Using wood mulch on paths

FireFire LondonPosts: 5,263

Hi,

I have recently covered much of my garden space with wood mulch. A local furniture maker was looking to get rid of wood shavings (mixed wood) and I have used them on beds and paths. I have read about some worries about nitrogen depletion from the soil, but I'm wondering what your experience is with slug increase. So far I have found it to be pretty amazing stuff. I've barely had to water at all and there is a wealth of wildlife in the mulch - worms, millipedes, wood lice, spiders, ants etc. So, it's essentially acting like soil, as a host medium, although it hasn't broken down yet. I have read that some people have found it to host slugs too, who enjoy the warm, dark, damp. Have you found it to be a problem? Why is it not more popular, given that its often a free resource locally? Thanks

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  • Hostafan1Hostafan1 Posts: 20,540

    "nitrogen depletion" is often bandied about. I've read evidence to say it does, and evidence which says it doesn't. However. I've never read anything which says it happens with mulching, only when dug into the soil before it's composted fully. 

    There is also conflicting evidence as to whether that depletion actually does any harm to plants. 

    The air we breath is 78% nitrogen. As a mulch nitrogen is drawn from the air , not from the soil.

    I have 2 local tree surgery companies drop chippings to me and I've never had a problem with it regarding slugs ( and I've got over 1,000 hostas image)

    Devon.
  • FireFire LondonPosts: 5,263

    Great. Thanks. I've read that any nitrogen taken out by mulching is returned to the soil as it break down. I went to an open day at a local allotment yesterday and not one plot was mulched. It seemed very odd.

  • Hostafan1Hostafan1 Posts: 20,540

    it seems if the same ( well intentioned ) untruth is repeated often enough, folk begin to believe it's true.

    Last edited: 06 June 2017 00:01:59

    Devon.
  • Hostafan1Hostafan1 Posts: 20,540

    I reckon I used about 20 - 30 tons last year in mulching and compost making.

    Devon.
  • Mary370Mary370 Limerick, Ireland Posts: 1,411

    I too am using mulch for the first time, I'm using the shop bought bags of bark.  It definitely suppresses the weeds, but I wonder does i keep the ground too damp, I was surprised how damp the earth was when I planted out young plants the weekend.  The boarder where I have not used the bark was much drier that the bed I mulched. I worry now that this will this be a problem in the winter for the plants? 

  • FireFire LondonPosts: 5,263

    I wonder about root rot too - for bulbs and things.

  • Mary370Mary370 Limerick, Ireland Posts: 1,411

    Firefly.............regarding bulbs.  On Gardeners World a couple of weeks ago, Monty placed grit in the hole, then placed the bulb on top of the grit before replacing the soil, to ensure the bulb wouldn't sit in the wet earth.

    Last edited: 06 June 2017 12:55:58

  • Allotment BoyAllotment Boy North London Posts: 1,838

    Mulching in general is always quoted as a positive thing to do, it retains moisture, suppresses weeds, and with the right material will add feed as well. The material used will depend on the situation and what you require from it. Wood chip will add little or no nutrient even when it is broken down. Sorry to be a pedant but it is the bacteria that break down wood chip that consumes the  Nitrogen. In a really thick mulch the bacteria may draw the Nitrogen they need from the soil, where the mulch meet the soil.  Hostafan clearly has great experience using Woodchip  and reports no problems. On our allotment site we have tree surgeons that deliver Woodchip to us for free as it costs them money to dispose of it otherwise. A lot of our members use it. My only issue with this with those that just put woodchip down without removing weeds first, as the perennial weeds just spread out from underneath. I do use woodchip but only on some paths I use compost, or well rotted manure to mulch round perennial planting both in the garden & on the allotment.

    AB Still learning

  • Hostafan1Hostafan1 Posts: 20,540

    Each and every gardener will have different experiences and all are valid. I can only report on my own experience, and indeed the ( inconclusive ) research I've done online. 

    I use builders' dumpy sacks and layer up chippings with grass clippings and it makes wonderful "compost" in about 6 months. Fresh stuff I use to mulch paths in the polytunnels.

    Devon.
  • Hostafan1Hostafan1 Posts: 20,540

    Iain R says:

    " Sorry to be a pedant but it is the bacteria that break down wood chip that consumes the  Nitrogen. In a really thick mulch the bacteria may draw the Nitrogen they need from the soil, where the mulch meet the soil."

    Can I ask if there's any conclusive research to show that the resulting nitrogen loss actually has a deleterious effect on plants? 

    I'm no expert and I'd love to know the definitive answer. As I've said, I've seen much conflicting research.

    p.s. I love a Pendant. image

    Devon.
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