Are the RHS and Defra BARKING up the wrong tree

Chapter 2

Bark Mulch

What is  Bark  Mulch 

English: Aged mulch of coarse home compost Cat...

 Bark mulch is a byproduct of the forestry industry, making use of the bark stripped off timber that is being milled for lumber such as two-by-fours. Bark and green waste such as wood chips and branches are collected into a huge pile. The material is then put through a chipper to break everything down into similar sized pieces. The chipped green waste is then processed in an aeration system, or compost plant. The material is then partially composted. This begins the decomposition process of the material so that it is already on its way to forming a nutrient rich mulch for gardens and landscapes. Once the composting stage is complete, the bark mulch is processed through a screening plant Bark  mulch comes  in  several  shapes  and  sizes   two  of  the  most  popular  are  the  general  Amenity  mulch  made  from processed  mixed  conifers to  the  rich  small  nuggets  of  the  pine  mulch.


Contractors Turf

Pine bark  mulch .

This  According  to  Malcourt   or neat,small nuggets  giving  you  that  deluxe  and  high performance  and  that  rich reddish  brown.Like  all bark mulches it’s  is  biodegradable  which  mean  over  time  it  will  slowly  rot  down  into  the  soil  to  give  it  fibre  and  carbon.As  there  is  no  nutrients in  the  bark  it self  despite  what  other  tell  you   As  this  pdf  will  tell  you  bellow

Melcourt Soil ameliorates, compost and Topsoil Product Specification Guide

Also  another  thing  to  bare  in  mind  is  that  all  bark  mulches  are  very  acidic –  I  know  from  experience  that  my  clients  call  me  out  when  they  have  the  ‘  Butcher  Squad  ‘ there  words  not  mine  been  cutting  and  chipping  trees  down    and  spreading  the  wood chips  every  where without  knowing  the   consequences .

I  come  over  and  see  plants   dying cause  of  it.  So  if  you  want  to  Pine  bark  Mulch  or Any  Amenity  Mulch    down  think where  you  are  going  to  put  first.

Advantages  of Pine  Bark  Mulch


  • It is like  CocoPeat  it  biodegradable    over  a  period  of  3  yrs
  • Its  not  porous  &  that  means  it  soak  up  moisture   like  a  sponge   and  benefit  the  plants  roots  –  this  can  also  be  a  bad  thing  which  i  will  tell  you  later  on  how  to  work  around  this
  • its  a  natural  local  source  product
  • Pine  Bark  Mulch  because  of  it  colour  its  naturally   appealing
  • Pine Bark  Mulch or  any  mulch  in  fact  deters  slugs  and  snails

Disadvantages of  using Bark  Mulch 

  • Some bark mulches may be toxic to young plants, particularly if the bark is fresh or if it has been improperly stockpiled. Toxins can be leached from bark by heavy watering or evaporated by thorough aeration.Bark mulches are most likely to cause damage to plants if the mulch particles are small, if the mulch is particularly deep, or if high proportions of plant roots are in the surface layer of the soil.
  • If  the  heap  is  still  fresh  ie  in  the  state  of  decomposition then the  nitrates  its  produces  will  kill  of  the  fine  root  hairs or in  other  cases  it  will  cause  nitrogen  rubbery . Best  to  make  sure  that the  pile  is  well  &  fully  decomposed  or  buy  it  from  referable  supplier like  Melcourt
  • Make  sure  that  any  Free  bark  chips  are  free  from  pathogens  first  check  your  source  –  although  you  might  get  along  with  your  neighbour  or  arbour the  wood  might  pass  the  pathogens  on  to  your  stock.  You  wouldn’t  put  any  wood  chipping  that  came  from  your  tree  that  been  infected  around  your  new  stock  so  why  would  you  do  it  on  your  trees
  1. However  with  this  new  method  of  renewing  the  source  another  way  which  is  called  biochar  –  this  I  will  explain  in  chapter  3

Finally  I  come  to  the    Bark  Compost

Bark Compost

What is bark Compost 

Bark Compost is a renewable resource and is one of the most widely used components in commercial container media, although barks from many other species are also processed for this purpose.Bark particles used in container media generally range in size from dustlike to about 3/8 inch in diameter.




  • Bark lacks the moisture-holding capacity of peat moss, There  fore  its  free draining &  like  Biochar & coir  its  needs  to  pre soaked  for  a bout  a  day
  • As  I  mentioned  above  bark  alone  holds  no  nutriments at  all. So  best  either  mix it  up  with  your  compost  or  buy  it  from  the  store  that  has  it  already  mixed
  • but it can dramatically increase the porosity of a mix.


  •   Bark  cause  of  it  size  when  mixed  with  other  medium  will  increase  the  porousity  of  the  compost
  • It is  biodegrable  &  therefore  old  compost  can  be  put  into  compost  heaps to latter  be  dug  into  the  ground
  • If  its  mixed  with  shredded  leaves  in  autumn  and  placed  in  a  OPEN  compost  container  the  fungi  that  break  down  the  chipping  rot  the  down  the  leaves  too  to  make  leaf  mould  –  The  purpose  of  the  Open  container  is  to  allow  air  flow  threw  the  compost  and  moisture  from  the  rain  or  dew  to  activate  the  heap.

fungi  don’t  need  heat  to  live  only  the  damp  and  wet   conditions  like  a  typical  autumnal  day not  like  grass  cutting  that  need a  dry  condition  to  generate  heat

A successful container   potting medium  must  :-

  •  stable reservoir of moisture and nutrients and remain loose enough to allow for root development ,water movement and the exchange of gases in the root zone.
  • A growing medium must also have a pH (a measure of the alkalinity or acidity of a medium) that can support adequate nutrient uptake,
  • Be  virtually  sterile
  • Be  neutral  in  PH  depending  on  the  plant
  • The  Medium  should  supply  a  goog  anchorage  and  support  for  the  roots
  • must  be  heavy  enough  to  allow  anchorage


.If you have a good mix, water will penetrate it quickly and drain freely from the bottom of the pot. When the excess water has drained away, air will fill the large pore spaces, but enough water will be retained in the smaller spaces to provide ample moisture for the plant. In a poor mix, water may be slow to penetrate, the medium will become heavy and waterlogged, and a crust from algae or accumulated salts may form on the surface. Under these conditions, the roots become starved for oxygen, plant growth slows, foliage may begin to yellow, and plants often succumb to root rot.


With  this  taken  on  board  I would  definitely  choose  a  coir  based  compost  cause  with    bark  there  are  so  many  variables  either  you  over  water  or  you  under  water  ect

At  least  Coco  Peat  is  sterile  so  there  less  chance  of  getting  soil  borne  diseases  than  bark  si  there  a  less  thing  to  worry  about .  Off  couse  its  got  to  mixed and  soaked  before  hand   for  it  be  any  benefit

Well  thats  My  say  what  yours


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4 thoughts on “Are the RHS and Defra BARKING up the wrong tree

  1. Geoff

    I’ve always known about the positive aspects of mulch, but not really considered the possible negative side to it. Mulch certainly has a place in many gardens in slowing down the growth of weeds.


    1. spencerrichard01 Post author

      Yep that point is often over looked by many people Geoff.
      But it goes with other things well. Fresh manure contains too mush nitrates that will often kill the off the surface roots – if its steaming best to leave it until it dies down and weathered a bit


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