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DYED MULCH
Brown, red and black mulches

 

A trend that emerged in Pennsylvania landscapes in the early 21st Century was using dyed mulch in landscape beds. Brown, red and black were the most commonly used colors around shrubs. More and more landscape clients began requesting dyed mulches. Why? Because they hold their color longer and don't fade out by losing their color as fast.


REGULAR vs. DYED MULCH
Regular shredded mulch is less expensive (30% to 40% cheaper) but fades to a gray color after just one or two months in the sun. Colored-mulches hold their color throughout the year, and often into the next year, with minimal color loss. This provides better value to the landscaping client.
  
HOW IS WOOD MULCH DYED?
Regular shredded mulch is loaded into a hopper on a large, trailer mounted, mulch dyeing machine, like the one seen in the photo below. Liquid colorant from 55-gallon drums was mixed with water and sprayed on the mulch as it passed through the machine. The brown colored mulch then travels up a conveyor belt to a stockpile.
  

Dye machine for mulch

In this photo you can see the mulch dyeing process:

1. Regular mulch is stockpiled to the rear of the machine.
2. A bucket loader dumps regular mulch into the hopper.
3. Colorant is mixed with water and sprayed onto the mulch.
4. Dyed mulch travels up a conveyor onto a stockpile.


IS THE COLORANT SAFE?
The colorant product used on the mulch above is formulated to be non-toxic to animals and plants. Check with your mulch supplier for complete details when ordering.
   

WILL THE DYE RUB-OFF?
The colorants tend to "set" once the mulch is spread-out and dry. Up until that point, colorants can rub-off on hands, clothes and pavement (it washes off 'chipped' hardwood mulches more easily than shredded mulches). It's recommended that you work with freshly dyed mulches on a dry day, when there is no rain in the forecast.
  

DOES MULCH ATTRACT INSECTS?
Insects will favor a moist environment that's close to your house whether the mulch is wood, stone, or otherwise. Some recommendations call for insecticide applications around the foundation of your home to ward off destructive insects. Other recommendations call for no mulch (of any type) right next to the foundation, for a distance of several feet. Most professional pest applicators recommend using baits for ant problems, but always read and follow label directions.
  

ANY OTHER RECOMMENDATIONS?
As with other wood-based mulches, you should fertilize the plants in your shrub bed with a nitrogen fertilizer before applying your mulch. This will counteract nitrogen depletion in the soil which occurs when wood mulches breakdown.
  


MORE

Mulches

Landscape mulch

How mulch is made

 

  

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