Difference between double and triple shredded mulch

Triple Ground Shredded Mulch

Mulch is used in gardens and landscapes to nourish the soil and help plants grow healthy and vibrant. All mulches are shredded to various degrees to make them easier to spread and to increase the rate at which they break down into the soil. Triple ground shredded mulch is the finest level of shredded mulch that you will find.

Shredded mulch is easier to spread along the base of your trees and plants. We recommend our triple ground shredded mulch to those who are planting new saplings or young sprouts because it adds vital nutrients that growing plants need. All of our mulches are made from the finest hardwood. They have a dark color and are perfect for perennial gardens. To learn more about our shredded mulch and other products and topsoil for sale, call us now at 636-332-1928.

Factor to Consider When Buying Triple Ground Shredded Mulch

When buying shredded mulch, there are various qualities that need to be considered, based on the requirements you have. Here are a few things you should keep in mind when decided what shredded mulch you need for your landscape or garden:

  • Coverage: It is important to measure the area that you plan to mulch and calculate how much mulch you need. You will want to apply about 2 to 4 inches of mulch, on average. At Kurtz Nursery, we can assist you in deciding on the quantity of shredded mulch you need if we know the dimensions of the garden. You can also use our mulch calculator to learn more about calculating how much shredded mulch you will need.
  • Color: There are various colors of shredded mulch that you will find, ranging from very light to very dark browns. This depends on the type of wood that is used to create the mulch. Dyed mulch is also available to improve the aesthetic appeal of your landscape. Both dyed and un-dyed mulch lose color over time, but dyed can hold it for several months longer.
  • Shred Type: If the mulch you choose is single shredded, you will find that it has very long strands and is quite coarse. Double shredded mulch is about four to six inches, while triple shredded mulch is the most compact at one to three inches. As the shred becomes finer, the mulch locks itself together more closely and stays in place better.
  • Weed Control: Triple shredded mulch is more effective at weed control than the other types of mulch because it locks together, preventing air and sunlight from reaching the weeds. Single shreds can leave a lot of room for sunlight, so it is not as useful for weed prevention.
  • Erosion Prevention: All types of shredded mulch can be applied along hilly slopes to stop soil erosion. Since mulch has a tendency to settle down and become compact, there is no issue of soil blowing or washing away. Triple shredded mulch offers a more finished appearance than coarser varieties.

The Difference Between Double and Triple Ground Shredded Mulch

Both double and triple ground shredded mulch are very useful for maintaining an attractive landscape and garden. More importantly, they keep the soil healthy and well-moisturized so that plants can thrive through harsh climate changes.

The main difference between double shredded mulch and triple shredded mulch is how long it takes to decompose. Finer mulches tend to incorporate into the soil much sooner than coarser ones. This means they may need to be replaced or reapplied more often, but it also means that nutrients are being added to the soil more quickly. Finally, the choice between these two shreds comes down to specific needs and requirements that your plants may have.

Buy Triple Ground Shredded Mulch at Kurtz Nursery

At Kurtz Nursery and Topsoil, we bring you the finest shredded mulch you can find. Out triple shredded mulch is made from hardwood that we acquire from local saw mills all over Missouri. To make things easier for our customers, we undertake bulk deliveries of our mulch and topsoil to almost anywhere in and around St. Louis.

To learn more about how to place a bulk order or for help deciding which shredded mulch is best for your garden, call us now at 636-332-1928. We would love to answer any questions you may have.

Fresh Wood Chips for Mulch – Harmful or Good?

Good gardeners know that a generous layer of mulch will help garden plants in many ways. Some of the benefits include reduced weeding, cooler soil in the summer, water conservation (need less frequent irrigation), and the slow addition of organic matter as organic mulches break down. All of which leads to healthier plant growth.

There are many materials that can be used as mulch. I am often asked about using fresh woods chips (sometimes called arborist chips) for the landscape or garden. Fresh wood chips are often available at municipal landfills, compost sites and following tree removals at residences.

Before getting into some details, let’s be clear about our terminology. Mulch refers to a layer of some type of material on the surface of the soil. It is usually coarse in texture, and provides the benefits mentioned above. This is opposed to compost, which is used as a soil amendment – something that is worked in to the soil to improve its texture and other benefits. A good compost is in a highly advanced state of decomposition, and you shouldn’t be able to tell what it was made of.

Folks often have various concerns about using arborist wood chips for mulching. One concern that some have is that diseases on the wood might be transferred to ornamental plants. Plant pathologists indicate that it is very unlikely that the right combination of factors could come together to spread diseases in this way. Again, wood chips are used on the surface of the soil, not incorporated where plant roots occur. So, don’t worry about diseases.

Another concern is related to naturally occurring allelopathic chemicals that theoretically could be leached into the soil and affect nearby plants. Allelopathy is the release of chemicals produced by a plant that discourages or suppresses the growth of other plants nearby (mainly germinating seeds and young seedlings). Research over the years has not demonstrated any detrimental effect of wood chips on established plants. Walnut is one tree with demonstrated allelopathy, but it is unlikely you’ll encounter wood chips with a high content of walnut.

A common misconception is that fresh wood chips tie up nitrogen during their decomposition. For sure, nitrogen depletion will be a temporary problem when fresh wood chips are incorporated into the soil, which is why we should only use fresh chips as a surface mulch. In this case, nitrogen depletion would only be right at the soil surface, which may be one reason wood chip mulches are efficient at suppressing seed germination. Because of this, and the general coarseness of wood chips, they probably are best not used around vegetables and in annual flower beds.

But, they are a perfect choice for shrub beds, natural areas, and around trees. Several research studies have shown there is no nitrogen depletion problem for established wood plants using fresh wood chips. If you are still concerned, you can let them age before using, but it is not necessary.

Benefits. Because wood chips from tree services are usually a combination of bark, sapwood, hardwood and leaves (during the growing season, or from evergreen plants), as they break down, they slowly provide small amounts of nutrients. Also, as they break down, they increase the organic matter of the soil. This organic matter gets worked down into the soil through the activity of earthworms and insects that live and burrow through the soil. The increased organic matter in the soil results in healthier plant growth.

Using locally produced wood chips is a sustainable activity, keeping a useful product out of the landfill, which is both environmentally and economically a good thing.

In order to get the optimum benefits from wood chips, they can be applied at a depth of 4 to 6 inches. They do break down rather quickly, and will settle after a few weeks. Like any organic mulch, they need to be replenished periodically to keep providing weed suppression and water conservation benefits.

Do not pile them up against tree trunks – that can lead to potential problems with insects and fungal diseases due to the constant moisture on the tree trunks. This commonly referred to as mulch volcanoes – a practice that is not recommended. Instead, spread them like a donut so they are not in direct contact with the trunks of trees.

Colored Bark Mulch

Q. There has been a lot of controversy about the use of colored wood chip mulches in landscapes. What is the problem with these mulches? Are the dyes used in coloring the wood chips safe?
A. The primary concern with colored landscape mulches is not the dyes used for coloring. Rather, it is about the sources of wood chips and the possibility of contamination with toxic substances.
Most of the wood used for making colored mulch comes from recycled wood, i.e. wood scraps, wood pallets, and wood reclaimed from construction and demolition (C&D) waste. Besides the benefits of recycling waste wood materials, the reason why these wood materials are used for colored mulches is that they are very dry and readily absorb or adsorb coloring agents. With their high moisture content, fresh wood chips do not easily absorb or adsorb the dyes commonly used for coloring. Also, mulch produced from recycled wood is not viewed as attractive as other mulches such as pine bark. This is the most compelling reason for coloring the recycled-wood mulch.
Nevertheless, it has been found that some of the recycled waste wood used for making landscape mulch products is contaminated with various chemicals, such as creosote and CCA (chromated copper arsenate). CCA, of course, is the chemical that was used in the manufacture of pressure-treated wood. With bans on arsenic-based wood preservatives in recent years, this may become less of a problem, though there is still plenty of CCA preserved wood to be found in older decks and fences. Sometimes wood pallets that have been used in the transport of chemical agents can become contaminated by spills of these chemicals. The bottom line is that CCA and other toxic chemicals have been found to be contaminating soil where colored wood chip mulch has been applied. The most egregious source of the contamination appears to CCA treated wood recycled from C&D waste.
The dyes used in coloring wood mulch are primarily of two types: carbon-based dyes and iron oxide based dyes. Iron oxide, the most commonly used dye, is simply a compound of iron and oxygen. As the compound oxidizes, iron is released to the soil but is not considered to be toxic. Iron oxide dyes are often used in the floriculture industry to dye flowers. Dyes that are not absorbed by or adsorbed to the wood would come off with contact, especially if the mulch is wet. There are some carbon-based dyes used on mulch. These carbon-based colorants are similar to those used in ink and cosmetics. At this time, there is no evidence that the dyes used to color wood chip mulch are toxic.
It should not be assumed that all colored mulches are contaminated. However, anyone planning to use colored mulch should become familiar with the supplier and the source of the wood used in making it. If C&D waste wood is used, it should be a red flag that there is a possibility of CCA contaminated mulch.

UMass does not have a lab that tests for possible contaminants in bark mulch. If you still have concerns after contacting the supplier about the source of the wood used, contact a private environmental testing lab in your area. These can be found online or in the Yellow Pages under Laboratories.

Written by: Ron Kujawski

Is Colored Mulch Toxic – Safety Of Dyed Mulch In The Garden

Although the landscape company with which I work for carries many different types of rock and mulches to fill landscape beds, I always suggest using natural mulches. While rock needs to be topped off and replaced less frequently, it does not benefit the soil or plants. In fact, rock tends to heat up and dry out the soil. Dyed mulches can be very aesthetically pleasing and make landscape plants and beds stand out, but not all dyed mulches are safe or healthy for plants. Continue reading to learn more about colored mulch vs. regular mulch.

Is Colored Mulch Toxic?

I sometimes encounter customers who ask, “Is colored mulch toxic?” Most colored mulches are dyed with harmless dyes, like iron oxide-based dyes for red or carbon-based dyes for black and dark brown. Some cheap dyes, however, can be dyed with harmful or toxic chemicals.

Generally, if the price of dyed mulch seems too good to be true, it probably is not good at all and you should spend the extra money for better quality and safer mulch. This is pretty rare, though, and usually it is not the dye itself that is of concern with the safety of mulches, but rather the wood.

While most natural mulches, like double or triple shredded mulch, cedar mulch or pine bark, are made directly from trees, many colored mulches are made from recycled wood – like old pallets, decks, crates, etc. These recycled bits of treated wood can contain chromates copper arsenate (CCA).

Using CCA to treat wood was banned in 2003, but many times this wood is still taken from demolitions or other sources and recycled into dyed mulches. CCA treated wood can kill beneficial soil bacteria, beneficial insects, earthworms and young plants. It can also be harmful to people spreading this mulch and animals who dig in it.

Safety of Dyed Mulch in the Garden

Besides the potential dangers of colored mulch and pets, people or young plants, dyed mulches are not beneficial for the soil. They will help retain soil moisture and help protect plants during winter, but they do not enrich the soil or add beneficial bacteria and nitrogen, like natural mulches do.

Dyed mulches break down much slower than natural mulches. When wood breaks down, it requires nitrogen to do so. Colored mulch in gardens can actually rob the plants of the nitrogen they need to survive.

Better alternatives to dyed mulches are pine needles, natural double or triple processed mulch, cedar mulch or pine bark. Because these mulches are not dyed, they will also not fade as quickly as dyed mulches and will not need to be topped up as often.

If you want to use dyed mulches, simply research where the mulch has come from and fertilize plants with nitrogen rich fertilizer.

There are natural mulches on the market and there are dyed mulches. Which are better? Is there a health risk with dyed mulch? These are all questions I get asked, and that I see online.

Let’s start by talking about where mulch comes from. Typically your shredded wood products are either forest products – trees taken down by people clearing land or felled by tree services, branches and such like from tree trimming jobs – or waste wood like pallets and cast-off building materials. These materials are brought to a tub grinder and chewed up into the luscious, woody product we know as shredded mulch. Check out the video below to listen to soft piano jazz while a massive metal beast turns wood to mulch.

This mulch product then may be pushed into big long piles where it’s allowed to season a bit, or it may be dyed. The conventional wisdom is that commonly it’s the pallet-derived mulch that’s dyed. This is done to conceal the fact that it’s less desirable wood (I can’t personally confirm this). The dye colors most commonly used are black, brown, and red.

Is dyed mulch dangerous?

Short answer – probably not to people, but still exercise caution when handling. Red and brown mulches are dyed with vegetable dyes. Black mulch is typically dyed with carbon black. Carbon black () ” is a material produced by the incomplete combustion of heavy petroleum products such as FCC tar, coal tar,ethylene cracking tar, and a small amount from vegetable oil.” (from the previously mentioned wikipedia entry). Doesn’t sound awesome and there have been studies linking it to cancer, but they seem to point to it as an inhaled carcinogen. I don’t know if that means it’s less of an issue once it’s in place, but that’s my takeaway.

Dangerous to plants? Probably not because of the dyes. I’ve read the concern that fresh wood mulch that hasn’t broken down yet will rob the soil of nitrogen but we’ve thoroughly debunked THAT load of BS here. Right? Right. The only real danger I can see is that if, in fact, the mulch is derived from pallets and random building materials there *might* be chemicals that would impact your plants. But I can’t say that it’s universally a problem (or not) because they don’t put a sticker on your bag of mulch telling you the source and the species of woods you’re getting.

However that doesn’t change the fact that…

I do believe dyed mulches are the devil

Why? Because I’m a design snob. This is no secret. Red mulch? Ornamental grasses surrounded by red mulch look like cheap hair plugs in Ronald McDonald’s scalp. Black mulch draws the eye and looks like you planted in the aftermath of a forest fire. The focus of your landscaped beds should be the plants. Not the mulch.

There’s also the fact that the dyes aren’t completely locked into the product. Every time we have a big storm forecast, I get an email from the local mulch producer, warning us that if we recently installed dyed mulches we need to tell our clients to immediately hose off any dyes that ran off onto adjacent sidewalks and patios. I have enough to worry about without having to freak out that my mulch color is going to run everywhere like an audience member’s mascara in the first 20 minutes of Pixar’s UP!

So which is objectively “better”? You know that I prefer to base my opinions on science, and I’m not finding compelling research either way. But shredded hardwood mulch without dyes has had less done to it than dyed mulch, it doesn’t bleed dye all over my driveway, and it doesn’t stand out with ugly, unnatural colors. I’ll let you decide (but I may snark about it if you choose wrong).

Colored Mulch: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Many homeowners use colored mulch in their landscaping and gardening. Popular options like red mulch and black mulch not only provide the horticultural benefits of mulch, but also give your multicolored flowerbeds a decorative pop. Although, many critics cite the potential dangers, garish colors, and the unnatural look.

Regardless of color, mulch still serves a purpose, so to get the best results from any kind of mulching routine, provide a 2-3 inch layer to your garden in the spring for water retention and again in the fall for winter protection.

While using colored mulch is a personal choice, there are some things you should consider before choosing red or black mulch.

Why Do Some People Favor Colored Mulch?


This is the number one reason to even consider colored mulch. In terms of its utility, colored mulch is essentially identical to regular mulch, but people find the shock of red or black color attractive and enjoy the way it complements their existing plants and landscape. Since one of the basic goals in both gardening and landscaping is to create a space that looks appealing, it isn’t hard to see why many homeowners would choose the stark contrasts of red and black mulch.

Claims of Improved Mulching

While it’s yet to be proven in a controlled setting, many gardeners claim that the specific colors of their mulch do have an influence over the success of their planting. Colored mulch enthusiasts swear by red mulch for strawberries and tomatoes, claiming the color reflects more sun back toward the plants and encourages better growth.

Some gardeners also believe that black mulch keeps soil warmer, as black pigments absorb sunlight and heat rather than reflecting it as lighter colors tend to do. In situations where a plant would benefit from increased warmth at the soil level, black mulch would potentially have an advantage over other choices.

Why Do Others Condemn Colored Mulch?

Mulch Dye

The large scale manufacturers of colored mulch use iron oxide to dye their red mulch and carbon black for their black mulch. Both of these additives are non-toxic and safe to handle. Iron oxide is basically just rust, which isn’t harmful in the context of mulch, and carbon black is essentially the same residue you notice when handling burned charcoal.

The real controversy surrounding mulch dyes exists due to smaller, off-brand companies that use forms of dye that are considered toxic. These options are sometimes cheaper, so even while safer options exist with the bigger brands, thrifty and uninformed consumers still buy these colored mulches and leech those toxins into the environment, not to mention their own skin and lungs.

Treated Wood

CCA pressure-treated wood should never be used as mulch because one of the ingredients that makes up the CCA (chromated copper arsenate) is arsenic, a poisonous substance and carcinogen. It can leak through the surface of the wood. Even though this type of wood was phased out in 2003 by the EPA, mulch manufacturers that create their product from used wood, like old crates and pallets, are likely sampling from stocks of harmful, treated wood. This threat is much more prevalent than toxins from dye.

Choose mulch made by companies whose wood comes from raw lumber rather than recycled wood items to eliminate this risk.

Fading and Color Transfer

Colored mulch fades and has to be replaced more often than natural mulch. Another common problem is the color from the mulch dye transferring to your hands and arms as you spread it. You should always wear gloves and cover exposed skin while planting to minimize this exposure.
New mulch also hasn’t “settled” yet, so you shouldn’t walk across it or let it come into contact with anything that could be stained. Walking across the mulch will probably track the color, which may be difficult to remove from some surfaces.

It’s worth noting that no such precautions, risks, or expenses are necessary with regular mulch that isn’t colored.

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