Tag Archives: Mulch

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




Enhanced by Zemanta

Weed control


In My 30 years  of  horticulture  I have  learnt that  there  are  several ways  to  control   weeds.    I said control because there is no way of  eliminating them.          You may think that by  putting a  mulch  down  will  solve  the  problem, I tell  all  My  clients  that the  mulch  will  only  stop  weeds  breaking  through  the  soil  if  the  layer  is  an  inch  thick  but that  wont  stop seeds that’s either   dropped  by  birds and  wind  settling  on  top  of  your  mulch .And  germinating

Not  longer  ago when  I  was  working for  Lambeth, We  used  to apply  a  weed  killer  called  Casron G. This  was  a  residual  weed  killer  that  stopped weed germinating ( a pre emergence ) in  there  tracks  but  unfortunately due  to  health  and  safety  this is  no  available  along with  it  Domestic  Counter part  Cover shield.

However there  is a  professional product  on  the  market  called  Kerb  which  does  the  samething  but  has  a  different  chemical.But  unfortunately  it  only  sold  to  professionals  and  not  to  the  general  public.

So I’m  going  to  take  you  through  the  ways  of  tackling  weeds .

Cultural  Method


When  hoeing  I’ll prefer  the  use  of  the  a  good  dutch  hoe  that  can  slice  through  the  weeds  with  ease.                                                                                                          Yes I  said  slicing  what  you  want  to  do  is  cut  bellow  the crown and  chop  off  any  vegetation.This  will  make  take  away  all  the  nutriment  from  the  plant  and  after several  retries (if you  keep on  top  of  it  the  roots  will  swivel  up  and  die  ) .Make  sure  that  if  you  hoed  up  the  young  seedlings  to  clear  the  surface  as  they   might  be  able  to  re-root  again.

when  hoeing  make  sure  that  its  in  dry  hot  weather  as  this  can  dry  up  any  roots  that  are  left  on  top  of  the  soil and  prevent  them  from re-rooting.

Propane  weed  gun 

weed  gun

Using a propane weed killer on a bed

This does  the  same  thing  as  hoeing  ie   removing  or  burning  the  foliage,which  is  then  brushed  away  and  disposed  of.


  • The  flame  can  reach  onto  the  weeds  with  out doing  permanent  damage to  the  barks  stem.
  • the  lighter  version available  make  it  easier  to  carry  and  direct  the  flame.


  • even  if  you  choose  the  lighter   version  of  it   the  propane  cylinder  might  not  last  long
  • it  is  not  all  that  cost  effective
  • storage  if  you   choose  to  buy  the  bigger  version   then  you  got  the  problem  of  storage
  • health  and  safety  rules  should  be  applied  as  these  canister  are  like  ticking  time  bombs  if  they  aren’t  stored  right
  • they  can  be  very  heavy  to  use  esp  the  bigger  ones   and  will  need  to  moved around  on  a  troley

Hand  weeding


  • The  finished  look  can  be  very  appeasing
  • Its  cheap  cause  there  no  equipment   to  be  used


  • when  you  pull  out  the  root   you  are  more  than  likely  to  leave  the  tap  roots  in  the  soil  to  re-root  again  although  the  vegetation has  been  removed  esp  with  the  cases  of  the  dandelions   and  burdocks   roots
  • it  can  be  time  consuming  and  laborious  esp  if  you  have  a  large  area to  cover
  • some  weeds  are  impossible  to  remove  esp.  if  there  are  in the  patio  and  growing  in  concrete  are  tarmac


For  a  mulch  to  be  effective  it  most  be at  least  1″  thick   and  not  leave  any  gaps where the  weds  can  grow  through .

The best  way  to  apply  a  mulch  is  to :-

  • weed  and  clear  the  site  first
  • water  the  surrounding  area  well  before applying
  • leave  a  small  gap  around  the    stem  of  the  plant   so  you  can  water it
  • DO NOT  USE  fresh  matter  ie  manure  or  wood  chipping   as  the  manure  will  rot  the  roots  of  the  plant   and  wood  chipping  have  toxins  that  kill  any  young  growth


  • If  you  got  a   site  right  at  the  bottom  of  the  garden that  you  don’t  look  at  or  allotment  site  which  needs  to  cleared   one   cheap  way  is  to  use  a  old  rug  or  carpet will  do
  • convert  it  upside  this  will  suppress  any  weeds  from    growing  up  cause  they  can’t  get  any  light  and  these  will  eventually  die
  •   an  black  membrane  is  ideal  as  temporary  mulch    esp  when  laying  a  slabs  or  turfs  in  a  small  garden .  The  sheets  are  made  to  allow  water  to  go  through  the  soil  and  stop    plants  from  growing
  • Also  You  can  use  it on   small  beds  by  covering    the  sheets  with  fresh new  soil
  • Manures  (well  rotten)
  • Compost –  tip  make  sure  the  peat  based  compost  is  well  wet. This will  bind  the  particles  together   and  act  like  a  thick  sheet
  • straw
  • decomposed  bark
  • stones with  Sheets or  carpets
  • basically  anything   that  can  block  out  the  light

But  as  I  mentioned  before    this  doesn’t stop  other  weed  growing  esp.  in  the  case  of   manures  and  compost  where  weed  seeds   are  dropped  by  birds and  wind

Chemical  Method

As  a  professional  gardener  I am  often  asked  to  weed   patio  and  drives   & like  I  said  before  weeding  by  hand  can  be  laborious. Therefore  I  would  apply  a  chemical  weedkiller  to  do  job  very  effectively   and  quickly.

However  with  the  growing  concern  for  the  environment  I’m  looking  into   other  ways  to  control  weeds using  the organic   approach

There  are  three  different  types  of  chemical  weed  killer  on  the  market  at  the present  and  its  important  to  know  what  to  choose  for  a  particular  job

  • A  contact  herbicide  like  diquat   where  the  plant  tissue  is   burnt  to  a  crisp  or  frazzled  up  is  ideal  for  annual  weeds  as  per annual weeds   have a  long  tap  root  that  needs  to   killed

However   a  constant  application  of  the  chemical  should  slow  the  plant  down  until it  dies  away .

  • Systemic:

    Systemic or translocated weedkillers are absorbed by

    plants and carried around the whole plant, including the roots.

    They are suitable for the control of both annual and perennial

    weeds but they do rely upon weeds being in active growth. They

    will thus be less effective and slow-acting if they are applied in

    periods of slow growth such as cold or drought.


Resolva weed killer

  • Selective:
    Some weedkillers contain active ingredients which will selectively control weeds with a certain type of growth habit without harming plants with a different growth habit. Lawn weedkillers will selectively control broad leaved weeds without damaging the grass. Selective weedkillers may be either contact or systemic in their mode of action. Most weedkillers currently available are non-selective – ie they will cause damage to cultivated plants, as well as weeds, so care must be taken when the weed killers are being applied.
  • Non residual These  weedkiller  are  ideal  if  you  intend  to  plant  in  the  same  spot as  the  chemical  leaves  permanent  traces  in the  soil these  are  often  known as  biodegradable

professional granule herbicide

  • Residual
    A residual weed killer remains active in the soil for several months or longer, depending on the product and climatic factors. While it continues to be active weed growth is prevented. Most residual weedkillers are used primarily in Combination Products (see later) for long term total weed control. These products should not be used near established plants or if the treated area is required for planting purposes in the short to medium term (check product label).
    There are residual weedkillers which can be used prior to planting and/or around gr
    owing plants. They are generally suitable for use around shrubs and woody plants and can be very useful for customers wishing to have a low maintenance garden or area, provided they are happy to grow only woody plants such as shrubs or roses.
    Combination Products:
    Several active ingredients with different modes of action are formulated together into one product.
    For instance a contact acting ingredient will control existing growth while a residual ingredient in the same product kills any germinating seedlings for several months. Examples are the path weedkillers
path  clear

path clear

Non organic

My  choice  and  many  others  is  mix   of  diquat  and  glyphoshate   weed  killer     d1quat  when  applied  as  single  solution  acts  like  the  propane   weed  killer  above  and  burns  the  leaves  to  a  crisp  whilst  glyphoshate  works  by  being  aborbed  through  the  leaves  and  then  killing  the  roots  making  sure  that  there  is  no  chance  of  the  weed  coming  back .

Although  it  takes  time  for  it  to  take  effect  there  is  some  serious  draw backs  in some  cases  lately it  has  been  reported  that  glyphosate  no  longer  kills  broad  leaf  weed .  whether  this  is  true  or  not  is  hard  to  say  as  i  havent  seen  anything  yet  that  tell  me  otherwise.

But What  I  do  know  is  that  after  several  yrs  or  months  the  weeds  are  back  on  the  drive .  So  that  why  Im  on  the  look  out  for  a  more  effective  way  of  controlling  weeds

However  if  you  still  wont  the   chemical  approach    here  are  list  of several   that have  the  mixture  mixed  up  all ready  for  you

  • 24hr weedaway
  • Resolva  products   path  and  patio  concentrate

Organic  weed  killers

Home brew  (not  yet  tested )

On My  research  for  a  better  weedkiller I  have  come  across  some  very  strange  remedies  :-

  1. Vinegar

Vinegar  is suppose to  burn  the  leaves  like  d1quat and  the  torch depleting  the  plant  of  its  sugar  to  promote  growth.

As I  said before  I  haven’t  yet  tried  this  out  So  I  can’t  really  give  judgement  on  it  but  what  I  gathered  from  the  forums that  it  only  draw  back is  that  it  has  to  be applied  during  hot  weather to  be  effective.

My  main  concern as  with  all  other  chemicals  man made  or  organic   is  what  effect  it has  the  soil .though  acetic acid  is  manufactured  ny  some  weed  killer  firms


Acetic acid herbicide

Although  the  instructions  claim  say  it  safe  i would  advise  all  the  safety  precautions  i  mentioned  in  my  blog  about  chemical  management  be  used  as  clearly  the  MSDS  document  on  acetic  acid  says  it  not                        Acetic acid  MSDS

Boiled water

This has  the  same  effect  as  above  if  you  ever  suffered  scalding  hot  water   on  your  skin  you  can  imagine  what  effect  it  will  have  on the  weeds. So  it  just  might work.

My  only  worry  is  :-

  1. Health  and  safety  of  it  you  have  to  extra  careful  not  spill  any  of  it  your  self  and  also  carrying  it  out  to  the  path  or  patio
  2. some  suggest  using  left  over  vegetable  water –  my  only  problem  with  that  is  that  salinity  of  it  might  too  much  for  the  soil  and  then  nothing  will  grow  cause  of  the  increase  of  salt  level .                And  then  there  the  run  off  into  our  drains .Although  most  of  the  waste  from  the  sink  goes  the  same  route


From  My  experience  and  knowledge    salt  kills  everything  by  osmosis  ie  the  concentartion  of  minerals  draws  the  less  minerals  from  the  plant  like  a  sponge thus killing  the  plant  with in  days.

This you  to   might  be  ideal  cause  its  safe  to  use  cheap  but  by  overdosing   every  time  you  see  a  weed  is  only  increasing  the salinity  in  the  soil  and  then  nothing  will  live  there  and  the  earth  will  become  sterile


For  best  results  it  best  to  water  the  weeds  first   in  dry  hot  weather  as  this  will  make  the  plants  more  acceptable  to  weed  killer

systemic weed killers based on glyphosate need between 4-6 hours without rainfall in order to be absorbed properly by weeds. If it rains in the interim, it may be necessary to give a further application. It is also a good idea to know what to expect in terms of weed control – systemic weed killers take longer to show the effects of control than contact weed killers and users often don’t realise this, so they may think the weedkiller isn’t workin