertility and health of the soil, to reduce weed growth or to enhance for curb appeal? There are also many types of mulch you buy. According to advertisements, pine or hardwood mulch last longer, shredded hardwood bark mulch has a lot of nutrients; pine needle mulch looks good, but does not last long. Sawdust mulch lasts long, but uses up the needed nitrogen. Wood chip mulch can be free from a tree cutting service but take forever to decompose, and has zero nutrition. Organic mulch costs more. Colored mulch looks good, Hay mulch contains weed seeds. Compost mulch may have some sewer sludge, permits a nutrient imbalance and contains high soluble salts. Newspaper mulch is flammable and contains carcinogens. Leaf mulch blows away. Bark mulch attracts wasps, ants, and termites. Rubber mulch does not deteriorate. Finally, cypress mulch lasts longer, holds more water, and is a natural insecticide.Now that you have been completely misinformed by commercialism, let’s get down to what I call “The Mulch Scams”.
“The Cypress Mulch Scam”. Cypress mulch contains natural chemicals that fend off insects and resist rot. The Cypress mulch did that many years ago when they used full-grown, fully developed, 100 year old Cypress trees. Due to unsustainable, over-harvesting of cypress trees, most cypress mulch now comes from immature baby trees that have not yet developed the properties that made Cypress mulch so popular decades ago. You are not buying what you are told you are buying. Furthermore, deforestation of Cypress has severely damaged the coastline. Cyprus groves were cut down which once protected the coastline from hurricanes. If you think hurricane Katrina was bad, just wait.
“The Landscaper’s Generic Mulch Scam”. If you live in the city, many garden entities or landscapers have city contracts to pick up free refuse on garbage day. This is garbage contains pesticides, weed killers, chemicals, dog or cat feces, animal urine, newspapers with ink, cardboard with glue, phosphates, and other nasty stuff that gets recycled back into mulch. You are buying a witches brew which can poison your front yard, the paw licking cat, the dog that uses his mouth to pick up toys and finally you the gardener if you don’t use proper hygiene or protection. Furthermore, you may have just been delivered the biggest mulch disease caused by Sphaerobolus fungi also known as artillery fungi shot gun fungi, or cannon fungi. As this mulch ages small 10 mm mold pods may start to develop. Then all of sudden at 10,000 horse power, these pods eject black globular sticky tar projectiles which stick to your home which do not wash off. I have seen several cases where people spend $20,000 replacing all the home’s siding.
“The Secret Formula Mulch Scams. You can get these after large storms, forest fires, hurricanes, and tornadoes because a lot of cleanup debris gets chopped up and recycled. You can get it from the inner cities like Detroit or Cleveland where thousands of home is bulldozed and this contaminated wood is also chopped up and recycled. You can get is from the mysterious Mobil mulch manufacture. For example and hypothetically,let’s say we had a 100 year old amusement park that was bought out by a bigger amusement park. Let’s say after this big conglomerate bought this 100 year old amusement park, which was full of old telephone poles and old railroad ties containing creosote, coal tar, arsenic and other chemicals, closed this old park and sold all the amusement rides to other small traveling carnivals. Continuing, hypothetically of course, you notice new temporary mulch manufactured faculty with huge piles of mulch being stored on the now empty parking lot. Then your drone spots black liquid sludge leaking out of the bottoms of these monster huge smelly mulch piles. This black ooze can’t be good for the creek or for the ducks. You might just wonder where this old amusement park disposed of its thousands of railroad ties, telephone poles, and wood roller coaster wood that contained creosote, mercury, chromium,copper, arsenic, and many other chemicals that were impregnated into these amusement park timbers.
“The Colored Mulch Scam”. In the past, red mulch color was made with chromate copper arsenate, a carcinogen also known as or CCA. Today we are told that red dies are made of soybean oil or iron oxides. Virtually, most commercial dyes are toxic, made from petrochemicals with heavy metals,some have Isopropanolamine, some amino alcohol, and other three plus syllables words that I can’t pronounce. No wonder when you read the mulch labels at Home Depot they state mulch colorant used. What is a mulch colorant? The black mulch stated by horticulturists looks unnatural because the color black does not occur in nature, except under anaerobic (means without oxygen) conditions where the soil is sickly and full of bad microbes. Furthermore,most common black colorant is carbon black, which is a byproduct of the chemical industry and a known carcinogen. Grab a handful of black mulch and rub it together in your hands. If your hands are stained, you might not want to use this stuff. Additionally colored mulched needs reclaimed or recycled wood to be able to absorb the colorant. You can bet that agriculture wood pallets that have spilled insecticides, factory pallets that had leaking chemicals,and wood crates from china all get chipped up and then dyed. If the mulch manufacturer is located in the country, than a few red barns get chopped up which certainly contain Pre-1978 lead paint.
If the mulch manufacturer is located in the city, than they chop up,plywood, press wood, or composite wood that contains resins, glues, and formaldehyde, deteriorated deck lumber full of micronized preservatives which is just nice way of saying chemical`nano particles containing pesticides, fungicides or biocides which can contain chromated copper arsenate (CCA), Alkaline copper quaternary (ACQ) Copper azole, Creosote pentachlorophenol, Linseed oil kerosene, acetic anhydride and much more. Many color dyed wood mulches rob soil of nitrogen and do not break down to enrich the soil,as good mulch should. Instead, they leach the top secret dye into the soil harming soil bacteria, soil insects, worms and sometimes the plants themselves. Let say and of course its hypothetical, a mulch retailer has a higher elevation property located next door to a rural home. He then piles colored mulch mountains on his land. When it rains, an oily mulch river runs through the rural neighbor’s property. Several days later, you have slimy, oily color scum floating in rural nice neighbor’s drainage ditch where the frogs live. I guess if this slime is just soybean oil and it must be OK. Furthermore, EPA, zoning, codes, and ordinances generally do not permit your unnatural mulch mountain drainage to discharge onto other properties, agricultural land, aquifers, and others.
“The Rubber Mulch Scam” which has recycled tire shreds that contain heavy metals like zinc, selenium, chromium, cadmium, and molybdenum, which are toxic to the environment as they decompose. These chemicals pose a threat to people, animals, and aquatic ecosystems as they leach into groundwater. In addition, they float away during rain and on hot days,they stink up your property. “The Sour Toxic Mulch Odor Scam”. This mulch has a pungent odor similar to ammonia, vinegar, and rotten eggs. Wood chips should be stored in long, low 4- to 6-foot tall piles that are turned frequently. Mulch should not be stored for long periods of time in huge monster piles that experience anaerobic conditions,where microorganisms thrive in an oxygen-free environment, usually in the center of large piles. This mulch can become laden with toxic by-products such as methanol, acetic acid,ammonia, and hydrogen sulfide gas. The mulch may also become very acidic, with a pH in the range of 1. 8 to 3. 6 which causes yellowing of leaf edges, scorched-looking leaves, defoliation,and death of plants.
“The Dog Killing Cocoa Bean Shell Mulch Scam”. Cocoa Bean Shells smell nice, but they contain theobromine, the same chemical that makes chocolate toxic to dogs. It has been known to cause dog diarrhea, vomiting,tremors, elevated heart rate, and even first degree dog murder. Therefore, the only thing we have left is the natural mulch with all natural products. Good luck finding this. Maybe we need to substitute the mulch with stone that comes in many colors just like mulch.
The only thing different is that we know the stone is natural and safe unless you live in a glass house.