Mulch has been proven to provide a myriad of benefits to your landscape. It reduces the amount of soil runoff and prevents weeds from taking over. Appearance-wise, mulch helps make the garden bed look more attractive and uniform.
You have probably seen dyed or colored mulch in other people’s yards. The most popular colors are black, brown, and red. Dyed mulches can be very aesthetically pleasing, but the question is: are they safe for your lawn and plants? Continue reading to learn more about the effects of this landscaping product.
Where Did Dyed Mulch Come From?
Most traditional mulches are made directly from trees. On the other hand, dyed mulches usually come from old hardwood pallets. These are from recycled wood like wood scraps, decks, and wood reclaimed from construction and demolition (C&D) waste.
Dry wood waste is ground into chips. Then, these scrap materials are dyed with iron oxide and carbon to produce some color. Aside from this, you can buy dyed mulches that are organic and vegetable-based.
Some scrap wood and lumber are treated with heavy metals like chromium, arsenic, and copper. These chemicals are used to preserve the wood and make the mulch last longer.
Harmful Effects of Dyed Mulch
You might be wondering about the effects of dyed mulch on your landscape. Let’s discuss the potential dangers of colored mulch to people, animals, and the soil.
Potential Soil Contamination
Contrary to its main purpose, the dyed mulch does not enrich the soil. When it breaks down, the dye and toxic contaminants will leach into the soil. These chemicals will remain in the soil for a long time and affect plants negatively. Unlike natural mulches, they don’t add beneficial bacteria and nitrogen to the soil. Instead, they steal nitrogen from soil during the decomposition process. Dyed mulches are not recommended if you have young plants in your landscape.
Slower Breakdown Rate
Organic mulch decomposes over time to add nutrients to the soil. Within three years, it will completely degrade. Treated wood chips take longer to fully break down. Since dyed mulch breaks down slower than usual, it fails to provide its intended benefits.
Washed-off dye from the mulch may seep into groundwater and cause contamination. In the long run, these chemical agents will get lost in the environment and result in pollution of the surroundings. Harmful chemicals at high levels can greatly affect human health. Long-term health problems might not appear until months or years after the exposure.
Before these contaminants reach the surface water, choose alternatives to dyed mulches like pine needles or cedar mulch. If you still want to use dyed mulch, consult with a professional today.
Toxic When Burned
Anything that is burned gives off some byproduct, which may or may not be harmful. Dyed mulch is an example of a product that is toxic when burned. Some dyed mulch comes from wood chips that have been treated with chromated copper arsenate (CCA). This substance can kill off soil bacteria and earthworms that are good for your lawn. In addition, pressure-treated wood chips can be harmful to animals who dig in them.
When your mulch is from pressure-treated wood, do not burn them. Never burn CCA wood because the wood preservatives will release toxic chemicals into the air. This can be extremely dangerous when inhaled by you and your family. Exposure to the ash dust can cause the following:
- Hair Fall
- Extreme Fatigue
- Severe Nosebleeds
- Chronic Respiratory Diseases
Precautions to Take When Using Dyed Mulch
- Do not buy mulch that’s made from CCA-treated wood.
- Wear garden gloves when handling dyed mulch.
- Keep your pets away from areas covered with colored mulch.
- Build a backyard fence to keep your furry friends safe.
Call Us for Top-Notch Mulching Services
At Midstate Landscaping, we only use 100% natural and organic mulch. Our landscapers can add a pop of color to your landscape without the harmful effects of dyed mulch. When you work with us, we will retain moisture and nutrients in the soil using top-of-the-line products. You may count on us for backyard mulching, fertilization solutions, and even winter mulching services.
To learn more about what we do, contact us today. Let us do the dirty work for you!