Now a days a vast majority of home owners will mulch their flower and planting beds which is not only beneficial for the plants but the soil as well unless you are using toxic mulch. If you have every spread mulch around your plants and found that they turned brown and died in just a day or two then you have purchased toxic mulch.
Here in the mid west we use mostly hardwood mulch which comes from the debarking process at lumber mills. As long as the mulch sits for a whileÂ and starts to decompose it is usually fine, but the problem comes in during the winter months when there is not much or any demand for mulch..
Due to space constraints the mulch takes up a lot of space so large front loaders are used to stack the mulch as high as possible. As the heavy machines drive over the much they compress the mulch and force all the air pockets out of the mulch pile.. Because there is no way for the gases formed during the composting process to escapeÂ they are trapped. When you get a load of mulch delivered if you are unfortunate enough to purchase mulch from one of these heavily compacted piles it will kill the plants and even scorch the grass along the edge of the beds and along the driveway where it was dumped.
There is really no way to tell by looking at it whether or not the mulch is toxic it looks just like regular mulch.. There is a very strong smell that will take your breath away is the best I can do to describe it. Although all mulch has an odor this one is very strong and not like the normal mulch odor.
The best way to be sure the mulch you purchased is safe is to take a few shovels from the middleÂ of the pile and then spread it around a couple inexpensive plants then wait a day or two . Check the plants thoroughly and if they show no signs of damage then the mulch is more than likely safe.
I don’t want you to panic this problem does not occur often I have only experienced it 3 times in the last 10 years and I buy hundreds and hundreds of yards of mulch each year. The other thing is that we are talking about bulk mulch not the bagged product. So do not get too worried if you suspect something is wrong with the mulch try the test I described and if there is a problem get a hold of the supplier right away and have him pick up the mulch and refund your money.