common questions about mulch manufacturing
What is colored mulch?
Colored mulch is wood, usually scrap wood or recycled wood product, that is colored with iron oxide or carbon-based pigment dispersions to attain a uniform, attractive, long-lasting appearance.
Is colored mulch safe?
Amerimulch® is very careful to use only safe and environmentally friendly materials in our colorants. Consumers and landscapers should have no special worries about handling colored mulches any differently than they handle regular mulches.
Mulch producers need to be following standard regulations that cover every worksite that has any chemicals present, such as OSHA rules, storm water discharge rules, and local fire prevention rules that may limit the heights of mulch piles. Mulch producers also need to check with the local business permitting agencies in their local districts to see if local regulations impose any special requirements on them. Producers also need to be concerned about not only the local regulations that they need to comply with, but also with the actual wood fiber that is in the mulches they produce. They need to take steps to avoid “CCA-treated wood,” which is wood that is weatherproofed with a particular chemical process involving the chemicals chromium and arsenic. These chemicals may pose environmental dangers, and are currently being phased out of production by wood manufacturers. While there is conflicting data on whether CCA-treated wood truly poses any health risk to humans, there is no reason for any mulch producer to take chances in their manufacturing process.
How long does the coloring last?
The color value is designed to last a full “mulch season” when applied properly to wood fiber. A mulch season generally means from spring to fall. The color itself does not wash off or wear away – but weather and exposure to ultraviolet light actually deteriorate the surface of the wood itself, so there will be less visible colorant over time.
Does the coloring stain sidewalks, driveways or clothes?
Mulch colorants are similar to a wood stain. When dry, it bonds to the wood surface – but until properly dried, the color can rub off and bond to the surface it dries on. Before laying mulch that might still be wet on a driveway or sidewalk, lay down a tarp. It’s a good idea to water the driveway or sidewalk before and after dumping the mulch so that any color that does get on the surface has less chance to dry. Then, while it is still wet, use soap, water and a broom to brush up any remaining color.
Do the colors wash off or run?
The color is locked on once the colored mulch is dry, just as a coat of paint locks onto a surface once it dries. However, most producers simply stack up the mulch onto large piles, which keeps the middle of the pile moist. When mulch from that area of a pile is loaded, it may still be wet, leading to driveway stains or other inadvertent messes. That’s why it’s important to inform the end-customer on the proper precautions and handling techniques.
Does the color hurt my plants?
No. The major pigment components are iron oxide (rust) and carbon. These are present to various degrees in all soils and pose no added risk to most plants. Of course, some plants are extremely sensitive to any change in environment — a landscaper will know which these are and will be able to recommend proper environmental controls for them.
How do I know how much mulch I need?
Mulch is sold by the cubic yard. A typical application is between 2 and 3 inches deep (any deeper and there can be problems with plant diseases, fungi and so on). A cubic yard will provide between 12 and 18 square yards of surface coverage. Each square yard is nine square feet. Measure the area you want to cover by multiplying (in feet) the length and width, and divide that by nine, and divide that by 12. That’s how many square yards of mulch you want to buy.
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