Most homeowners understand the importance of using bark mulch. It conserves moisture, controls weeds and prevents erosion. It also improves soil granulation and aeration. Guess you could think of it as life-supporting connective tissue between your plant material, trees and turf.

I tried to explain this concept to a homeowner who was having a beautiful landscape installed. From stunning wild date palms to sparkling water features, she had spared no expense.

But when it came to the subject of mulch, she dismissed it as “window dressing” and said a friend of a friend would be delivering a bulk load from “some place nearby.” I suspected right then that she didn’t know junk mulch even existed — that it might contain yard waste or fiber from waste streams.

So I told her as much. Not all mulch is made of bark. It can contain wood material contaminated with construction materials such as nails or plastic. Sometimes it’s shredded from wooden pallets or trees toppled by hurricane winds. Even worse, it can be created by clear-cutting forests (which are rarely replanted properly). This “green waste” mulch is made from young trees just 10 inches tall, ground vines and every other kind of foliage you can think of. What a waste!

The woman took in everything I said, and for a moment, I thought she had decided against buying generic bulk mulch. But she just shrugged her shoulders. “I already ordered my mulch and I’m not going to lose any sleep over my one little job being responsible for tearing down an entire forest,” she laughed.

She was right, of course. Her one little job won’t destroy a forest. But there are a zillion “one little jobs” out there, which I’m sure she’d still find irrelevant to her life. All I can say is that when her junk mulch decomposes, who knows what it will put back into the ground.

Maybe her one little job will help you make a wise decision on your next landscape renovation.


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