boober
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Mulch (way too much) problem in my newly created front yard?

Hey everybody. I'm glad I found this forum, hopefully someone here can help me put my mind at ease. I need an expert as I think I have a rare problem. I've done alot of internet searching for my situation but my situation is pretty unique unfortunately. :cry:

A couple of months ago or so I decided to finally tackle my front yard and add a bunch of plants and a tree to these 2 areas out there. The lawn and sprinklers were already in, I just never got around to making the non grass areas look good.

Having really no clue how to do this sort of thing, my parents have done this sort of thing alot over the years, my mom specifically decided to help me out as she's done before for me.

So basically I have 2 big areas to add plants in. 1 area is about 14x14. The other area is kinda more L shaped and about half the size of the other area.

We wanted to add some some small mounds and hills as it was completely flat. Now here's where it all went downhill (or at least I hope not).

The mounds aren't that high really, maybe 6 inches at the highest points. Not knowing the proper method to make these hills and mounds, I went to home depot to see what they had. I happened to see some bags of organic wood chip mulch on sale, so I thought to myself, I could save a ton of money using that stuff! So I bought a total of 30 bags of the stuff, and just spread it all over the areas where the plants were going.

Now that the areas were no longer flat, I wanted to stop weds badly, as these 2 areas just had weeds that grew like crazy. So I put fabric weed blocker, 1 layer, across the entire area of both areas.

After that was done, I proceeded to plant my plants, and my grasses, and also 2 small trees.

I had nothing really to use to cover up that layer of fabric weed blocker, so I just threw another couple of inches of mulch on top of that.

Now that I'm all done, everything looks great, I'm just finding out that mulch is used to put on top of the soil. I had a few people help me do all this and not 1 of em even questioned me using all this mulch.

So now I'm seriously freaking out about what's gonna happen as times goes on with it done like this?

It looks awesome out there but I'm worried about the consequences of using so much mulch! :cry:

I'm wondering if I have to rip it all out and throw it all out and start all over again.

Can someone please advise me on this?

Thank you very very much!

boober
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Location: Meridian, ID

I forgot to mention that when I planted the plants, my dad happened to be there at the time, and he mentioned that I should make sure to not plant the plants into the mulch itself. So when I planted my plants, I cleared some of the mulch out of the way around the diameters of all my plants and grasses.

A good 3-4 inches of added depth and around the plants and grasses where they were being planted. I then added potting soil and dirt around the plants. So none of these plants or grasses are directly in the mulch.

boober
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Location: Meridian, ID

If it helps, which I would think it would, I can post some pictures up tomorrow when it's light out, to show high the 2 layers of mulch is.

2 layers as in the layer underneath the fabric weedblocker, and the mulch on top of the weedblocker.

boober
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Actually I just remembered I did take a bunch of pics immediately after I had finished up prepping the areas. The pics you'll see are how it originally looked before I started all this, and also how it looks right before I started planting.

These are pics of the 1 big area that's about 14x14 in size.

Ok talk about horrible timing. I was about to post these photos to my photobucket account but it's down right now for maintenance! :evil: [/img]

boober
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Thankfully I can now upload some pics for viewing...


Here's the 14x14 area beforehand...

[img]https://i915.photobucket.com/albums/ac355/yadfgp/DSCF0482.jpg[/img]

And here it is later on, right before I started planting plants and grasses...

[img]https://i915.photobucket.com/albums/ac355/yadfgp/20120411_193855.jpg[/img]

See not only is there mulch directly on top of the fabric weed blocker, but also there's a good 1-4 inches (or so) of mulch underneath it as well.

After I planted the plants and grasses, I added yet even more mulch around the plants. I did find out about keeping the areas the plants and grasses clear of any mulch, so I did that awhile ago.

My plants and grasses are growing though, so everything seems fine. I'm just worried about a year from now, or 2-3 years from now. I just recently found out mulch decomposes over time. So I'm worried about how this will wind up as time goes on.

I'm seriously thinking maybe I should at least sometime in the near future, removing that top layer of exposed mulch, and replacing it with a later of dirt mixed in with gardening/potting soil. This could be alot of work, and leave me with alot of leftover mulch. But I'm thinking maybe if I do this in a couple of months ago, it won't be so much work, since alot of that top mulch will have blown away or decompose I guess.

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rainbowgardener
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The mulch on top of the weed blocker fabric isn't the main issue, it's all the mulch UNDER it. It does decompose (EVERYTHING organic decomposes!). But being mainly carbon it uses up a lot of nitrogen in the process of decomposing. So it will constantly be stealing nitrogen (one of the main plant nutrients) from the little bit of soil you put around your plants.

You didn't say what you planted and you said 3-4" deep of soil, but you didn't say how wide. But anyway whatever the answer to those questions is, I'm thinking it is a very small amount of soil. Enough to get your plants started, but they will rapidly be sending their roots out of the soil into the pure mulch area, where they will find no nutrients.

It's not clear to me. Are they planted so that they can get their roots down into the actual soil you covered up with 30 bags of mulch? If so, they may survive. Incidentally I can't imagine that buying 30 bags of mulch was cheaper than having one truckload of actual dirt brought in.
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boober
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Hey rainbow thanks for your reply. :)

I guess I wasn't quite clear when I said that I had added "A good 3-4 inches of added depth and around the plants and grasses where they were being planted."

What I meant is I not only added 3-4 inches of depth, but also 3-4 inches around the plants as well.

So there is 3-4 inches of depth. And also 3-4 inches of removed mulch around the plants as well.

I realize (now) that the mulch will decompose over time. Which is why I'm freaking out.

Nitrogen I had heard will be robbed by the mulch over the time, which the plants do need. Which is why I'm thinking maybe if I just spray something like Ironite (which contains nitrogen) over the entire area, that will give my plants the nitrogen that they need.

I think that the plants will be ok as the plants aren't really in the mulch. As I said, I only added a few extra inches of mulch, before I planted, so the bottom most part of my plants and grasses are surrounded by dirt. There's really only mulch near the top most parts of my plants and grasses.

As far as a truckload of dirt being cheaper than 30 bags of mulch.

As I stated before, I really have no idea what I'm doing. When I went to buy mulch, I bought around 8 or so the first time at 3 bucks a pop. Then I went back 4 more times to buy 8 more bags each time at 3 bucks a pop as well.

Bringing my total up to around 65 bucks. I have no clue how much it costs to get a truck load of dirt, but having only spent 65 bucks for all that mulch, I thought I was doing pretty good.

boober
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My math I realize is a bit off, this forum really needs an edit function! :?

My total was around 95 bucks or so. Does any of this really matter??? :shock:

My plants and grasses, I didn't type what kind they are but if it helps I can definitely list them as far as what I planted.

As I tried to explain earlier, the plants are not really planted in mulch, it's the fact that there's mulch in the areas surrounding my plants that I'm worried about. When I dug the holes for my plants, I removed all the mulch, so that the plants are dug into actual dirt and potting soil. I added a good 3-4 inches of depth to each hole and also a good 3-4 inches AROUND the plants and grasses as well.

What I'm most worried about and wondering about is, what will happen to the mulch underneath the fabric weed blocker that is surrounding those plants over time.

Thanks

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Re:
this forum really needs an edit function!
That was a bug. It's fixed now. ;)

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rainbowgardener
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The mulch will over time break down into very soft fine stuff a lot like good soil. At that point it can be just turned in to your soil with no problem. The issues are with the process and the robbing nitrogen and as it breaks down it shrinks A LOT and your nice little mound you built will flatten out.

If your plants are planted such that their roots can get into actual dirt (not just the 3-4"), they will be ok.
Twitter account I manage for local Sierra Club: https://twitter.com/CherokeeGroupSC Facebook page I manage for them: https://www.facebook.com/groups/65310596576/ Come and find me and lots of great information, inspiration

boober
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Thanks rainbow! That more or less confirmed what i had suspected but was unsure of.

So maybe adding nitrogen based products to the area will help over time? Such as Ironite for example?

Thanks again

Dillbert
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the weed blocker sandwiched between two thick layers of much is going to become an issue over time.

the mulch decomposes into humus, above and below . . . but the plastic isn't going to rot away very soon - that stratification is apt to become problematic with water & air penetration.

not sure what your purpose is with the Ironite. it's sold as a mineral supplement. in terms of NPK, as a "fertilizer" - they specify it is 1-0-1.

not a lot of nitrogen there, certainly not a "nitrogen based product"

boober
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I suggested the Ironite as the bottle I have lists it as an ingredient.

Like I've said before, I don't really know that much about this sort of thing, which is why some of the questions and things I've asked or suggested may come off as being stupid to some of you here. So for future reference, if it helps, just please try to remember to keep in mind that I don't have much experience at all at gardening.

I'm just wondering if using a product that "has" nitrogen in it is a good way to "add" nitrogen since having all that mulch will "take away" needed nitrogen as was suggested by rainbow.

Do some of you have a suggestion to what I can do to help alleviate the lack of nitrogen problem I am sure to have? If Ironite will not help with this, is there another product that will?

Thanks!

Dillbert
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I'm pretty dyed in the wood organic when it comes to my vegetables.
however comma - I'm not so picky about my "flowers" - their job is to look pretty - and I have enough to do so "easy" works for me when it comes to annual flowers.

besides I need all my good organic stuff for the veggie garden . . .

so - go with something like Miracle-Gro - buy the powder - 2 T in a 2 gallon watering can, once a week.

probably varies by product, but the stuff I have is 24-8-16
that's 24 times the amount of nitrogen per weight used of Ironite.

there's a raft of chem fertilizers available that will be entirely adequate for the flowers-in-mulch-with-poor-dirt-under-them scenario.

in the fall when the flowers are toast I'd recommend pulling out the weed blocker plastic and just re-level the mulch.

mulch has two immediate benefits - the blocks light from the soil which keeps many seeds (weeds and other) from germinating. if they do germinate, under a heavy mulch the seedling die for lack of light before it can poke its leaves through the mulch.

second the mulch reduces moisture loss from the soil - and promotes a more eve moisture level.

long term it is "wood" / organic - it does "rot" and it will then "improve" you soil.

some mulches are treated not to rot (oops) some like cypress & licorice are "rot resistant" - a "long lasting" mulch is of course "long term less expensive" as it does not need to be augmented so often . . . .

boober
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Dillbert, thanks for that reply. That was very informative and helpful. I'll take you up on that advice.

Thanks. :D

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