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Frequently Asked Questions


  1. Are mulch colorants safe?
  2. Is arsenic present in my mulch?
  3. Is cypress mulch sustainable?
  4. Does mulch attract termites?
  5. When do I apply mulch, and how much should I use?

Are mulch colorants safe?

Current investigations indicate that mulch colorants pose no threat to people, pets or the environment. The dyes currently used by the mulch and soil industry are similar to those used in the cosmetic and other manufacturing industries (i.e., iron oxide) and pose no health or environmental risk.

Is arsenic present in my mulch?

Treated wood such as Construction & Demolition (C&D) material can sometimes contain CCA (Copper Chromated Arsenic). According to federal law these materials cannot be ground up and used in mulch. The MSC Certification program tests products for CCA. All MSC certified products must pass chemical testing for CCA.

Is cypress mulch sustainable?

The Mulch & Soil Council supports the continuing efforts of the Forest Products Industry to develop and enforce Best Management Practices (BMPs) for loggers and landowners that recognize and promote sustainable forest management.

Currently in Louisiana, cypress forests are growing six times faster than trees are being harvested with 400,000 new cypress trees planted each year and even more naturally regenerated. Cypress trees are not being cut in areas such as flooded swamps where they will not regrow.

Most harvested cypress is sold to sawmills. The by-products from these sawmills are sold to the mulch industry to deal with the disposal of their debris. If landowners cannot market their waste and by-products for mulch, more waste will be left in the forest as a fire hazard or landowner costs for disposal will increase while overburdening landfills for local government.

Does mulch attract termites?

Mulch itself does not attract termites. Termites prefer a cool, moist environment. The purpose of mulch is to cool the ground and maintain soil moisture. Mulch can create a suitable environment for termites that already exist in the soil, which can sometimes bring them to the surface and make termites noticeable.

For more information on insects in mulch, please review the information below:

Report from Kansas State University Cooperative Extension Service

When do I apply mulch, and how much should I use?

Mulch perennial and shrub beds in spring, but not until after the soil has a chance to warm and dry a bit. Take note of areas where you want biennials and other self-sown plants to have a chance to do their thing; mulching these too soon may prevent successful reseeding.

You want a 2- or 3-inch layer. About half of that will work into the underlying soil before you go to replenish it in fall or the next spring.

Keep the mulch a couple of inches away from trunks of trees and shrubs; never pile it up, volcano-like, against them, as that can invite pests and diseases.

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