Red dye used in modern mulches is made from iron oxide, a material deemed safe for use around pets and humans. It can actually help your soil by adding small amounts of iron as the mulch decomposes. Organically dyed mulch typically uses vegetable dyes, which pose no harm to your garden.
Mulch is made of wood and as the wood begins to decompose it produces heat. When mulch becomes too dry, the heat can build until a fire begins from spontaneous combustion. Dark mulch can heat more rapidly than lighter colored mulches. "Mulch catches on fire because the sun dries it out," said John McCartney.
How to Choose Mulch for Your Landscape
- Cocoa Mulch. Chopped cocoa bean hulls add a rich dark color to landscapes — along with an exquisite, chocolatey smell that lasts two to three weeks.
- Straw. A favorite among vegetable gardeners, straw is the stalk of grain plants.
- Grass Clippings.
- Chopped Leaves.
- Mushroom Compost.
- Fresh Wood Chips.
- Pine Straw.
Most colored mulches are dyed with harmless dyes, like iron oxide-based dyes for red or carbon-based dyes for black and dark brown. Some cheap dyes, however, can be dyed with harmful or toxic chemicals. It can also be harmful to people spreading this mulch and animals who dig in it.
Sand, wood and rubber make mulches that experts recommend as safe for children's playgrounds. This mulch can be made of shredded wood or chipped bark, and it is heavy enough to stay in place on slopes in rain and wind. For flat, well-drained yards, you could safely use shredded or chipped cypress or pine.
Dyed Mulches. Dyed mulches are typically made from bark, wood chips or other wood by-products that have been artificially colored with a water-soluble dye or stain. Dyed mulches are available in a wide range of colors, including black.
Vigoro brown mulch is a 100% premium wood mulch that will protect and enhance your landscape with a natural, finished look. By creating a protective barrier around your plants and over soil, Vigoro mulch will help stabilize soil moisture, moderate soil temperatures, and protect plants from drying out.
Hardwood mulches are available in a number of custom colors, including yellow, pink, green and blue. However, the readily available colors at the local garden center are natural, brown, red and black. Hardwood mulches are basically wood chips, made up of wood waste and recycled pallets.
A. Mulch (such as bucketful, above, about to be spread) serves several purposes. It will not just suppress weeds and slow moisture evaporation, but should also break down into the underlying soil gradually and thereby improve the soil's texture. A layer of mulch helps moderate soil temperatures.
Dyed mulches (black, red, green and other colors) are usually (with few exceptions) made up of recycled wood waste. This trash wood can come from old hardwood pallets, old decking, demolished buildings or worse yet pressure treated CCA lumber.
Recent research, however, suggests that cedar actually helps rather than harms plants. In addition to the common mulch benefits of keeping down weeds, regulating soil temperature and reducing water evaporation, it emits chemicals that repel pests, fungus and bacteria.
Using hardwood bark mulch. Most people's gardens grow plants that prefer their soil neutral to sweet (alkaline). Hardwood bark mulch is the best for those plants. Plus, hardwood bark mulch is the best for amending your soil.
Most gardeners prefer biodegradable mulches, such as compost, grass clippings, leaves or straw, because they decompose into soil-building organic matter. In vegetable garden pathways or in orchards, sawdust and wood chips are hard to beat as perpetual mulches (see Use Wood Mulch to Build Great Garden Soil).
Kinds for best tomato care. Organic varieties include shredded leaves, straw, grass clippings, compost, newspaper, biodegradable weed mats, shredded hardwood, sawdust, and wood chips. Organic mulch is good for the soil.
Mulch may make a garden look tidy, but the work it does to improve the growing conditions for plants is what makes it most appealing. Those layers of bark or pine straw also improve soil texture, suppress weeds, and conserve water.
It's especially popular as a ground cover for playgrounds because of its soft and springy bounce. But it has been gaining ground in the garden as well. Rubber mulch is a recycled product, made of old tires that have been stripped of metal parts.
I've heard mulches made from ground-up tires could be toxic. But scientific literature makes abundantly clear that rubber should not be used as a landscape amendment or mulch. There is no question that toxic substances leach from rubber as it degrades, contaminating soil, plants and waterways.
Wood chips and pea gravel infill became typical sights at playgrounds. But over the years, recycled tire rubber -- both shredded and ground into round pieces -- has become popular. Federal and independent safety manuals, Hampton added, all point to rubber mulch as a safe surface for playgrounds.
Rubber plant's (Ficus elastica) common name does not imply that it is pliable. Its milky white sap contains latex, which was originally used to make rubber. Because this sap is poisonous to people and pets, rubber plant is best put out of reach of children.
Natural rubber wins over plastics with many positive attributes. It is entirely nontoxic and free of petroleum or heavy metals. The material is a renewable resource and is biodegradable. Furthermore, natural rubber does not leach any worrisome byproducts, which has been a major issue with plastics.