+1.610.678.8090

707 Henry Circle
Sinking Spring, PA

 

 

 

 

 


 

Mulch Facts



Not all mulches are alike!

In nature, plants use fallen bark and other natural debris as a protective covering. When mulch is applied around landscaping and gardens it adds that same protective layer.

Mulch protects the delicate roots of a plant from excessive heat and drought in the summer and helps them resist alternate freezing and thawing throughout the winter. Mulch also helps plants to retain moisture, prevent erosion, control weeds, enrich the soil and adds a decorative appearance to all landscaping.

There are many different types and blends of mulches:

  Softwoods
  Hardwoods
  Processed Mulch
  Mixed Softwoods, hardwoods - Mix of Bark & Hardwood
  Aged Mulch
 

Quality and Price of mulch is determined by the type of wood and blends.

We handle many grades of mulch:


Choice Blend Premium Bark Mulch - Highest Quality. Made from Oak and hardwoods [Approximately 80% bark - 20% wood] . No wood added other than small amounts of wood when the tree is debarked. Aged and processed to kill weed seeds and insects. Uniform dark color and size.
Choice Blend Premium Nature Mulch - Mostly hardwood with some bark added [Approximately 80% wood - 20% bark]. Uniform size. Color will bleach lighter than bark because of the wood content. Aged to kill weed seeds and insects. Some people call this mulch double shredded premium hardwood mulch.
Coffee Brown Mulch - This is dyed nature mulch.. Color is dark brown. It holds this color for 1 - 2 seasons. This is "NOT" dyed pallet mulch. Uniform in color and size. Aged to kill weed seeds & insects.
Midnight Black Mulch - This mulch is dyed NATURE mulch. Color is dark black. Holds this color for 1 to 2 seasons. This is "NOT" dyed pallet mulch. Uniform in color and size. Aged to kill weed seeds and insects.
Playground Mix - This mulch is designed for use under playground equipment. Light in color. Fine pieces to approximate 3/4" size. Used by schools, nursery schools and homeowners. Drains fairly well.
Heritage Red Mulch - This mulch is dyed red pallet mulch. Deep red in color, uniform in size. Does not hold moisture well. Stays red 1 - 2 seasons.
Woodchips - Also known as land clearing mulch. Not uniform in size or color. Used for ground cover in wooded areas and erosion control. Not a decorative mulch.
 

Our staff will gladly explain the different types and blends of mulches so that you, the customer can make a wise choice for your next mulch project. Stop by for free samples!


Landscape mulches are used to protect soil, conserve moisture, moderate soil temperature, and limit weed growth, as well as beautify and unify landscape plantings. Most mulches are mixtures of shredded wood and bark residues from lumber and paper mills, arboricultural and land-clearing operations, and wooden pallet disposal or recycling facilities.

Like other organic matter, wood and bark decompose over time. The primary organisms involved with their decomposition are bacteria and fungi, which derive their energy for growth from the carbon-based compounds found in wood and bark. These compounds include cellulose, lignin, and simple sugars. Bacteria are microscopic organisms that are not visible in the mulch. Fungi also may be microscopic, but many develop visible reproductive structures.

The fungi involved in the decomposition of landscape mulches are natural components of the mulch environment. Some fungi, such as the artillery fungus, are "recyclers" and break down woody tissue directly. Other fungi, such as slime molds, consume bacteria and other organisms living in the mulch. These fungi are not harmful to landscape plants, and no known health hazards are associated with them unless they are eaten. They can be found from April through October, usually following rainy weather.

Listed below are four common types of fungi growing in landscape mulches in the eastern United State--mushrooms, slime molds, bird's nest fungus, and the artillery fungus:
 

MUSHROOMS
Common names: Mushrooms, toadstools
Scientific names: Many different fungi product mushrooms.

What do mushrooms look like? They come in various colors, shapes and sizes ranging from less than an inch to several inches tall. Some are soft and fleshy and disappear soon after they emerge; others may remain in mulch for a few days, weeks, or an entire growing season.

Are they a problem? They may be poisonous if eaten.

What should be done? Appreciate their beauty; ignore them; or remove them.

SLIME MOLDS
Common names: slime molds, "dog vomit" fungus
Scientific names: species of Physarum, Fuligo, and Stemonitis.

What do slime molds look like? They start as brightly colored (yellow, orange, etc.) slimy masses that are several inches to more than a foot across. They produce many tiny, dark spores. These molds dry out and turn brown, eventually appearing as a white, dry powdery mass.

Are they a problem? No. These fungi are "feeding" on bacteria growing in the mulch. They are normally a temporary nuisance confined to small areas.

What should be done? The fungi may be left in place to decompose. If their appearance if offensive, discard the fruiting bodies in the garbage or sprinkle lime over the top to change the PH.

BIRD'S NEST FUNGUS
Common names: bird's nest fungus
Scientific names: species of Crucibulum and Cyathus

What do bird's nest fungi look like? They resemble tiny grey to brown bird's nests or splash cups with eggs. The nest is up to 1/4 inch in diameter.

Are they a problem? These fungi may grow in large areas of mulch. The "egg nests" are masses of spores that splash out. These spores occasionally stick to surfaces, as do the spores of the artillery fungus.

What should be done?  Turn your mulch over & break it up at least 1 a month.  These naturally occurring fungi decompose organic matter and do not need to be removed. They are interesting to look at--show them to children?

ARTILLERY FUNGUS
Common names: artillery fungus, cannon fungus, shotgun fungus
Scientific name: species of Sphaerobolus

What do artillery fungi look like? They resemble a tiny cream or orange-brown cup with one black egg. The cup is approximately 1/10 of an inch in diameter. Areas of mulch with artillery fungi may appear matted and lighter in color than the surrounding mulch.

Are they a problem? They may be a problem.  The artillery fungus "shoots" its black, sticky spore mass, which can be windblown as high as the second story of a house. The spore mass sticks to the side of a building or automobile, resembling a small speck of tar. You may also find them on the undersides of leaves on plants growing in mulches areas. One in place, the spore mass is very difficult to remove without damaging the surface to which it is attached. If removed, it leaves a stain. A few of these spots are barely noticeable, but as they accumulate, they may become very unsightly on houses or cars.

What should be done? ? To date, there are no known controls for this fungus. With support from the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture and private mulch producers, Penn State researches are studying the problem. 

One solution to the artillery fungus problem that is not horticulturally sound is to replace wood-based mulch with other types of mulch, such as black plastic or stone, in critical areas adjacent to homes and parking areas.

 

 

 


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