What Does Recycled Mulch Have That Cedar Mulch Doesn’t?

The short answer is BUGS. Yes bugs …but not the people-friendly kind. Bugs like roaches, termites, slugs, artillery spores, carpenter ants, etc. You may ask why are these types of bugs attracted to this recycled mulch and not cedar? More on the beneficial affects of cedar later, but for now let’s talk about the “OTHER” types of inexpensive mulches on the market that can come in bag or bulk offerings.

One of the primary sources for recycled mulch is from wood pallets. Frequently the greatest source for used pallets comes from the food industry. Many times food products still remain and get trapped in the cracks and crevices of pallets. That food source provides an optimal nutrition source for bugs such as termites and roaches.

Other sources for recycled mulch comes from landscapers who are taking down diseased trees from customer’s yards or just other industries looking to get rid of hazardous materials such as plastic, floor tiles, sheet metal, etc. They need to dispose of this material and the recyclers are only too happy to take this source for free, and sometimes even charge the landscaper/industrial hauler to take it. This type of mulch can have things such as PCB’s, arsenic, termites, roaches, carpenter ants, snails, moths, fleas, bed bugs, slugs, etc. Then these suppliers mix up these choice items listed above with other types of wood and deliver it to your door in bulk trucks or you can drive to local mass merchants and pick it up in a bag.

When these BUGS are done feasting on the food source left over from ground up pallets, what do you think is their next food source going to be? Lets see!! Well there is a deck over there …and a kitchen over there. You get the picture. Whenever I think about recycled mulch, whether it is bulk or bag, I think about the TV commercial for the roach motel. The big difference here is that roaches, termites, carpenter ants, etc. check into YOUR roach motel but they never leave. In fact they invite all their relatives to come over and party. You have basically provided them not only with a home but with a free all you can eat buffet.

Well now that I have put the “fear of mulch” into your brain I can tell you about some excellent choices to protect your home and family while also helping your plants and improving your landscape. When it comes to mulch, cedar will always be your best choice. It is well documented that cedar has always been resistant to bugs. (Read more about this) Other advantages of cedar are: it is long lasting; will not easily wash away; prevents weeds from forming; as well as a pleasant smell and appearance (Read more about this).

Decorative gravels are also another choice for the homeowner but not a good choice if you have young children or animals (Read more about this).

There are other types of virgin hardwood mulches available to homeowners but it is best to buy them in a bag because then you know what you are getting. Some other mulch choices would be pine, hemlock and cypress. But whatever your choice, I urge you to “just say no” to the inexpensive mulch bags that just say MULCH on them. You might save some money on the short end but are you willing to take the risks of what is in that unknown mulch being laid out on your landscape?