Soooo … earlier this spring I had a HUGE freshly chipped mulch pile to deal with. And now, well, I still have a relatively fresh mulch pile to deal with – okay, maybe it’s a little smaller. Honestly, I thought I would have this mulch pile tackled by now (eek).
There is much controversy over using freshly chipped mulch in your planting beds. The argument is that the breakdown of the wood chips results in a nitrogen depletion and turns the soil acidic which in turn depletes your plants. Newly chipped mulch should be aged and turned for at least a year. BUT, I have also read freshly chipped mulch is okay as long as it does not mix in anyway with the soil, that trees and well established perennials may be considered immune, though annuals and vegetables are definitely taboo. I would love to do a test but well, where do I find the time with all that mulch to move?
I have spread this mulch around my trees and shrubs – young trees and shrubs – and so far, see no ill side effects. I have also spread this mulch around newly edged beds of perennials without consequence. I have even smothered young perennials and they have shot up through the fresh mulch without harm – i.e. Lady’s Mantle. I tried to smother some inherited Bishop’s Weed on purpose hoping that the new mulch would do harm, but well, that Bishop’s Weed is thriving *#!. My conclusion? Use freshly chipped mulch on your established perennials, trees, shrubs but hold back on annuals, vegetables, tender young plants and special specimens.
Mostly I am using this mulch for what is termed a “kill mulch.” (With the exception of Bishop’s Weed, of course.) This extraordinary mulch pile is allowing me to create my “woodland edge” bed without busting sod – whew. It is a large bed and by next spring, I hope to be planting in it. This season I will have to wait for the mulch to do the killing – of the grass (and weeds because my lawn is not perfect, but is shrinking). My method involves laying down overturned sod that I dug up from the potager for new beds, from newly edged existing beds, and from expanded beds in the front and along side the driveway. Then I layer newspaper (sprinkled with water so it doesn’t blow away), and a thick layer of newly chipped mulch.
This is my target. The entire edge of this blessed chainlink fence. This is how it looked when we moved in.
And here is how the bed is shaping up so far …
Here is the new bed as viewed from above. (The Spruce tree was planted two years ago.)
The bed will continue all the way up to the shed as long as I don’t run out of mulch – HA HA! It will incorporate the newly planted Serviceberry tree (previous picture). I plan to add one to two more smaller trees such as a Redbud, and a variety of shrubs including Winterberry to create a woodland edge setting. There’s mulch more to do!