Return to the Rocky Mountain Gardening Forum | Post a Follow-Up

Re-using shredded cedar mulch

Posted by wishccr Z4-5 CO (My Page) on
Sun, Apr 20, 08 at 12:08

Hi all! I cleared my gardens of pea-gravel mulch a couple years ago (I will NEVER do that again except in specific areas where washout is a problem.)

I replaced the gravel with shredded cedar mulch, which has done wonders for my garden. In the spring I have been scraping all the mulch off, working some compost and fertilizer in, putting the old mulch back, and adding new mulch on top.

Last week I read an article that said you should not re-use the mulch, it should go to the compost pile. Any thoughts on this? The old mulch may be a bit gray, but would there be any reason you couldn't reuse it? My landscape is very rustic and I don't mind the gray color.

Thanks for your help, as always!

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Re-using shredded cedar mulch

Did the article give any reason why you shouldn't reuse the mulch? I've never heard or read anything to indicate that mulch needs to be replaced on a regular basis. Was the article written by somebody who has a vested interest in selling mulch?

RE: Re-using shredded cedar mulch

Hi Wish,

Ive never heard of that eitherand have never replaced any mulch. When I plant I rake it back away from where Im gonna dig the hole, and when Im done I push it back where it was to start with. A couple days ago I just took all the mulch off of the top of two whisky barrels I have in the front yard, and its now in a big plastic pot waiting to be put back on top of the soil in the same whiskey barrels when theyre planted for this year. I do tend to add a little more on top around my perennials each year because the stuff thats on the bottom thats in contact with the soil gradually composts into the soil, so I just make sure theres a good layer there. There is a color contrast when I put fresh stuff on here and there, but in a couple weeks it fades and all looks the same again. The only thing I know of that you shouldnt do with wood mulch is mix a whole bunch of it into the soil if you have things growing there or are going to be planting things there since undecayed wood would bind the nitrogen in the soil while it was decaying, so youd probably wind up with some poor looking, struggling plants until the majority of the wood was decayed.

Other than that, I agree with BP, was the writer in the mulch-selling business? Besides, if "old" mulch wasnt safe to put back around plants, it wouldnt be safe to put it on the compost pile either!

As long as its not rock, its good!

RE: Re-using shredded cedar mulch

I read this on a Roger Cook "This Old House" gardening tips was about preparing your garden for Spring. He seems to think old mulch will rob your garden of nitrogen.

That you both for your input, I'd rather spend my money on new plants than mulch any day!

Cedar mulch & PH

My garden soil PH is 7.6. How much will the cedar mulch increase my PH?

RE: Re-using shredded cedar mulch

wishccr - I have to agree with all the other statements you got. Unless the stuff is full of weed seeds, pesticides, herbicides or for some other reason I would not replace it, the three R's come into place, reduce reuse recycle.

Donna - contact your extension office, I don't know off hand, but if you want organic information, let them know that. If they won't give you organic call another office or call CSU Boulder directly and let them know that that office would not give you the info you wanted.

Oh, as a sidenote, the El Paso County extension office has the Master Gardner program back and they just published an article about mulches that I thought was pretty interesting. I remeber we had the great rubber tire mulch debate going a while back and they concurred with our opinion. I will bring it with me tomorrow for anyone who wants to read it.


RE: Re-using shredded cedar mulch

  • Posted by jnfr z5b CO (My Page) on
    Sun, May 22, 11 at 13:45

Wood (or any carbon source) will eat up nitrogen when it degrades. Eventually it releases it again as the wood completely breaks down, but it will need extra nitrogen in the meantime. My soil, at least, is so nitrogen-starved that I'm always adding N sources to it anyway.

 o Post a Follow-Up

Please Note: Only registered members are able to post messages to this forum.

    If you are a member, please log in.

    If you aren't yet a member, join now!

Return to the Rocky Mountain Gardening Forum

Information about Posting

  • You must be logged in to post a message. Once you are logged in, a posting window will appear at the bottom of the messages. If you are not a member, please register for an account.
  • Please review our Rules of Play before posting.
  • Posting is a two-step process. Once you have composed your message, you will be taken to the preview page. You will then have a chance to review your post, make changes and upload photos.
  • After posting your message, you may need to refresh the forum page in order to see it.
  • Before posting copyrighted material, please read about Copyright and Fair Use.
  • We have a strict no-advertising policy!
  • If you would like to practice posting or uploading photos, please visit our Test forum.
  • If you need assistance, please Contact Us and we will be happy to help.

Learn more about in-text links on this page here