Black or Red?

Discussion in 'Crops & Gardens' started by Brittany Houser, Apr 12, 2015.

  1. Brittany Houser

    Brittany Houser Well-Known Member
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    My daughter and I are getting ready to put down mulch. We're both pretty clueless about which type, black or red would be better. I just love the look of red, and it would coordinate better with our house, but she thinks the fertilizer in the black mulch would be more beneficial to the soil. What do you all think? I can certainly live with the black if it makes that much of a difference.
     
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  2. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Veteran Member
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    Red, black, and brown mulch are dyed to obtain the desired color. These are made of ground-up wood, usually pallets that contain little or no bark. This will work well to retain weeds but it doesn't contain as much nutrition for plants as does mulch that contains bark. As the wood decomposes, it pulls nitrogen from the soil so, depending on the composition of your soil, they may not be what you want. However, if you are mulching largely to discourage weeds from growing through, that might work fine.

    Shredded hardwood bark mulch is probably the best as far as nutrition is concerned, since it is made from 100% tree bark rather than ground-up wood, containing more nutrition for the plants. We have sawmills around here and when the hardwood logs arrive at the mill, one of the first things that is done with them is to debark them. This bark is shredded, and sometimes shredded two or three times. When it says that it has been double or triple ground, that is what it is referring to. The number of times that it has been ground will affect the length of time that it takes for it to decompose, and how quickly nutrients are fed to your soil, but the important thing is that it contains hardwood bark.

    Pine bark mulch doesn't break down as quickly, nor does it contain as much nutrition for the soil as hardwood bark mulch does. Still, it is useful in preparing planting beds, as an additive to the soil, or as a base for potting mix.

    Wood chips are usually obtained from tree trimming companies. Wood chip mulch contains ground up wood, leaves, and twigs. It takes longer to break down, so it might be good for mulching pathways in your garden but they don't contain as much nutrition as bark mulch wood, and may pull nitrogen from the planting areas.

    Keep in mind that some plants don't do well in high nitrogen soil so, depending on the composition of your soil, a mulch that pulls nitrogen from the soil might be a good thing.
     
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    Last edited: Apr 12, 2015
  3. Brittany Houser

    Brittany Houser Well-Known Member
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    I didn't know about nitrogen being pulled from the soil by certain types of mulch. We will definitely have to think this over and factor that in. Thanks for all the comprehensive info! It gives me at least a grip on what we need to be considering..
     
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