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Urban Forest Mulch FAQ

Will colored urban forest mulch hurt my sensitive plants?
No. Urban forest mulch will actually help plants grow by retarding weed growth, maintaining soil temperature, retaining moisture in the soil and decomposing to provide nutrients back to the soil. The dyes used in the production of colored urban forest mulch are FDA approved for food contact and have been certified by third-party laboratories as being non-harmful to plants and shrubbery.

Is colored urban forest mulch made from contaminated wood that can be harmful?
No. Colored mulch is made from clean, dry hardwoods and softwoods. This mulch has been laboratory tested for safety, and over one million cubic yards are sold each year with no safety issues. This type of mulch has a proven track record over the last 10 years with no such problems.

Will the colors wash off and stain my concrete?
No. Once the color is dry, it is on the mulch permanently. It will not wash off or leach onto other things.

Does heavy wood mulch last longer?
Yes. Bigger pieces of dry wood take longer to break down than smaller wet pieces and therefore require less frequent re-mulchings.

How long will colored urban forest mulch maintain its color?
Colored urban forest mulch will typically maintain its color for more than one year.

How often is re-mulching required?
Raking the urban forest mulch at four- to six-month intervals will rejuvenate the beds and allow for additional aeration to plant roots. After about one year, rake the bed and top dress with one inch of new mulch to replace mulch that has decomposed.

Everyone uses pine bark – why would I want to switch?
Pine bark comes from the outside of the tree where insects and bacteria live and breed. Colored urban forest mulch comes from the center of the tree and has been dried out, resulting in a more solid product which decomposes slower (less nitrogen draw) and lasts longer (less frequent mulch additions). Also, we have all seen bark mulch that has turned gray after only a few weeks of exposure to the harsh summer sun. The dyes used in making colored mulch will remain for six months to one year with only marginal fading. Simply put, compared to bark mulch, you get all the advantages in a cost-competitive product which will last longer without re-mulching and look great year-round.

Will this urban forest mulch float away?
No. Colored urban forest mulch is made primarily from hardwoods, which are heavier and more dense than other woods. This helps the mulch stay where you put it. Given enough water velocity, you will see movement in any type of mulch; however, the solid heavy pieces of colored urban forest mulch do not have air pockets like the bark mulches and therefore will not “float” away. If you are seeing movement in your flower beds, make sure you are using a small concrete splash guard under your gutter downspouts. These are available at Home Depot or Lowe’s and will help the problem a great deal.

Is cypress mulch the best you can buy?
No. Cypress mulch is a high-quality mulch, especially when compared to pine bark; however, cypress mulch will not hold its color for nearly as long as recycled colored urban forest mulch. In fact, it will turn silver while the colored mulch has only marginal fading at all. Also, take a piece of cypress mulch and bend it. You simply can’t do that with colored mulch – it is hard and dry. This means colored mulch will last longer with less frequent re-mulchings. Finally, we are all concerned about our environment. Did you know that cypress mulch comes primarily from the Florida cypress tree? Did you know that cypress harvesters are coming under fire for recklessly clear-cutting cypress in order to fill the demand for mulch? Did you know that serious environmental damage is being done because of changes to vegetation, water runoff, soil erosion and wildlife habitat? How do you become part of the solution? By purchasing a 100-percent recycled product, you not only save precious space in our landfills, you also save trees from being cut down. This is what recycling is all about.

Are rock coverings a better groundcover?
No. Lava rock, pea gravel and cracked granite will not decompose. While this is good because you won’t ever have to add more rock, it is bad because you are not returning any nutrients into the soil through the natural decomposition process. Also, rock will not insulate the soil as well as mulch because rock absorbs much more heat, a serious concern during hot Texas summers. Finally, rock ground coverings cost three to six times as much money per cubic yard.

How much urban forest mulch do I need?
In order to get the advantages of urban forest mulch, you will need to apply it three inches deep. A simple formula is to take the length times the width of the area to be mulched and divide that by 100. This will give you the number of cubic yards needed to properly mulch the area desired. For instance, a 5’ x 30’ flower bed will need 5 times 30 = 150 divided by 100 = 1.5 cubic yards. Hard clay-type soils require slightly less mulch while sandy, loose soils require more. Another trick is to build up mulch bedding around trees even six or eight inches. While there is no soil benefit, the larger mounds of color will explode against your yard, giving a great look.

Will wooden mulch used near the home attract termites?
No. Termites are much more interested in the large solid pieces of wood your house is made of. They are not as attracted to the small shredded pieces of material that make up urban forest mulch; however, it is always good practice to treat the exterior foundation of the house with a chemical such as Dursban or Diazinon.

If I use mulch, will mushrooms grow in my flower beds?
Yes and no. Bark mulches are made from the exterior portion of the tree where bacteria, fungus and spores are prevalent. These mulches combined with a moist, warm environment can create good conditions for mushroom or bacteria growth. Colored urban forest mulch is made from the heart of the tree and has been thoroughly dried out. This removes the bacteria, fungus and spores, which can be a problem.

What do the experts say about colored urban forest mulch?

“Compared to bark mulch, colored mulch provided a more consistent weed control... Seasonal growth of annuals, perennials and shrubs mulched with colored mulch was greater than that mulched with bark...” – Elton M. Smith, Professor Emeritus, Department of Horticulture, Ohio State University

“In addition to passing the Toxic Character Leaching Procedure test, this material is not a solid waste, not regulated as a waste by the EPA, and therefore not limited in its use for land application...” – Thomas J. Monito, Regulatory Compliance Manager, Envisage Environmental Inc.

“There are no known instances of termites or other wood-destroying insects infesting (your) wood mulch... they would only be found in wood that is intact, not ground up... (your) mulch just doesn’t meet their needs...” – Gary W. Bennett, Professor, Department of Entomology, Purdue University

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