Mulch sales have increased slowly but steadily over the last decade, particularly as home improvement and DIY landscaping have become more popular. The industry is slow to change and trends move at a glacial pace for the most part. Still, landscapers should keep on top of new developments in order to offer their clients a full range of options. Here are some new trends in mulch as well as some ongoing trends that continue to get stronger.
Colored mulch was introduced about 20 years ago and has seen tremendous growth in that time period. The biggest change with colored mulch in recent years has been the push for safe dyes. Let your clients know that colored mulch is incredibly safe, with dyes, often made of ferric oxide and carbon black, that have been tested using methods similar to what the cosmetic industry uses.
Colored mulch is pretty easy to find from local suppliers, but some landscapers looking for specialty colors will want to consider a national chain like CMC Mulch Products, which supplies colored mulch as well as custom dyes for large mulch producers to use. Other mulch and dye suppliers include AgriCoatings and PalletOne Mulch.
People are looking for mulch to be “recycled,” which simply means it is made from scrap wood that had no other use. Mulch made from coastal Cyprus is a major no-no among eco-conscious consumers.
Don’t confuse recycled mulch with recycled rubber mulch, which is supplied by major companies like International Mulch and RubbeRecycle. Recycled rubber products have come under fire in recent years due to possible cancer links. Stay away from rubber mulch unless you can guarantee that it doesn’t contain harmful chemicals like phthalates, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, and volatile organic compounds. Recycled tires that are made into crumb rubber are increasingly being linked to cancer in children who spend significant time on the surface. Look for rubber mulches that don’t “bleed” when wet.
Standard mulch is made from Cyprus, Cedar, and the bark of a number of different trees. Cyprus and Cedar are favored for their aroma, longevity, and because they help to keep insects at bay. Another type of mulch, Citrus mulch, is threatening to take the crown from the traditional heavyweights though.
Citrus mulch is made by mixing shredded Citrus trees with Pine, Fir, and deciduous woods. These mulches are prized for their ability to prevent weed growth, but also because they prevent sliding. Citrus woods tend to create an interconnected mat of material, even when mixed with other woods, that is less likely to slide under rain or the effects of gravity. Standard Citrus is almost blond in color, which makes it easy to dye. SoCal Mulch, Inc. offers colors that range from blond to red to a deep black. You can even get a mahogany color.