Mulching, Recycling, and Fertilizing

Report
Landscape Mulches
Recycling Yard Waste
and Fertilizing Appropriately
By
Adam Pitcher, Extension Hort Assistant,
[email protected] ; Tel.: 954-357-5283
John J. Pipoly III, Ph.D., FLS, Extension Agent
[email protected]
Landscape Mulches
What is mulch?





Mulch is a layer of material applied
over otherwise bare soil. It is
specifically used to perform the
following services:
to conserve moisture
to improve the fertility and health of
the soil
to reduce weed growth
to enhance the visual appeal of the
area
Types of Mulch

Organic materials


bark, wood chips, leaves,
pine needles, grass
clippings
Inorganic materials

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gravel, pebbles, rubber,
or woven ground cloth
NOT recommended; they
do not add organic
content to soil
Benefits of Organic Mulch
Using mulch can:

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Improve soil
Ease maintenance
Improve plant
performance
Increase drought
tolerance
Suppress weeds
Melaleuca Mulch



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Harvested from invasive
plant stands (YAY!)
Retains color
Slow decomposition
Not attractive to termites
Allelopathic properties
Eucalyptus Mulch




Harvested from Florida
plantations
Good color retention
May repel insects while
fresh (~ 3-6 months)
Allelopathic properties
Pine Bark/Needles


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Often a byproduct of the
timber industry
Readily available
Helps lower pH/acidify soil
Pine Bark will decompose
slower=last longer
Needles will decompose
faster=more acid
Cypress Mulch





Often harvested from wild
Cypress stands
Not recommended as
origins may be difficult to
determine
Maintains color
Slow decomposition
May be eaten by termites
Dyed Mulch
Typically made from recycled pallets
 Buy from a reputable source to ensure:


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Wood is not
pressure
treated
Dyes are
nontoxic,
as
soybeanbased inks
such
Rubber Mulch

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Made from recycled rubber/tires
Unknown composition & effects
Does not decompose
Does not add organic matter to the soil!
Gravel, Pebbles, & Stones

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Available in a variety of
colors/sizes
Permanent; often alkaline
Fireproof/insect-proof
Lawn mowers can pick up
and throw the stones!
Reflect/absorb solar
radiation, generating heat
How Much?

Maintain 3-4
inches of mulch
BUT…

Allow 1-2 inches of
space between mulch and plant base

Constant contact with moisture on the plant
can result in wood/root rot due to fungal and
bacterial pathogens
Recycling Yard Waste
Recycled Yard Waste



Did you know? Florida law
prohibits disposal of yard
waste in lined landfills!
Retain the nutrients
in your own landscape!
Save money on fertilizer,
mulch, and waste disposal
Grasscycling


Grass clippings can be left on the lawn

Saves money- This is equivalent to about one
fertilizer application per year!

Saves time
Remove only 1/3
grass blade
of the
Grasscycling does not result in thatch build-up!
Thatch is stem & root overgrowth caused by cutting
too low and/or improper-watering.
Composting at Home
Overview:
1)
2)
3)
4)
Choosing a Container
Assembling the Pile
Maintaining the Pile
Using Finished Compost
Compost Bins
Purchase a compost bin or
build your own. Consider:
 Appearance
 Size- at least 1 cubic yard
 Accessibility- to add materials and
remove finished compost
 Ability to mix materials inside
 Pest access
A bin is not necessary,
but useful for deterring
pests and keeping the
pile neat.
Compostable Materials
Nitrogen-Rich
Carbon-Rich
Grass clippings
Shredded
branches
Manure
Vegetable & fruit
food scraps
Coffee grounds
Uncolored Paper
Pine needles
Old Leaves
Materials to Avoid

Do NOT add:
 Meat or dairy products
 Oils or mayonnaise
 Plants recently treated with
herbicides/pesticides
 Seed-laden weeds
 Pressure treated wood
Provide Oxygen & Water

Without oxygen & water, microbes become
less active & less efficient
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Decomposition slows down
May create bad odors
Incorporate bulky materials like twigs &
wood chips to provide air space
Turn pile often to increase air exposure
DO NOT ALLOW IT TO DRY OUT!
Using Compost

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Apply to plant beds as a soil amendment
Use as mulch
Blend with
sand,
peat,
and
perlite
for a
potting
media
Layer 1”-2” of compost underneath decorative
mulch to save money and improve soil fertility.
Fertilize Appropriately
Fertilizer Label
N-P-K
Nitrogen - Phosphorous - Potassium
Guaranteed analysis = percent by weight
For example… 16-4-8
Net weight = 100 lbs bag of fertilizer
Actual Nitrogen:
16% x 100 lbs = 16 lbs N
Actual Phosphorous: 4% x 100 lbs = 4 lbs P
Actual Potassium:
8% x 100 lbs = 8 lbs K
16 + 4 + 8 = 28 lbs of NUTRIENTS,
100 – 28 = 72 lbs of FILLER!
What Kinds are Available?
Rapid release is quickly
dissolved and immediately
available to plant for a
short period of time.
Slow release Nitrogen is
slowly dissolved and is
available over a much longer
period of time.
Release Patterns of Fertilizers
Plants not getting
needs met with
100-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------controlled release
(3-4 wks)
80--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
60---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
40-----Plants not getting
20--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------needs met with
soluble (9 wks)
0------
0
4
8
12
WEEKS
16
20
24
Soluble
Controlled
release
Plant
Needs
Some Forms of Fertilizers are
Available with Other Additives
Systemic Pesticide
Herbicides
Where to Place Fertilizer
Too Close!
When Fertilizers Won’t Work
Improper
Watering
pH too
high
Soil
Compositio
n
Root
Problem
s
Nematodes
Fertilizer
Placement
Oxygen
Nitrogen
Phosphorous
Potassium
Calcium
Iron
Manganese
Boron
Copper
Zinc
Older leaves
Newer leaves
Nitrogen – Uniform yellowing of older leaves
Potassium - Brown spots on older leaves
Iron/Manganese - Green veins, yellow
in between veins of new leaves
Boron – Twisting and pleating of new leaves
Trunk Constriction on Palms
Healthy Palm
Thanks for your attention!
The following presentation was made possible through
a grant from FL DEP and EPA. Special thanks to the
following reviewers for their valued contributions:
FL114 ELM Design Team and the FYN Subcommittee
Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, UF
Agriculture Education and Communication Department
Environmental Horticulture Department
Entomology and Nematology Department
Soil and Water Sciences Department
Florida Cooperative Extension Service in: Alachua, Broward, Clay, Hillsborough,
Lake, Miami-Dade, Orange, Pinellas, Sarasota, and Volusia Counties
Florida Organics Recycling Center for Excellence
The Center For Wetlands, UF
United States Department of Agriculture
FL Department of Agriculture & Consumer Sciences: Division of Plant Industry
Note: Adapted from FFL presentation by Rebecca McNair
UF-IFAS Broward County Extension Education Section
Parks and Recreation Division
http://www.broward.org/PARKS/EXTENSION/URBANHORTICULTURE/Pages/Default.aspx
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