The longevity of black-dyed mulch color depends on maintenance and environmental factors. Generally, it lasts up to one year in ideal conditions like moderate temperatures and low amounts of rainfall. 

Additionally, proper care and regular application of a mulch sealant can help extend its life. Mulch sealant forms a protective layer over the mulch that helps prevent fading caused by sun exposure, water absorption, and bacterial growth. Regularly reapplying this product will keep your mulch looking fresh for much longer. 

In addition to maintaining the dye’s color, these products also help control weeds between applications of new mulch. You should always follow manufacturer instructions when using any product on your landscaping projects, including colored or dyed mulches.

Big Problems with Using Dyed Mulch

Who doesn’t enjoy the aesthetic of a recently mulched garden? In particular, the ideal colored mulch complements your color scheme, improving the area’s look and feel.

Every gardener should take advantage of the many benefits that mulch has to offer. Whether a home vegetable garden or a border of mixed perennials, gardening is a rewarding hobby. It comes with an excessive number of advantages, making it impossible to ignore. These advantages include preventing soil erosion, helping moderate the temperature of your lawn, and preserving moisture in the soil.

Unfortunately, many gardeners take advantage of colored or dyed mulches for the aesthetic benefit. Recognizing some big problems associated with using these types of mulch products is essential.

The Source of Dyed Mulch

Numerous colored mulches are composed of recycled and reclaimed materials, which sounds like a fantastic eco-friendly concept. However, this also means that many colored mulch products may contain treated or manufactured wood waste. These materials cannot be turned into mulch because they contain pollutants.

They are treated with chromium and copper, among other heavy metals. These are used to extend the life of mulch or contain binding agents like glue. Additional pollutants include arsenic, dioxins, mercury, and formaldehyde.

These chemicals are dangerous to both humans and the environment. These chemicals can leach into the soil and groundwater when exposed to water or air. This will endanger both your family and the environment in general.


Damaging the Soil Ecosystem

In addition to being potentially harmful to the plants, animals, and people who interact with the mulch, coloured mulches can harm the soil’s vitality. The microbial community in healthy soil, which will produce the most beneficial plants, is complicated—composed of microorganisms, insects, and worms. They contribute nutrients, structure, and the ability to absorb water properly.

Any damage to this ecosystem is undesirable. With soil organisms and the organic matter they assist in preserving, the soil is significantly more nutrient-dense, and its structure can deteriorate into a powdery consistency.

Dyed Mulch is Not Designed to Break Down

Among its most significant advantages, mulches can decompose and add nutrients and organic matter to the soil.

However, wood products that have been treated to resist decomposition can be used to create mulches that have been coloured. Therefore, they do not give the necessary advantage. Healthy soils require organic matter additions to maintain their structure and water-retention capabilities.

Maintaining Mulch Year-Round

In general, mulch requires very little maintenance in order to perform as expected, and the lifespan of certain mulches can extend to ten years or even more before they need to be renewed. Therefore, it is of the utmost importance to regularly examine the depth of your mulch and make certain that it ranges from two to four inches. 

Despite this, the color of mulch will gradually fade over time due to sun exposure, and despite your best efforts, weeds will occasionally poke their heads above the surface.

Refresh Mulch Color

Over time, mulch colors fade due to regular exposure to sunshine. Normal, non-dyed mulch may turn grayish in one to two months; brown or black mulches may retain their color for a year or longer if dyed. But, without upkeep, all mulches will eventually deteriorate. So, what is the secret to illuminating drab mulch?

The simplest way to deal with gray mulch is to cover it with a thin layer of new mulch, no more than one inch thick. But, first, the existing mulch should be examined before adding fresh mulch to existing layers. How thick are the ancient layers? When was the last time you replenished your mulch? Does the mulch appear wet or decomposing?

If the old mulch is decaying, it must be replaced entirely. If this is not possible, remove as much mulch as possible before applying a new layer, as too much mulch could damage your plants. When mulch layers exceed four inches in thickness, they become hydrophobic. Additionally, excessive mulch might choke plant roots. When the old mulch layers are reduced to two inches or less, adding two inches or less of new, colorful mulch is okay.

Remove Weeds

Despite the incredible power of mulch to repel weeds, weeds nonetheless occasionally emerge. Fortunately, there are strategies to keep even the most persistent weeds under check.

If you observe weeds growing through your mulch, you may need to apply additional mulch. Keep mulch layers at least 2 inches deep to obscure sunlight and prevent weed growth. To avoid weed development, mulch should obstruct sunlight. Choose bark mulches that are coarsely broken or shredded since they degrade slowly and are less likely to be blown away.

Second, pick weeds by hand as soon as you notice them, so they don’t take over. In a single season, a single weed can produce thousands of seeds. In addition, weeds compete with nearby plants for water, sunshine, and nutrients; thus, they attempt to eradicate weeds before they produce seeds when they are still young.

You could use a pre-emergence pesticide to prevent weed seed germination. However, pre-emergence herbicides are ineffective against already-emerging weeds. To apply a pre-emergence herbicide, scrape away the mulch, dig out any existing weeds, and apply the chemical according to the label recommendations. You can also use maize gluten meal as a natural substitute. After spraying the pre-emergence herbicide, replace the mulch.

You can apply a post-emergence herbicide application on existing weeds. Optional organic sprays include vinegar and clove oil. Consult with a nursery to select the best herbicides for your needs, taking care not to harm neighboring vegetation.

If you have not yet placed mulch or are renewing mulch, you can forego pesticide and use landscape fabric to prevent weed growth.

Mulch Twice a Year

Mulch should be added whenever layers thin out for whatever reason. You should also replace mulch if it crumbles in your hands like soil because it is no longer effective. Otherwise, mulch should be used twice a year, once in the spring and once in the fall.

Add extra mulch in the spring to replace old decomposed mulch or to replenish mulch that has washed or blown away, keeping a thickness of at least 2 inches. Wait until the soil is warm and moist in the middle to late spring before applying new mulch to retain moisture and help plants prepare for the summer heat. Mulch can impede seed germination if applied too early or when the soil is chilly and damp.

Apply new mulch in the fall to insulate plants and protect roots from harsh winter temperatures. Apply mulch after the first freeze, but do it before temperatures drop too low. You may attract creatures looking for a winter home if you apply mulch before the ground freezes. 

Using loose material such as straw, hay, or pine boughs to insulate plants without compacting them under snow. Mulching in the fall helps to lessen the freezing and thawing process, which reduces the chance of plant harm.

Also, regardless of the season, mulch around young plants immediately after planting them for the most remarkable effects.

Main Street Mulch is here to help you with your mulch needs. Whether you’re looking for a way to add color and texture to your garden beds or need an extra layer of protection for the roots of your plants, Main Street Mulch has you covered.

Contact us today with any questions or inquiries.