Mulch is a gardener's best friend. It helps retain moisture,keep weeding down,and can add organic matter to the soil. Garden centers sell it by the pallet, and customers can never seem to get enough.There are also sources for free mulch such as landfills,from our own trees,and generous neighbors. So, the decision regarding where to get your mulch involves some consideration.To help weigh the options, I consulted Dave Linvell,an agent for the Chatham County Extension Service. I wanted to know whether concerns over fungus,bugs,or weeds were warranted when taking mulch from the Wilmington Island dump and other similar places?
Dave points out that it is not a yes or no question. As an informed agent of the County Extension, he acknowledges that the previously mentioned concerns are a possibility, but adds,"I use it all the time without a problem. If those situations were to arise, they could easily be addressed." He continued by saying that the mulch at the dump is free, and equivalent organic matter purchased in the store can be expensive.
I agree with Dave that if any bugs,weeds,etc. were to occur,it could be handled pretty easily. It is my experience that customers often have uninformed fears about bugs in particular.What must be understood is that just the presence of bugs does not mean that they are a danger to plants or humans. Examples are some ants,earth worms,Lace Wings,and Ground Beetles. Even roaches have their place in garden.
As far as the search for mulch goes, it is ultimately a personal preference. One might choose the free mulch and spend their gardening budget on more plants. Others might prefer the look of dyed mulch. Still, others might choose rock. The goal is to make an informed decision. When applying any mulch, make sure not to smother the stems and trunks of plants. This can trap moisture and lead to problems with rot.
Thanks for writing! -Christine