All colored mulches are not the same

RedMulch.jpgAs temperatures warm along the Gulf Coast, gardeners across the region are ready to get outdoors to prune, plant and protect their yards and beds. Home and business owners are eager to clean up and clear out the brown and the dead and bring on the new life and color of spring, while protecting their landscaping for the hot summer ahead.

One issue that keeps rearing its ugly head in gardening circles and among our customers is the use of colored or dyed mulches. Are colored mulches bad for your landscaping? If so, how can gardeners achieve the color they like without all the additives they don’t? Here are some facts to know about colored mulches and — spoiler alert — yes, you can have safe and beautiful colored mulches. Here’s what you need to know:

Dyed mulches have sourcing “issues.” Most colored and dyed mulches on the market are made of lower-quality, recycled waste wood that can include pallets, construction waste, old decking and lumber treated with chemicals to preserve the wood. Once the waste wood is ground up, the wood is sprayed with a chemical dye to produce the dark brown, black or red effect, and to cover inconsistencies in the underlying product.

Dyed mulches can degrade the underlying soil. Chemical and artificial dyes leach contaminants into the surrounding soils, killing beneficial bacteria in the soil, as well as beneficial insects and earthworms that promote better soil health. If you’ve ever noticed how fast the dark color from new mulch spreads to driveways and sidewalks after watering or a heavy rain, keep in mind those same ingredients are soaking into the underlying soils of your lawn and beds.

Dyed mulches don’t enhance and improve soil health. It might sound obvious, but many people who seek out colored mulches forget one of the most important benefits of mulching in the first place: improving the long-term health of the garden. 

“Gardeners who choose low-quality mulches with artificial paints and dyes often lose in the long run because they save money now on mulch but lose money later on plants, water and labor,” said Triple-S Compost’s Jonathan Holub. “The point of organic mulch is not only to protect the plants’ roots from above but also to add valuable nutrients during decomposition. Fortunately, organic mulches can be made without dangerous dyes and paints.”

“The best mulches become part of the soil’s organic content over time,” GardenLine’s Randy Lemmon said. “That makes for more beneficial soil bacteria and enhances the environment for earthworm production. Composted mulches or naturally aged versions actually release nitrogen to the soil, thereby helping the plants rather than robbing from them.”

We couldn’t agree more. That’s why Triple-S Compost’s high-performance colored mulches are colored with environmentally safe, powdered pigments to add the color to our red and black mulches. 

Holub explains, “The pigments we use don’t leach or run, and are safe for use in all commercial and residential landscapes, so they work well for customers who prefer the aesthetic of the colored mulch with all the benefits of our organic, green-recycled mulches.”

Come see the difference for yourself. Our soil experts can answer all of your questions and suggest options for every gardening need. Click here for hours and directions to our yard.