Mulch is essential for shrubs, trees, and garden bed throughout the year, even when the plants are dormant.
Organic matter like leaves, hay, sawdust, straw, and rotting manure are utilized to cover the soil during the mulching process. This helps in the retention of moisture. It also shields plant roots from excessive cold or heat.
Mulching is done by some homeowners and landscapers every year, or even twice a year in the spring and fall.
On the other hand, what can you do with old mulch left on top of annual flower beds or vegetable garden beds over the winter? Because of neglect or frost, the plants died, and the food crop was collected. How can you dispose of old mulch? (Read What To Do With Old Diesel Fuel)
Getting Rid of Old Mulch and Disposing of It
You must properly dispose of old mulch to ensure proper disposal.
The removal procedure is broken down into about seven steps. Before you get ready to dispose of old mulch, let us walk you through each of these stages in detail:
Step 1: Remove the mulch from the ground with your hand.
Wear gloves because the mulch is likely to contain a variety of illnesses, fungus, pathogens, and germs. Remove only a portion of the old mulch at a time. Every week, strip a bit more. It’s better to remove the plants’ overcast days so that the bright sunlight doesn’t damage them.
Step 2: Use an edging tool to loosen the mulch in spots where it has been stuck.
This is such as the garden’s edges. This can be accomplished by running the edging tool’s blade around the garden’s perimeter.
Step 3: Break apart the mulch clumps with a rake.
Arrange the clusters in piles once you’ve loosened and lifted all of the mulch from the ground. When raking around your plants, be careful not to damage them by raking too hard. Always leave a few inches between your rake and the stem of a plant.
Step 4: The final step entails sweeping out the mulch mounds you created in step 3.
This stage can be completed with the use of a shovel. Transfer the heaps to a tarp or a container.
Step 5: Brush away any remaining mulch at the base of the plants with your gloves.
Place it inside the container, depending on what you’re using.
Step 6: Use a leaf blower to blast away any remaining little bits of mulch that are difficult to collect.
Make sure you don’t leave the blower on for too long. This is because it can get hot, dry out the soil, and blow it away.
Step 7: On the tarp or inside a container, dispose of all of the old mulch you’ve collected.
If untreated and 100% vegetative, it is fine to throw it away in the trash or a yard waste container. We’ll learn more about this next step as time goes forward. (Read Do Ceiling Fans Reduce Humidity)
How to Dispose of Wood Chip Mulch
Composting is the most natural approach to dispose of untreated wood mulch.
Many gardeners warn against composting wood chips because it binds nitrogen and makes it harder for them to decompose. That is correct. However, there are a few things you may do to help:
- Increase the amount of high-nitrogen sources in your compost bin. You should go for a carbon to nitrogen ratio of 30:1 in most cases. However, because decomposing wood binds nitrogen, you can add more nitrogen to restore balance. Fresh grass clippings, blood meal, alfalfa meal, and spent coffee grounds should all be added.
- You can leave the wood mulch in place if it’s surrounding shrubs and trees with deeper roots. The upper layer of the soil is only affected by the lack of nitrogen, whereas a tree’s deeper roots can access nitrogen deeper in the ground. Before applying a new layer of mulch, you can also add a nitrogen source, such as compost.
How Do I Get Rid of Dyed Mulch?
Dyed mulch might be hazardous to your garden. However, it depends on what was used to color it or where it came from.
Most dyed mulches are made from repurposed wood. Although it looks like an environmentally friendly option, salvaged wood mulch can contain CCA (Chromated Copper Arsenate).
This poison poses a threat to plants, humans, and animals.
Even if colored mulch does not include CCA, the repurposed wood used to make it was almost certainly treated to prevent biodegradation. As a result, colored mulch is also unsuitable for composting.
Check your municipality’s rules for disposing of colored mulch. But one thing is sure: colored mulch cannot be composted or disposed of in your yard trash container.
We recommend that you put the dyed mulch in a box and take it to your local waste management facility for disposal.
Disposing Mulch in a Yard Waste Bins
Yard waste is defined as any organic or vegetative wastes created during yard or garden maintenance.
Only the most natural and untreated mulches are accepted in the yard garbage bin. It counts as yard waste if your mulch is made of natural, biodegradable vegetative matter (wood chips, salt hay, pine straw, shredded bark, etc.).
Colored or plastic mulches, such as tarps and garden textiles, are not considered yard garbage.
- Do not throw any of these in the yard trash cans.
- Remember to keep your yard waste separate from your regular trash because placing yard waste in the trash causes:
Organic matter breaking in anaerobic settings generates greenhouse gases, or the material does not degrade at all. The presence of oxygen is required for the breakdown of organic materials. Because it is buried beneath a pile of waste, the material is unable to breathe.
It takes up a larger space in landfills. Yard garbage accounts for about 10% of all home waste. Consider what would happen if everyone started throwing it out with their trash.
It wastes vital nutrients that could be used to nourish your plants and yard naturally.
What Can I Do With Old Mulch Rather Than Throwing It Away?
Although it may be tempting to discard old mulch entirely, you must not underestimate its significance. Many gardeners believe that old mulch can be used in a variety of ways.
Aside from squandering money (mulch is costly), removing old mulch appears to be a waste of natural and organic fertilizer.
Mulch is a biodegradable material that degrades over time. Thus many people don’t see why it should be discarded.
When mixed with compost soil, old mulch can nourish the plant bed and give nutrients for good growth and development.
The earth is covered in old mulch, which protects it from harsh weather. It also acts as a barrier, keeping weeds at bay.
Old mulch also acts as a slow-release fertilizer and helps to keep the soil moist. Until it decomposes, old mulch slowly releases nutrients to the plant bed. This is something that colored or non-biodegradable plastic mulch can’t do.
You can use the old mulch as long as it preserves its size, texture, and shape.
Is It Possible to Apply New Mulch On Top of Old Mulch?
Yes. Only use new mulch on top of existing mulch if it comes from a natural source and isn’t dyed or treated.
Under the fresh layer, old mulch breaks down and returns a lot of nutrients to the soil.
You can’t always spread new mulch over old mulch, though. If any of the following applies, you must remove the old mulch:
- To become one layer, matting or clotting is used. Rain and oxygen will not be able to reach the soil if this type of mulch is used. As a result, fungal illnesses may begin to dominate.
- It’s two to three inches thick already. Unless you want to improve the aesthetic, you don’t need to add new mulch. You’ll still need to remove some old mulch to make room for enough new mulch while keeping the mulch layer from becoming too thick for your plants.
Recycled Mulch Recommendations
- During the hard winter months, pests like larvae like to hide in mulch. Old mulch from plants affected with early blight, root rot, or wilt disease should not be reused.
- Even if old mulch appears faded and less bright than fresh mulch, it retains its value. You may revitalize it using a mulch renovator and restore its former, deep brown color.
- Rake out the old mulch and allow the soil to breathe when prepping the soil. Give enough time for the water to reach the topsoil. A firm layer of old mulch should not be covered with new mulch. You’ll need to use a rake to loosen up the old mulch first.
Composting is the greatest technique to get rid of old, untreated wood mulch. To compensate, add extra nitrogen. It’s better to avoid dyed mulch, but if you already have some, you’ll need to dispose of it at a local waste management facility.