Mulch

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What type of mulch maintains its good looks the longest?

I will be setting up an Island around an Oak tree in the spring, and want to put a "better" looking mulch that looks good for a longer period of time.

Also, that will look good around a few Rose bushes.

Any suggestions?
 
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My preference is shredded cedar mulch. I don't much care for the chunky mulch of any type of wood because it gets kicked around too easily. Many garden centers will have a display area of what the different mulches look like so take a trip to one and check it out.
 
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I actually don't buy mulch from the store and sort of make my own. I have a compost bin, but after one year, the stuff in there doesn't completely decompose. Sure it smells like good soil, but there are always these wood pieces everywhere or hay looking things. Basically the compost that is made has a lot of still visible things in there. I plant my vegetable seeds and plants in the garden and then apply this soil on top. It takes about a month or two for the rest of it to actually dissolve and by then, my plants are in a healthy condition. The same thing works for my garden out in the front, except I don't apply as much. Also, for the weeds, I just pluck them right out of the ground while they are young.
 
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I actually don't buy mulch from the store and sort of make my own. I have a compost bin, but after one year, the stuff in there doesn't completely decompose. Sure it smells like good soil, but there are always these wood pieces everywhere or hay looking things. Basically the compost that is made has a lot of still visible things in there. I plant my vegetable seeds and plants in the garden and then apply this soil on top. It takes about a month or two for the rest of it to actually dissolve and by then, my plants are in a healthy condition. The same thing works for my garden out in the front, except I don't apply as much. Also, for the weeds, I just pluck them right out of the ground while they are young.

I am in Florida, any soil used will still get the weeds to come through. No matter how many times I pluck them out. I am trying to avoid that completely. I am going to add a sheet under the bed, for extra protection, and mulch on top to add more protection.

Thank you for the idea, it may work for me on a barrel decor, or long bed for flowers.
 
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I'm in Florida and I have lots of pine trees so I use pine needles as mulch around my trees and bushes. I use cardboard in a pinch, under a flower bed or as a liner for a path. Even layers of newspaper will help retard the weeds. It lasts one season at least. I've heard good things about the plastic sheeting for our heavy duty weeds, lol, but haven't used it myself. I mainly grow things in containers. I don't grow roses, so I don't know what works with those.
 
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I have been using cardboard for the last several years for creating and maintaining beds and walk ways. With a light covering of mulch (cedar, but your cheapest locally available is fine) The mulch is just to make it look good until the cardboard decomposes. It works great and I love it.

I cut holes in the cardboard to plant if it hasn't decomposed. Weeds, even huge areas of lawn and weeds have been smothered. The covered plants add compost to the soil with little effort. Worms are always plentiful after a short while. I do try to leave the cardboard and mulch undisturbed for several months so that the decaying/smothering process is well underway before planting. This hasn't always been convenient as I have moved perennials around. The weed suppression has always been superb.

Here is a photo of an old woodland bed that I have just redone for veggies since we took out some large filbert trees. Just did it this week. Still have some to do in the fore ground. It will be two beds with a walkway between.

Without this method there is no way I could have removed all the sweet woodruff and other ground covers in this area. Just be sure and use lots of boxes and overlap them really well. I get my boxes from work. The janitor likes not having to haul them out to the dumpster.

Some people suggest plastic. Overtime it breaks down, mulch on top turns to soil and you get weeds growing on top. Having had to pull that old plastic the broke and ripped with heavy dirt and weeds on top was the hardest job I ever had. With cardboard you just get to lay more down and remulch. Good luck
image.jpg
 
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I've used partially finished compost around trees for top dressing/mulch, but it tends to get weedy rather quickly for me. If you really want to help prevent weeds around established plants, some preen or a generic substitute (forget the name of it off the top of my head) will help stop seeds from germinating if applied under the mulch. That's what we put around beds before we mulch for work. The cardboard or weedmat will help kill weeds underneath it, but will do nothing to stop new airborn seeds (although, as mentioned earlier, they are then much easier to pluck out).
We got some cedar mulch a couple years ago, and the second year it still looked pretty good, although a lot of it was disappearing by the end of summer. I've also seen a real thick layer of hardwood bark mulch still look good a second year. If you really want to make sure it will stand up, get the dyed mulch that's guaranteed not to fade, as it has a lot of preservatives in it that prevent it from decomposing. The only way it will go away is as it sinks into the soil.
 
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I don't have any way to grind the material up so I am forced to buy it. I sculpt using wood from the forest and deadfall in the yard so I save up the shavings and chunks. By spring I generally have enough to mulch a small bed.
 
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Using compost as mulch doesn't require any sort of grinder, just a place to let the stuff sit and decompose, and turning it over from time to time...
If you didn't see in the other thread, I have been making some bark mulch this winter with just a hatchet and some patience. Locust has a thick bark that comes off pretty easy. I just peel it off and twist the larger chunks to break it down. When I have a couple full buckets, I dump it on the flower beds. I've got 2 beds completely done.
It does take a lot of time, though. I doubt I'll do it again, at least with wood that hasn't been seasoned, as bark comes off seasoned wood easier.
 
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The mulch in that picture is very nice.

I like the red mulch, although I'm not sure what it's called.

By the way, I completely understand you wanting to use mulch to get rid of weeds. That's what I want to use it for myself! I am definitely thinking about adding some mulch all around my house when it warms up a little bit.
 
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You can get free mulch if you tell a tree cutting company they can dump the mulch in your yard. They would appreciate you for it because it saves them gas money. The only problem is, if they dump pine mulch it will mess up you Ph balance and you have to get rid of a lot of mulch. But, it is great for those area's that you don't want to cut every year.
 
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I had thought about getting a chipper to use on the brush from when I cut trees for wood. Calling a tree service might be a better option... I may look into that... Be a lot easier than shredding a bunch of locust bark by hand...
 

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