Southeastern Massachusetts Gardening: The Truth About Mulch

Southeastern Massachusetts Gardening: The Truth About Mulch

truth-about-mulchHomeowners that do any amount of gardening in the South Coast region, are very likely quite familiar with mulch and its benefits. However, there are many misconceptions about mulch, the quality of the mulch that is available locally, and what you are actually getting when you purchase mulch from a “big box” home improvement store. The goal of this article is to educate Southeastern Massachusetts homeowners on the advantages of choosing quality mulch, as well as the difference between pure pine bark mulch, premium hemlock mulch and other common types of materials used in this area. We will also identify where to get the best landscaping products that can be used for this purpose.

The Truth About Cheap Bags of Mulch
When you purchase those cheap bags of mulch, which typically go on sale at 3 for $10 at your local hardware or gardening center, you are getting a lot more than the pine, hemlock or other materials that you think you are buying. One of the hard truths about mulch is that most commercial varieties that are sold under popular, well-known names are not made from pure pine bark mulch or other pure sources, but are a mix made from lesser-quality materials.

MULCH FACT #1: The “wood” material that is found in most commercial mulch is made from reclaimed wood that is found at recycling centers or landfills, such as pallets, boxes, crates and other warehouse or shipping materials. So what you end up with is not a pure, natural, organic mulch, but a sort of Frankenstein mulch that includes bits and pieces of actual pine and other “wood” that gets mixed in as filler. The shredding quality also leaves much to be desired, resulting in uneven shavings that produce inconsistent results.

Whether you are looking for gardening tips in Seekonk, Bourne, New Bedford, Fall River or anywhere else in the northeastern region, your best bet is to forgo those bags of mulch and choose a more reputable source for your landscaping materials. True pure pine bark mulch made from white pine that is made into a quality, double shredded mulch will out-perform, out-last and look better longer than any bagged mulch you can buy from the hardware store.

The Truth About Colored Mulch
Another option that many homeowners consider for their garden is the use of colored mulch. Some mulch is “colored” naturally through a process known as “cooking,” while other mulch is dyed to be a certain color. Mulch that is colored naturally may vary from batch to batch, depending on the time of year that you purchase it from your local landscaping supply company. For example, new shipments of mulch that have been brought in to be sold in the middle of summer probably won’t be the same color as mulch that has been purchased in spring that has “cooked” all winter long.

MULCH FACT #2 – The pure pine bark mulch sold at J&J Materials in Seekonk and in Bourne is a mixture of bark made from spruce, fur and white pine trees. The bark gets shredded to a consistent size and is, in fact, double shredded mulch to ensure proper sizing. This product is brought to the J&J Materials yard in the late fall and is then covered and allowed to “cook” throughout the winter months until it becomes a beautiful, brown color. This dark brown color is natural and not dyed or enhanced in any other way.

Other types of popular mulch, such as the deep, red mulch that is seen throughout the region and is featured frequently in gardening tips in Seekonk, Dartmouth, Providence and on out to the Cape, get their color from dye. These products can be made from hardwood or softwood, such as pine, spruce, fur, hemlock and other materials. Dyed red mulch is made from scrap wood and is chipped and shredded to a consistent size before it is color enhanced. This type of mulch is frequently used as filler for flagstone pathways, borders and other residential landscaping projects.

The Truth About Top Quality Mulch
Out of all the types of double shredded mulch and other mulching products sold at J&J Materials, premium hemlock mulch is by far the highest quality mulch available. It is made from 100 percent hemlock that has been color enhanced to ensure that the rich, red color remains beautiful throughout the entire gardening season. Like all of the other mulch materials available at J&J Materials, the premium hemlock mulch is made from a fine, double shredded mulch blend and is available year-round.

MULCH FACT #3 – Another benefit to choosing premium hemlock mulch is that it is highly acidic and has a unique, natural odor that helps it to deter bugs from the garden. However, it is important to note that because of its acidity the premium hemlock should be used carefully when mulching certain types of flowering shrubs or trees that feed on the acid in soil, unless used with an acid neutralizer.

Another option is to use aged hemlock, which is also a double shredded mulch that is the same as the premium hemlock mulch. The only difference is that with aged hemlock, no color enhancers are added. The color change comes from aging or “cooking” the mulch to allow it to darken over time. It still retains the bug deterring odor and is available in a dark red to brown color, depending on the amount of time that it has aged.

Where to Get Quality Mulch in Southeastern Massachusetts
One of the best gardening tips in Seekonk, or anywhere else in the region, is to visit J&J Materials for the best quality double shredded mulch in the South Coast area. With a delivery range that spans most of Southeastern Massachusetts and includes Rhode Island, J&J Materials can provide you with the type of mulch you need in the quantity that you require to help create a beautiful, healthy garden or landscape for your home. Stop by and visit to see the different colors and varieties of pure pine bark mulch, premium hemlock mulch and other options available for residential, commercial and municipal customers.

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