RustySNovember 21, 2005

I live in SW Pennsylvania and recently applied many bags of cedar wood chips around 3 sides of my home. They had a season ending clearance special on them at the gardening section of the local Lowe's Home Improvement Store. Lacking a pickup truck I thought that hauling them in in bags was most convenient. I did this mainly to keep down the weeds and because of all the good things I've read about cedar when used as a mulch, specifically resistance to insects. These various beds where I applied the chips include 10 newly planted Wichita Blue Junipers, 7 Azaleas, 6 Hollies, 3 Dogwood trees, several small pines and several dozen Tulip, Hyacinthe and Peony bulbs or tubers. All of these items were planted in the last 3 months except the Dogwoods and small pines which came with the home which I purchased a year ago. The Azaleas were planted on one side of the house where they will receive a moderate amount of shade and be protected from the winter winds. The bulbous plants were planted on 2 sides of the house where they will get a mixture of sunlight and shade. The Wichita Blue Junipers were planted further away from the home on 3 different sides to allow more sunlight . All of the acid loving plants were treated with root stimulator and Canadian Sphagnum Peat around the main stem not long after planting which occurred since Labor Day. I applied the cedar chips (which are a bright beige in color) in such a way as to barely cover the ground underneath such that it wasn't visible. At my wife's request I applied the chips up to the main stem of each plant for astetic reasons. The only negative I've read about cedar chips is that they can rob the soil of nitrogen as they decay. I plan to give all of the acid loving plants a dose of fertilization in March and again in June with Miracid. I also plan to give the Wichita Blue Junipers an application of Sheep Manure in the spring at the suggestion of a local garden shop owner. Given the types of plants I've planted and where I've placed them, can anyone tell me anything I may be doing wrong? Will the cedar chips inhibit the Tulips, Hyacinths and Peonies from coming up? Can you offer any better suggestions for fertilization in the spring?

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If you only barely covered the soil, you aren't even likely to seriously affect the germination of weeds much less the re-emergence of perennials. Woodchips won't rob soil of nitrogen unless they are mixed into the soil (excepting where chips are added to sterilized soil). Fertilize as you normally would as your wood-chip application is purely aesthetic (the thickness you describe will not prevent germination of weed seeds, keep the soil cool or reduce evaporation of soil water. Additionally, a light application a rot resistant mulch will provide few nutrients to your plants).


    Bookmark   November 23, 2005 at 10:47PM
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