Here in East Tennessee and in many other places in the US we love our mulch. Homeowners spend billions to make their landscaping look pristine and manicured. But why mulch? Why anything for that matter? It may look great for a while but it must be constantly redone or touched up. Does it serve a purpose?
I hate mulch and I’m going to tell you why. Mulch is dead decaying organic matter that retains moisture, harbors insects, and serves no practical purpose. Crushed up wood sounds organic and green but the reality is that it is made from trash wood like pallets and chips from tree cutters selling them to avoid a charge at the local dump. Then the mulch guys chop that up, dye it, and sell it to you for another profit. Not bad for trash. Wood is high in carbon which uses nitrogen to break down the wood effectively stealing the plants food. Guess what’s in Miracle Grow? That’s right, Nitrogen! See for yourself. Miracle grow label On top of that, who knows where the wood came from and what is on it. It can contain coal dust to color it as well as arsenic and creosote which is flammable. Do you really want that around your home?
Rubber mulch isn’t much better. With this you have a similar situation. This time YOU pay to have the tires disposed of, they sell them (paid twice again), then the next owner chops them up to sell to you. Besides the fact that it stinks and fades in the sunlight, it also releases zink into the soil. Customers have told me they bought treated mulch. In the bug world this means almost nothing. Any “treatment” if effective at all won’t last long. Then they try cedar mulch of pine straw. They are all worthless.
Any mulch you use has the same problem, moisture. The moisture retaining properties of mulch are touted as a benefit by the manufacturers but the truth is it can be very bad. Holding moisture on the stem of a plant or the trunk of a tree can cause rot, disease, and invite pests.
Against the house the same can occur. There have been many houses with wood siding ruined by mulch. Stucco covered houses find the mulch causes chunks to disintegrate off the home.
Overly wet mulch can breed mushrooms, mold, and artillery fungus. To make matters worse, often times the irrigation system does more to soak the mulch than water the plants. I have even seen the spouts spraying directly on the house. Any time you pile anything up it retains moisture whether that be wood, brick, or toys. The moisture is the problem.
Insects love mulch. From ants to roaches, spiders, earwigs, and even the dreaded termite find a safe haven in your beautiful mulch bed. Then, adding insult to injury, you slap that wet bug heaven right up against your house so they don’t have far to come visit. Often times the mulch is too thick. Over 2 inches is too much. I have even seen it feet deep and the home owner wonders why they have ants.
The only good property of mulch is killing weeds. If it smothers and suppresses weeds, how can it be good for your other plants? Take a look out in the woods. Do you see mulch? No?! Yet amazingly that stuff is growing all kinds of healthy plants. If God doesn’t bother with it in His garden, why would you? Most people use mulch just because it’s what everyone does. I wish I could get that kind of PR for my business. Mulch is aesthetics only. It’s for looks not function. If that’s what you want… wear it out. Just don’t wonder why you have other issues in the future.
OK, so my rant is over. Now what do you do with your new found knowledge? The best thing you can do is remove the mulch. I don’t care what the neighbors think, get rid of it. In it’s place put down rock. Pea gravel, crushed brick, or lava rocks. All great options just make sure they are golf ball or smaller. The larger rocks trap water under them and you are back to square one. Now I know some of you just have to
have your mulch. Ok, then put a foot of rock against the house, a barrier, then your precious mulch. In fact, using white rock and black mulch can be pleasing to the eye. Create a rock moat around your home to discourage pests. Either way, rock is your best option here. And never forget that mulch has to be redone every year. Rock may be more expensive initially but it’s not going anywhere. It might turn into sand after 1000 years but you won’t be around to care. But if even after all this reading you still just must have your nasty mulch… more power to you. Enjoy it and let your mulch flag fly. Read this article as well Just remember me when you need help with the ant and roach condo you call a flower bed. If you have any questions feel free to contact me at email@example.com.
Phoenix Pest Control serves Knox and Blount counties in East Tennessee