BDN - dark mulchMulch can be the gardener’s friend, but what if your mulch does more harm than good?  You might wonder how that could be,  if mulch keeps weeds down, neatens your garden, helps your plants stand out, and often feeds your soil, while concentrating watering on your beautiful plants.

Most of our neighbors use a lawn and garden service – the same garden service – either because they don’t want to bother working in their garden, or, as is mostly the case, given this is a second home they would rather relax, walk along the ocean or sit on the beach.

But their lawn and garden care service uses dark mulch for their gardens. Dark mulch makes plants stand out even more than they usually do.

But using dark mulch can come at a price.

Most dark mulch may not ground up bark, but dyed ground up waste wood. Some of this waste wood is from old chemically treated lumber, as well as torn down buildings, old pallets and similar discarded wood.

The ground up discarded lumber is then sprayed with a dye so it all looks the same and sold to gardeners and garden services as mulch. Now you might think this is a good use for the waste wood and on the surface it is, but if the waste wood has been treated with chemicals for preservation, then these chemicals can leach into your soil, eventually killing or stunting the very plants you want to protect and grow.

Moreover, many say that the wood itself leaches nitrogen out of the soil, much as grass clippings used as mulch do, and the dark dye can kill the bacteria and earth worms your soil needs.

While dark mulch may make your garden look terrific, this dyed mulch can also stunt or kill your flowers and vegetables you want to grow through the spring, summer and fall.

As with so much, so it is with your garden mulch – it’s buyer beware!