Is Colored Mulch Bad For My Plants

Mulching is a very popular practice among a majority of gardeners. Typically, mulching releases nutrients that improve the quality of the soil.

At present, there are different types of mulches you can use in your garden. However, gardening professionals always advise using natural mulch. Natural mulch contains 100% organic ingredients.

Thus, it is non-toxic to the plants. On the flip side, dyed mulch offers exceptional aesthetics but may contain harmful chemicals that ruin the plant. So, does this mean that colored mulch is bad for your plants?

Not all dyed mulch is bad for your plants. Therefore, before purchasing any mulch type, ensure you check all the ingredients used to make the mulch. Always consult a gardening professional on this.

They will always help you find the best mulch alternative to suit your needs. Moreover, keep in mind that your requirements determine the best mulch option for you.

Is Colored Mulch Toxic?

Contrary to popular belief, not all colored mulch is bad for your plants. A good percentage of dyed mulches contain iron oxide to give them a red-brown shade.

Iron oxide dyes are not harmful to plants. So, mulches that contain this chemical are not toxic to the plants. Nevertheless, there are colored mulches that are toxic to the plant.

So, how do you identify toxic mulch?

More often than not, toxic mulch is underpriced. If you think that the price of the mulch is too good to be true, think twice about your purchase decision. You would rather spend more on quality mulch.

The cause for concern in colored mulches often results from wood and not the dye. Generally, most dyed mulches come from recycled wood. Occasionally, recycled wood contains chromates copper arsenate (CCA).

This chemical destroys soil life and poses a danger to human health. In fact, it is not safe to handle this chemical directly without a protective garment. Chromates copper arsenate (CCA) also puts your pets and domestic animals on the farm.

Safety of dyed mulch in the garden

Dyed mulch improves the soil’s water retention and safeguards plants from harsh external conditions. Nevertheless, dyed mulch is not beneficial to soil life. Also, dyed mulch does not add nitrogen to the soil.

Usually, dyed mulch takes longer to decompose into the soil, unlike natural mulch. Therefore, it would be best to use natural mulch if you want to boost healthy plant growth.

Consider using pine needles and cedar mulch. But note that natural mulch has a lower aesthetic value compared to dyed mulch. Ultimately, before purchasing mulch, understand its pros and cons. But be careful not to overlook functionality over aesthetics.

Does black mulch attract termites?

A good percentage of gardeners use mulch to prevent soil erosion and improve the quality of the garden soil. Even so, gardeners report that mulch attracts termites sometimes.

The main reason why mulch is often associated with termites is that it comes from wood. Remember, termites feed on wood cellulose. Thus, you are likely to find these eusocial insects in mulch.

Typically, termites live underneath the soil and depend on moisture and nutrients from cellulose for survival. Termites become a problem when they get into buildings.

These insects are popularly known as ‘silent killers’ since they can cause a lot of damage over time that may go unnoticed. At the end of the day, termites can destroy an entire building.

Does mulch attract termites?

Spreading thick mulch over the soil creates the perfect environment for termites to thrive. Thick mulch offers the ideal shade for termites to grow.

A thick layer of mulch promotes the accumulation of moisture and heat under the soil. As a result, it draws termites, spider mites, small rodents such as gophers and other pests to the area.

Nonetheless, this is not always the case. Some mulch types do not encourage termites around the area. For instance, cypress mulch repels termites because it contains certain resins that termites don’t like.

Also, cedar mulch has a specific chemical that puts off termites away. Currently, the best termite-resistant mulch is melaleuca wood. So, consider using it in your garden.

Using mulch correctly

Use mulch appropriately to prevent termites from infesting your building. When applying mulch, always make sure it does not touch any sides of the building and the door frame.

Maintain a distance of six inches from surfaces when applying mulch. Spread gravel in between the spaces to offer maximum protection to your buildings. Below, we look at some of the ways to prevent termites in mulch.

Use termite-resistant mulch:

As mentioned earlier, some types of mulch do not encourage termite infestation. Some of them include cedar and cypress mulch. Consider using these types of mulch to protect your garden and buildings from termites.

Apply mulch correctly:

When applying mulch, there are certain practices you need to incorporate. Generally, you need to avoid spreading the mulch near buildings. Also, consider laying gravel between the mulch and the facility to prevent termite infestation.

Consult a gardening professional on the best ways of applying mulch to your garden.

Water the mulch appropriately:

Moist areas attract termites to the mulch. Mulch needs frequent watering since it works best when moist. So, it would be best to lay a barren or any other dry material around the fertile soil.

This way, water won’t penetrate underneath the soil; and this will keep off termites from the garden. Gardeners should avoid leaving any standing water in the mulch.

Additionally, ensure your mulch receives proper aeration at all times to prevent it from becoming soggy.

Consider natural pesticides:

If you want to keep off termites from your mulch, use natural pesticides. Good examples of natural pesticides are natural oils and juices.

Citrus can repel termites from your mulch. Avoid using synthetic pesticides. This is because they may contain toxic chemicals that are harmful to your plants.

Monitor the mulch: At the end of the day, you have to make sure you monitor the mulch from time to time. This way, you’ll identify any problems in the mulch and fix them immediately. So, stay vigilant to make sure your mulch stays healthy.

What color mulch fades the least?

Over the years, dyed mulch has become a popular option among most homeowners. This is because dyed mulch retains its color longer compared to natural mulch.

Dyed mulch comes in different colors; they include black, brown, and red. Dyed mulches often contain iron oxide; hence, they do not lose their color quickly like natural mulch.

Regular vs. dyed mulch

On average, normal mulch keeps its color for approximately two to three months. Afterward, it starts becoming grey, especially after getting exposed to the sun.

Consequently, regular mulch does not maintain exceptional aesthetics in your garden. Nevertheless, note that normal mulch is way cheaper compared to dyed mulch. Although dyed mulch is costly, it offers value for money.

Can the mulch dye rub off?

Once it gets dry, the dye in the mulch does not rub off. So, give dyed mulch some time to dry before selling it if you are a manufacturer.

When the dye is not dry, it can rub off on surfaces and hands. However, note that the dye rubs off quickly on chipped hardwood. But it does not wash off easily on shredded mulches.

If you are applying dye to the mulch, do it on a sunny or dry day. So, check the weather forecast to ensure there’s no expected rain for the next few days. When rain falls on freshly manufactured dyed mulch, it will wash off all the dye. The color in mulch should set for a few days before you expose it to water.

Is brown mulch better than black?

As mentioned earlier, mulch comes in different colors. Mulch can possess either a brown or black color. Both black and brown mulch offers distinctive benefits. So, before settling for one option, ensure you analyze the pros and cons of each.

Brown mulch vs. Black mulch

  • Fading:

Unlike standard mulch, both black and brown mulch do not fade quickly. Thus, they retain their color for a long time. Regular mulch turns color when exposed to the sun after two months.

This makes dyed brown and black mulch more cost-effective and appealing to most gardeners. Dyed black and brown mulch, therefore, keeps your garden appealing for an extended period.

  • Price:

More often than not, black and brown mulch cost the same. There is very little cost difference between these two mulch types. Needless to say, prices may vary depending on the manufacturer. Both black and brown mulch cost approximately $2 per 2 square cubic feet.

  • Appearance:

Brown mulch looks chocolate brown in your garden, while black mulch will resemble dark-colored soil. The better mulch color between the two depends on your preference.

Luckily, both types of mulch will offer a naturalistic view in the yard. Also, both mulches provide a good contrast for ‘green’ backyards. Regardless of the mulch you choose, ensure it complements your yard.

Nonetheless, if you want an excessively natural color in your yard, brown mulch works best for you.

Best mulch to use in your garden

Ultimately, dyed mulch is not bad for your plants. Nevertheless, ensure you check all the products used to make the mulch before applying it to your garden. Usually, the best mulch to use purely contains organic ingredients.

At present, there is a wide range of mulch types. The one you choose often depends on your requirements. Some of the most common mulch types are brown and black mulch.

Each of these mulch types offers unique pros and cons. So, consult a gardening professional on the best type of mulch to use.