Good hardwood mulch

Before we get to the 10 Commandments, please take a moment to read (or re-read) two of my previous posts on the problems associated with dyed mulch. One included facts from a leading expert on mulch, and one dealt with landscapers who push the product. (They're from two years ago, so the event and party info is no longer applicable, but the advice on mulch is still rock solid.) 

I did a seminar at the Cy-Fair Home & Garden show last Saturday, and I was baffled again that, to this day, people still use dyed mulches. As it turns out, a few people in the audience just bought homes that already had it. And some recently moved to the area from another state, so I understand that they just didn't know any better. But if anyone who listens to GardenLine, follows these weekly tips, or is a Facebook fan, and still uses dyed mulch of any kind ... well, that is just shameful. 

Some at the seminar reported, "My landscaper uses it for all the homes he works on in our neighborhood." Those landscapers are just ignorant and/or lazy, not learning that wood chipped up from pallets then dyed black simply provides no benefits. We need healthy mulch for weed suppression, moisture retention and to add good organic things to the soil. Yes, we need an aesthetically pleasing look for curb appeal, but I contend you never get that with black-dyed mulch. Dyed mulch doesn't look natural at all. 

Plus, most dyed mulches, because they are made from chipped-up wood, cause nitrogen immobilization (yellowing leaves) and slowly poison the soil. 

Here's what you need to commit to buying or having your landscaper provide: Texas native or all-natural mulch. They come in all kinds of "shredded" and "double-shredded" forms, and some local companies have all-natural mulches that keep their color longer than some shredded hardwood mulches of the past. 

Here's a list of good mulch sources. I should note that, with the exception of Nature's Way Resources, these companies also make dyed mulches (for the ignorant side of the market). But every single one carries an all-natural or Texas native mulch as well.

  • Lady Bug Natural — Ole Barrell 99 Premium Bark Mulch (sold only in bags for now) Their parent company, New Earth, makes colored mulches for mass merchandisers.
  • The Ground Up — Season's Double Shredded Native Hardwood Mulch (bulk or bag)
  • Nature's Way Resources — 9 different forms of native hardwood mulches in bulk and several in bag form
  • Living Earth — I only recommend their mixed mulch in bulk or Black Diamond by the bag (It's a mixture of shredded hardwood and shredded pine bark)

Finally, a point I have been pushing for the past five years: If you just must have a dark, dark mulch, use high-end compost as mulch. It is naturally dark, but chock full of more organically enriching benefits than even all-natural or Texas native mulches. 

Now, without further ado, here's my TEN COMMANDMENTS OF MULCH.