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Many hobby gardeners swear by the use of bark mulch, for example made from chopped bark from native pine trees. This mulch has many positive properties for the soil and plants, as long as you keep a few basic things in mind.

In a nutshell

  • Bark mulch is a waste product in forestry
  • It is mainly made from the bark of local pine trees
  • Mulch is available in different grits and qualities
  • The layer thickness depends on the grain size and size of the area to be covered
  • High-quality mulch is usually natural and without artificial additives

Pine bark mulch

Bark mulch is made from the bark of native coniferous trees such as pine, spruce, and Douglas fir, with pine being the most commonly used. In order to get the greatest possible benefit from this natural material, the affected area should be freed from root weeds before application. Since pine bark mulch removes nitrogen from the soil, it is important to fertilize the soil appropriately beforehand. In addition, you should pay attention to the optimal layer thickness and the right grain size. This is the only way to use the positive properties of pine bark mulch and minimize risks.

What speaks for pine bark

  • Suitable for all floors
  • Improves soil structure and soil fertility
  • Protection against desiccation and evaporation, heat, frost and erosion
  • Better regulation of the heat and water balance in the soil
  • Guarantees a good air exchange
  • Prevents soil silting
  • Promotes soil life
  • Becomes valuable humus through decomposition
  • Use of fertilizers can be reduced
  • Contains tannic acid, which inhibits the germination of seed weeds
  • Provides optimal surefootedness, especially when wet
  • Barky structure and high resin content
  • This makes it more weather-resistant than other types of mulch
  • Lower CO2 emissions thanks to shorter journeys
  • More sustainable and cheaper than mulch made from pine bark, for example

Which limits usage

  • Pine bark rots much faster than pine bark
  • Removes nitrogen from the soil
  • Prior compensation fertilization in the form of horn shavings required
  • Not all plants tolerate bark mulch
  • Snails are attracted
  • Fungi can spread
  • Root weeds cannot be prevented or combated
  • Material must be renewed regularly

Not all plants tolerate bark mulch

Pine bark mulch is a good thing, but not a panacea because not all plants tolerate it. The nitrogen deprivation particularly endangers young plants that need sufficient sunlight and those that have superficial roots, so-called shallow roots. You should also avoid mulching if you love drought, e.g. B. rock garden and prairie plants as well as alpine species and in the vegetable patch. Furthermore, roses, perennials, lavender and many Mediterranean herbs should remain free of mulch. In contrast, bark mulch is highly recommended for acid and humus-loving species such as hydrangeas or rhododendrons.

Different grits

Fine 10-20mm

Fine grains tend to compact more easily. In addition, fine pieces of mulch dissolve faster than coarser-grained ones. Mulch with this grade is perfect for flower pots and planters. However, it has to be renewed or reapplied after about nine months.

Medium to coarse 20-60 mm

Mulch with a medium to coarse grain is very well suited for covering smaller areas between flowers and shrubs, difficult-to-maintain slopes and for small paths between shrubs or the edge of a pond. The shelf life of pine bark mulch with this granulation is approximately 15 months.

Very coarse (cane bark) 60-120 mm

Pine mulch with such a coarse structure is particularly suitable for decorative purposes thanks to its intense, reddish-brown colour. It can be used to cover large areas, for example in the course of nature conservation measures. With this granulation, bark mulch lasts up to 18 months.

Tip: In principle, the larger the area to be mulched, the larger the granulation should be.

Recommended layer thicknesses

So that pine bark mulch can develop all its positive properties in the garden, it should be applied in a layer of five to ten centimeters thick. The optimal thickness is between five and seven centimeters. A height of eight centimeters is recommended to suppress weeds. When used as a path cover, the compacted layer should be at least two centimeters high.
The thicker the mulch, the better its insulating properties. However, a layer of mulch should not be higher than 15 cm, otherwise the plants could rot or mold could form due to a lack of ventilation. However, it should not be too thin either, because then it cannot prevent unwanted weed growth. In the case of trees, care should be taken not to mulch up to the trunk, but to keep a distance of 10 to 15 cm. The best time to apply pine bark mulch is in early spring or fall.

frequently asked Questions

How is bark mulch applied?

First, loosen the soil thoroughly and remove all weeds. It is important to remove the entire root system. A weed fleece, which is then laid out on the surface, is particularly effective. Then you make small incisions and insert the plants. Finally, mulch is distributed on the fleece in the correct grain size and height.

Why should you use pine bark?

The advantages of mulch made from pine bark over other types of bark mulch are primarily its barky structure, the high resin content and its good weather resistance. Not to forget its beautiful appearance and pleasant scent.

What is the difference between pine and pine bark?

The pine is not a native softwood. Because it has to be imported, it is usually significantly more expensive than pine bark, which also reduces its sustainability. The pine contains less tannic acid, so it is less effective at controlling weeds. But it doesn't change the pH of the soil that much. In addition, it decomposes more slowly. Like pine bark, pine bark also has advantages and disadvantages.

What should you pay attention to when buying?

When buying bark mulch, you should pay particular attention to quality. It should be clear on the packaging that it is exclusively pine bark without any additives. An indication of high-quality mulch is the RAL seal of approval. Another important factor is the cadmium content. It should be less than 1.5 mg per kilogram.

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