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doodle by andre: red is not the new brown!

APPARENTLY ANDRE HAS BEEN LURKING in the complaint department, where I admitted my loathing for dyed mulch (among other garden products that should not have been invented). Shall we all utter a resounding “no” in unison today to mulches of a different color? Thank you, Andre Jordan.

  1. Heidi says:

    Once again Margaret and Andre, you are so timely. Just yesterday I had a discussion with a friend/client of the merits of various mulches. She insisted she wanted river rock, a favorite mulch in these parts. I am not a fan, it’s not organic, it heats up too much in our summer heat and it seems to be a maintenance nightmare as the weeds take hold and the rocks must be moved yearly to clear the beds. What are your thoughts on the river rock mulches? Give me a good organic, composting, dirt colored mulch any day. OK, in retrospect, they are appropriate in the desert, but look out of place in the mountains of western PA

  2. I agree, I don’t like that red stuff! It isn’t the right color for midwestern gardens, it is more appropriate for western “Red Rock” country and looks out of place here. Like lava rock.In any case I’m not a fan of shredded bark mulch, it just ain’t natural! Give me a good mulch of shredded leaves anyday!

  3. Liz says:

    Lord, yes, no dyed mulch. The worst is when it’s used on strip-mall hell strips, and then abandoned for the rest of the year–or years–looking sadder and sadder and more and more alien. Oh, yes, and when it was used initially to disguise the plastic mulch under it, which surfaces as the mulch breaks down, the black plastic in ugly contrast to the bleached-out red mulch. Throw in the weeds that inevitably seed themselves, and the half-dead stellas and junipers, and you have a picture of anti-landscaping that’s hard to beat.

  4. kassie says:

    Wholeheartedly agree! I recently had no choice but to buy mulch at a Home Depot, and that was an eye-opening experience. Appallingly, I could only find one type I could stand–ground/shredded pine bark. Everyone else was buying red. Or that black stuff that smells so awful.
    The second bad thing about that mulch is how many folks hill it up like a “volcano,” as Adrian Higgins calls it. Why?!
    Thanks for another Thursday Grin!
    Kassie

  5. diana says:

    Yuck, I also worry about the environmental impact of the dyes! Unlike Heidi, river rock doesn’t bother me, it may not be biodegradable but it is organic and looks good in some situations.

  6. Linda From NC says:

    I agree with Andre and everyone else. The dyed mulch has got to go! I was reading through the complaints from about a year ago, and was wondering if anyone knows anything more about HR 875? I’ve tried finding current information and can’t find anything.

  7. Terry says:

    Hate it and the worst is when they then plant a flowerbed with colors that absolutely clash with the red dyed mulch.

  8. Patty says:

    I saw mulch for sale last weekend at a Home Depot. It was brown, but it wasn’t wood. It was a rubber or plastic material!

    1. Margaret says:

      Welcome, Patty. I have (shall we say) an “issue” with recycled tires and other such materials as mulch as I spout off about in my recent Mulch FAQ. Don’t get me started on the topic of releasing shredded NONbiodegradable bits of rubber into the environment that insects, birds, etc. live in/on (as do we). Ugh. See you soon again, I hope, yes?

  9. kgc says:

    I wish you’d posted this a few weeks ago! My beds were unmulched and I rushed out to cover them after reading how beneficial mulching could be. Bought the shredded bark mulch from the nursery thinking it would be just the thing (I was told the mulch from coconut hulls is toxic to pets who may ingest it). I didn’t realize the mulch had been dyed and thought the color would fade.

    Any solutions for how to “fix” an application of red bark mulch?

    1. Margaret says:

      Welcome, kgc. I did post the Mulch FAQ a week or two ago, but I guess it wasn’t as eye-catching as Andre’s doodle. :) (The FAQ covers the cocoa-hull topic, too, by the way; I agree with you on that one for sure.) I would hesitate to top off the red with another color because it will move around and show through, plus you could end up with too-deep mulch. Are you able/willing to rake most of it off and use something else, or would it just be easier to live with it, and let weather and time take the edge off it hopefully (make it fade a bit), and then cover it in the fall or next year?

  10. kgc says:

    I think I’ll let the mulch sit until next year. Hopefully my plants will grow larger soon and make it less noticeable. Thank you so much for all the information!

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