Bark dust vs Mulch

Posted by on Aug 19, 2014 in Gardening, How To | 0 comments

Bark dust vs Mulch Mulch is anything that is ground up to be spread on the soil as a ground cover.  From the verb, “to mulch” this simply implies that something has been ground into small pieces.  This includes wood chips, yard debris, bark dust, hazelnut shells, composted food waste, etc.  This wikipedia article even defines rock products like gravel as a type of mulch.  We are often asked what is better: bark dust vs mulch?  Our answer?  Well, what is mulch? We aren’t trying to be facetious, but sometimes our customers are referring to composted bark, like dark hemlock, and sometimes they mean yard debris compost like Lady Island Mulch.  If they’re from Hershey, Pennsylvania, they might mean cocoa mulch.  Yes, really!  Indeed, most of the time, it’s the yard debris or “the black stuff” they are looking for.  But we often have to ask clarifying questions to make sure we’re on the same page.  There is some debate regarding what is best for the soil and this blog post aims to address those questions. Terminology:  Yard debris compost is a better name for what many refer to as “mulch“.  It’s whatever is thrown into your yard debris bin, ground up, then put into a pile to compost for a year or more.  When in a pile, heat is generated while the yard debris breaks down, and everything turns a blackish color. Bark and Bark dust are, as the name indicates, the bark of the tree.  This is a by-product of the lumber companies, as it is simply waste for them.  The bark is knocked off of the tree at the mill, we pick it up and bring it to our site.  When it is unground, it is called “hog fuel” as it is sometimes used in the mill for power.  Bark Blowers grinds all of our bark at a medium setting.  Once ground up, it is officially “bark dust“.  Fresh bark dust varies in color from an orange-red to a rusty red. Composted Bark is composted in the same way yard debris is, in a very large pile.  In this case, it is only bark, nothing else.  The composting turns the bark a medium to dark brown color.  Our composted bark products include medium dark hemlock, and medium dark fir.   Pros and Cons: Yard Debris Compost Pros recycling old plant matter composted products are good for the soil aesthetically pleasing Yard Debris Cons unsure of ingredients (usually it can be anything from woody debris like twigs and tree limbs to weeds) woody debris depletes the soil of nitrogen odorous   Fresh Barkdust Pros recycling a by-product of the timber industry neutral PH when breaking down into...

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Weed Barrier 101

Posted by on Sep 25, 2013 in Gardening | 0 comments

We are occasionally asked for yard advice.  It’s true!  We have very few hard and fast rules, but if there’s one that we all agree on it’s that the black plastic weed barrier is only going to give you headaches.  For a long long time.  Here’s why: It’s slippery.  Unless you are putting a good three or four inches of bark, mulch, or other material on top of it, you are going to watch it all slip off at some point.  If it’s on any kind of hill, this is guaranteed to happen. It kills the weeds. And the good stuff too.  Along with weeds growing in your beds are lots of microorganisms and earthworms that are doing what they should be doing to your soil.  Healthy soil is alive.  It’s what makes your plants, trees, and garden grow.  There’s a great blog about this here: It never goes away. Because it’s plastic!  Over time it will start to crumble and then it looks like this: You’ll need more than a 2″ layer to cover that up.  And 2 inches is what we recommend every 18 months to 2 years.  You could put down the plastic, wait for it to look like this in a few years, and then either pull up the plastic or put six inches of bark on top of it. Weeds will still grow. The customers we have who are considering this route are planning on covering it with an organic mulch.  The weed seeds will still grow in the mulch.  In fact, they may take root through a crack in the plastic.  When you go to pull up the weed, up comes the plastic too. So what are your alternatives?  There’s a black landscaping fabric that is more like a fabric, which allows some sunlight to penetrate it and not everything will die beneath it.  You do run the risk of weeds coming up through it and the mulch you’ve put down, making pulling weeds even more arduous.  What we recommend most is to lay down recycled corrugated cardboard and cover that with bark or mulch of your choice.  This will smother the weeds and also break down into the soil over time.  Fall is a great time to do this as A Way to Garden points out here.  Keep up on your mulch application each year and you’ll have fewer weeds, and happier soil. Click here for our 5 Things to do Before you Barkdust post.  Or for more info on our PRODUCTS and...

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