How to do I keep pine bark mulch in the bed?

fnboyd(z8 AL)February 9, 2006

I recently had new beds installed in the front of my house. Landscape fabric was put down with shredded pine bark on top. I can't keep it in the bed. Every time it rains it washes into the grass. Do I need to put edging around the beds? Any suggestions????

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Get rid of the bark, replace it with pine straw, and you won't have that problem.


    Bookmark   February 9, 2006 at 11:07PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

He/she will still have problems as long as there is landscape fabric. Some are more slick than others, and some people even install it so that the slick side is up. Unfortunately, I would say 'get rid of the landscape fabric' to solve your problem, but I'll be you don't want to do that. This is, unfortunately, one of the several reasons why this stuff has gone out of favor with professionals and homeowners alike.

Based on past experience, you will have to put some edging to keep the bark from washing all over the place. Even then, you may find that your mulch continues to pool up at the edging and might still spill over. Sorry, but I can't think of any other helpful solutions for what used to be a universal problem when landscape fabric was widely used. Changing to pine straw might improve the situation a little bit, but not much.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2006 at 9:15AM
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Hardwood mulch will wash away with LOTS of rain, but it will not float as pine does. I agree about the landscape fabric. Replace it with 10 layers of newspaper, then 4 inches of shredded hardwood mulch, and you will improve soil, plant health, and appearance.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2006 at 8:43AM
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Another way is to replace the landscape fabric and mulch with groundcovers. In the long run it is a whole lot cheaper to buy several flats than to replenish with mulch every year (and a lot less energy than to clean up the rain-washed-down piles).

Nancy the nancedar

    Bookmark   February 26, 2006 at 7:00PM
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sherilynn(Zone 9)

If you haven't found out yet how to keep the mulch in the bed, I'll tell you. You need to get a flat headed edging spade and "outline" the perimeter of your beds with the spade by digging a trench straight down about 4" all the way around. Then from inside the bed 'slice' into the trench at about a 45 degree angle from about 4"~5" from the "outline". This will make a nice sloped type of trench. Fill your beds with mulch purposely not filling the trench. As you lighting rake the mulch around let some of it settle down towards and in the trench. Just do not go "fill" the trench with mulch. Enough will settle in it as you spread the rest around. Water your beds and you will see that any 'run off' or mulch that usually went into your yard, will now miraculously stay in the bed.

Hope this hepls. Knowledge late is better than never knowing.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2006 at 12:19AM
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catbird(z7 AL)

I agree about getting rid of the fabric. In the long run, the mulch will compost and weeds will grow in it with roots going down through the fabric. It's a pain! I do the newspaper layers covered with mulch and it works. There won't be many weeds and the ones that do appear are easy to pull.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2006 at 8:42AM
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buford(7 NE GA)

I even used landscape fabric under rocks around my air conditioning units to keep out weeds and the weeds came through. The stuff is useless.

You don't have to use edging, but it helps. We put in some of the rubber edging and it was pretty easy to use. We still get some overspill, but not as much. The larger chunks of pine bark don't spill or float as much as the mini-nuggets (but the mini-nuggets do look nice!).

I don't like pine straw because it breaks down faster and if you are in the beds a lot, it gets all over your feet and tracks into the house. I only have it in sloped areas.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2006 at 9:21AM
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DebbieInMiami(z10 Miami, Fl)

This was posted on the Florida board. She uses cardboard, I think that is a really great idea.
We do not rototill anything. Many of the areas had various grasses and weeds growing in them. No roundup, no anything. Just lay the large sheets of cardboard on top, overlap the edges by about 6 inches, just like puzzle pieces, and then cover with large amounts of organic material. You don't put dirt on top. We've found wood chips to be an ideal first layer because they are heavier, but anything goes. All the materials we obtained were free. We use the cardboard we got from the dumpster at the appliance store where we purchased our appliances. They have very large boxes, like refrigerator, washer/dryer, etc. and are happy to part with them. Sometimes they help me load them. We transported them home in my van. The wood chips came from tree companies that have chopped up trees/leaves. You should tell them you don't want any mulch/chips from nuisance trees (brazilian pepper, palms, camphor, carrotwood). Oak and pine are the best. You're lucky if you can get cedar (smells so good and deters pests). They usually deliver by the truckload, so you need to be prepared for that. Then we carted the chips by wheelbarrow to the cardboard which had been placed over the grass. We applied a very thick layer (several inches). After that base layer we took our time layering other stuff as we obtained it. After the oak trees shed (around Feb, March and up until about a couple of weeks ago), we collected many bags full of leaves that our neighbors placed by the road for recycling collection and brought them home as we found them. We placed them over the wood chips. Pine needles are a great find because they take so much longer to degrade. Grass clippings, manure, used coffee grounds, etc. We just pile stuff in different areas as we obtain it. You get it all for free. I had no luck advertising in freecycle, but maybe your area would be different.
The grass underneath takes about two weeks to weaken/soften. You don't have to wait till then, but it may be easier, because the ground underneath will be easier to dig holes as the earthworms move in and aerate the area and soften it up. And they will! You just dig a hole through the cardboard (easy with a shovel), and plant your plant. No rototilling, no waiting. Many of these beds still have discernable cardboard there when we dig. The moisture and fertilizer get through just fine. When we dig a few months later to plant some more, we are always surprised at how moist the soil is, and how many earthworms we now find that were not there before. The soil holds more water because of their tunneling.

We do water our plants as usual. Some of our areas have irrigation and we set it as usual. Others don't and I hand water when needed. I water the rose bed about every 5 days, for example, but these roses are fairly drought tolerant. I haven't tried any less, but maybe less would be enough. They were just planted in March.

Try one bed this year and see what you think. I bet next year you will decide to do more. You will start looking around for what you can layer on top every time you drive down the street. By the way, people are very happy to give you their leaves, grass clippings, etc. I like the natural look the beds take on. This year we have more birds and birds' nests than we've ever had. Birds love to forage around in the leaves and stuff to get bugs, worms, etc. They help us with the pest control, and leave their poop for fertilizer. All this, and you save money, as you help build your soil and keep lots of stuff out of the landfills.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2006 at 6:56PM
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the_virginian(Zone 7 NoVA)

Put pine straw over the bark and it will keep it in place.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2006 at 5:03PM
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Yes, put pine straw over the bark but remove the landscape fabric first. If you still have a problem then try some black plastic mesh netting to hold the bark and straw in place.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2006 at 5:13PM
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dottie_in_charlotte(z7-8 NC)

I had that problem too in flat beds so I just put an 8" collar of pine straw and it's worked perfectly. My bark mulch used to float clear off and all over the sidewalk and driveway during hard rains.
Try the collar method. I think your biggest problem is that landscape fabric. Water doesn't go through it fast enough so it makes the bark float. That Mulchhold might work to keep mulch from blowing away but mulch on top of landscape fabric..stuck together with Mulchhold might just raft off the fabric. Might be worth a try though.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2008 at 6:49PM
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