Mulch Madness--Part Deux
Two weekends ago, for those who pay particularly close attention to the actual radio show, you know I was playing a bit of GardenLine-hooky and running some best-of segments. This past weekend, you may have also figured out that I went to Austin for a mini-vacation. Yes, I went for the motorcycle rally, but I didn't actually go the rally-rally. Rather, I went for the parade and ensuing shenanigans on 6th St. Then, the next two days, my wife and I rode all over the Austin area.
I tell you this for a few reasons: 1. For all my listeners who seem to worry about me from a "parental perspective", I tell everyone now that I always wear a helmet. You would not believe all the instructive emails I received on just that subject, after I told everyone I got my first Harley. Fact is I actually bought my helmet before I bought my bike. 2. When I travel I look at all the landscaping in other places too and with a certain observing, albeit critical eye. And I've got to tell you that in Austin "THEY DON'T USE BLACK MULCH ANYWHERE!" So, God Bless the T-Sips for that. 3. And that leads me to re-work and re-send last year's email tip on this Mulch Madness. Here's a bit of what I wrote just one year ago on what I refer to as the Mulch Madness.
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 (especially the black ones)
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.
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. I can solve that in two different ways. First, here are 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. There are a couple of "dyed" mulches that use a soybean oil base for it's pigmentation, and they aren't near as poisonous, but they still look horrible upon drying out. So, why are the soil yards selling the dyed and ash-infused mulches? 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.
This is the equivalent to why quality garden centers still sell weed-and-feeds. They don't want to lose the business! 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 & Double Shredded Hardwood Mulch
2. Shredded Pine Bark Mulch (Pine Nuggets are kind of a No-No!)
3. Mixed Mulch (a blend of the first two found in bulk only)
4. Black Diamond (bagged version of a mixed-mulch) must be by Living Earth Unscrupulous soil/mulch yards are selling an ash-infused mulch and calling it Black Diamond – again, it's only available by the bag.
5. Texas Native Mulches (Nature's Way Resources sells my favorite.
6. Pine Straw
8. Living Mulch (a blend of Shredded Hardwood and Compost)
9. Shredded Texas Red Cedar ( the one "colored" mulch I can live with)
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.
Visit the GardenLine Home Page!
Randy's Tips Archive • Previous Newsletters • Podcasts • Appearances
ardenLine Listeners and E-mail Tip Subscribers can purchase a copy of my new book at discounted price!
Gulf Coast Gardening with Randy Lemmon
Check it out!
Garden retailers interested in stocking the book, should call the Nitro Phos Warehouse at 713-228-1868 for wholesale ordering information.
Click Here for
Our Printer-Friendly Version
Click Here for a complete
KTRH program schedule
E-mail The Editor.
Please feel free to forward this issue to friends and associates. Anyone can subscribe for free.
For Advertising Information: Bo Brown, general sales manager - 713-212-8013; Nick Peterson, online sales manager - 713-212-8520
You are receiving this newsletter because you requested a subscription. This newsletter is optimized for Microsoft Outlook. If the newsletter doesn't display correctly in your e-mail program, see our online version. To unsubscribe, instructions are at the bottom of this page.
© 2009. Powered by Clear Channel's ktrh.com.