black mulch landscaping

Using Black Mulch in Your Landscape

Why Black Mulch is the Best Mulch for Your Yard

Black mulch can be a great way to improve the look of your garden or landscaping designs, as well as to improve the health of your flowers, shrubs and plants. Black dyed mulch is actually regular mulch that is dyed to a black color using mulch dye that is safe for plants and the environment.

You can buy black mulch in bulk from companies that sell landscaping supplies or you can buy black mulch in bags from gardening retailers. However you buy black mulch, laying a layer of black dyed mulch in your flower beds can really give your garden a boost and make your plants pop.

black mulchBenefits of Black Mulch

The main benefits of black mulch are related to how they protect your plants, shrubs and flower beds. These benefits include:

  • Moisture retention – Black mulch (or any colored mulch for that matter) helps plants retain moisture. Any moisture that plants receive is shielded from evaporation by the layer of mulch that sits above the soil. This means that you have to water your plants and flowers less and it also means that if you go through some really hot or dry spells, your plants are better prepared to handle the unfavorable conditions.
  • Winter protection – Spreading some black dyed mulch in the fall is a great way to protect your plants throughout long, cold winters. The extra layer of mulch acts as a blanket to keep your plants from damage due to freezing temps in the winter.
  • Soil enrichment – Mulch is made from a combination of organic matter. This organic matter helps to enrich the soil and helps plants grow, even as the matter breaks down over time due to exposure to air, sun and water.
  • Aesthetic enhancement – Garden beds that have a layer of mulch spread over them are more attractive and look more well cared for than those that don’t. Black mulch is especially attractive in flower beds. The rich blackish color stands out against the lush green of the lawn and enhances the colors of plants and flowers.

Problems With Black Mulch

If you buy black mulch from a reputable landscape supplies dealer, you should have no problems at all. There can be problems with black dyed mulch however, so it is worth inquiring a bit about what is used to create the black mulch on sale at your local landscape supply store.

  • Chemicals – For one, make sure that the black mulch you buy is made from natural wood bark chippings and does not contain any type of pressure-treated wood, which can contain harmful chemicals. You also want to make sure that the black mulch dye used is made from natural and ecologically friendly ingredients and again, that there are no harmful chemicals in the dye. If either of these components contains chemicals, the chemicals can leach into the ground, ruining plants and negatively effecting ground water and the health of your soil.
  • Components – Be sure that you find out what components are mixed in with your black wood mulch to ensure that everything included is safe for the types of plants that you grow. All components should be natural and organic and should naturally decompose over time, adding to the richness of the soil below.
  • Fading – Depending on the type of black mulch dye used, your black dyed mulch can fade. All black dyed mulch will fade to some degree, but if your mulch fades too quickly or if it fades unevenly in sunny and shady locations, you will not be happy with the look of your new mulch for very long.
  • Heat – Black mulch retains heat more than lighter colored mulch. If you live in areas prone to excessive heat, you may prefer to choose a lighter colored mulch so that your plants remain cooler during the heat of the day.
  • Staining – Some of the black mulch dye used to stain the wood in mulch to its rich black color can come off and stain surrounding areas when the mulch gets wet (such as when it rains). If natural, water-based mulch dye is used, the effects of any mulch dye should not be permanent, but if the dye is not water soluble, you may find some staining occurring on surrounding areas, such as walkways, driveways or exterior siding.

Types of Black Mulch

In addition to black wood mulch or black cedar mulch (the most common types), you can also buy black mulch made from rubber or other synthetic materials. Black rubber mulch is best used in areas such as playgrounds for added cushioning beneath the equipment, rather than in flower beds.

This all depends on your aesthetics and overall landscape design.

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