I think I'm purposefully being driven crazy by the choices of, and the lack of use in the mad, mad, mad, mad world of mulch. Just like those who still participate in the Annual Crape Myrtle Massacre, and much like those that keep using poisonous weed-and-feeds, the mulch madness may very well send me to a real "mad house." Simply put, you should never use a dyed or ash-infused, nor should you ever use rubber mulches in our gulf coast area landscapes. And, along those same lines, it's amazing how many people avoid adding mulch to their landscapes. Somehow they think mulching once every other year is perfectly fine. It's not! If you have a neighbor or family member like that, send them the link to this email tip, or print it out and hand it to them.
There's a twisted irony to all this mulch madness in that there are so many quality mulches on the market. Yet, the ruinous products are the ones that seem to be as popular as ever. Again, the three mulches you should avoid at all possible costs in the landscape are:
1. Dyed Mulches
2. Ash/Boiler Ash Infused Mulch (Those are the really black ones)
3. Rubber Mulches
There are places and uses for each of these mulches, just not in the landscape, flower or vegetable beds of gulf coast gardens. As an example, I'm totally cool with rubber mulches for playgrounds and dog runs.
This Saturday is the first GardenLine Appearance of the spring season at the Kingwood Garden Center , and appropriately it is being sponsored by Living Earth Technology , so we can introduce the somewhat new Houston Mulch to those who have yet to see it. It's really just the shredded hardwood mulch that Living Earth has been famous for all these years, only manufactured specifically from city of Houston tree and shrub waste. And it's marketed in a uniquely different bag. I'll have more on that mulch in a moment and how you can pick up a free bag of it this Saturday, but still there are a couple of the maddening-mulch-motives of soil yards and the homeowners that need to be discussed
First, for those who don't think mulch is important in Houston, you've likely never read anything I've written in the past on the subject, so I can solve that two different ways. Here's some links to old email tips of the past. And for those who didn't know, I dedicated a whole chapter in my book to the importance of mulch in gulf coast area landscapes.
Back to the madness in mulch: I noted earlier that you should avoid dyed mulches, rubber mulches and especially ash-infused mulches at all possible costs. One of the links earlier in the chronicles of mulch-related email tips goes into that topic, if you want to read more. But it makes me bang my head against the wall when I see mulched landscapes donned in the profusely black, obviously dyed or obviously ash-infused mulch. Over time, both the ash and the dyed mulches are poisoning the soil and ultimately poisoning the roots of every plant in there. So, why are the soil yards selling them? They sell them because they make more money especially with the ash-infused mulches. They use these boiler ash by-products to extend their mulch supplies and darken them up. But the only benefit is to the soil yard owner's wallet. Sadly, even quality soil yards sell it, because they don't want to lose the potential business. However, the soil/mulch yards that understand quality will never 'recommend' ash-infused or dyed mulch. Just ask around and you'll see what I mean. Plus, as the consumer, you get to ask for what you want, and that same rule applies to landscape companies that apply mulch in bulk. If their first instinct is to use dyed, rubber or ash-infused mulch, I can say with utmost certainty that those landscapers don't know what they are doing, or they could care less how much they are ripping you off.
Still, even more maddening is how people avoid re-applying quality mulch to their beds. I can drive through any given subdivision and pick out the obvious homes that probably only put out one application of mulch per year, if that. With all the benefits, which I list below, that quality mulches offer it makes absolutely no sense why you wouldn't do it two to three times a year.
Here's my Top Ten List of reasons to apply mulch more than once a year:
1. They are the first line of defense against weeds
2. They help conserve soil moisture in the spring
3. They prevent soil surfaces from caking/compacting
4. They conserve moisture in the summer months
5. They help insulate roots during drought stress
6. They help insulate roots during freezing weather
7. They conserve moisture in the winter
8. They break down into useable organic matter
9. They enhance the aesthetics of the garden
10. They help conserve moisture in the fall
Names of Mulches I recommend:
1. Shredded Hardwood Mulch
2. Shredded Pine Bark Mulch
3. Mixed Mulch (a blend of the first two)
4. Black Diamond (bagged version of mixed mulch) must by LETCO or Natures Guide
5. Texas Native Mulches
6. Pine Straw
8. Living Mulch (a blend of Shredded Hardwood and Compost)
9. Shredded Texas Red Cedar
With permission of The Kingwood Garden Center, where we do our first spring appearance this weekend, we will crack open as many bags of mulches and compost that they will allow us to. That way, you can see with your own eyes what the right mulches actually look like.
So, how can you get a free bag of Houston Mulch? Get over to the Kingwood Garden Center this Saturday between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. Again, I'll be doing my first spring GardenLine Appearance of the season, and Living Earth is giving away some of their product. You could also earn more than one free bag and here's how: Listen to all four hours of this Saturday's radio program. Every hour we will give out a new "PASSWORD." Write down all four, bring them to the appearance and get up to three bags of Living Earth product as well as the new LemmonHead T-Shirt. There is a limited supply of LemmonHead T's, so you need to be there early for those, but I think with two pallets of Living Earth Houston Mulch, we got everyone covered with a free bag or three or mulch.
Until next issue, here's to Great Gardening from the GardenLine, heard exclusively, 6-10 a.m. Saturdays and 7-10 a.m. Sundays, only on NewsRadio 740 KTRH.
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