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Old 05-28-2009, 08:02 AM
Location: Somewhere in northern Alabama
16,845 posts, read 51,301,408 times
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A warning here - decaying piles of wood are not as innocuous as they might seem.

Abstracts: Concurrent human and canine histoplasmosis from cutting decayed wood. Clinical manifestations of systemic lupus erythematosus; identification of racial and socioeconomic influences

FOXNews.com - Gardeners Warned After Wood Fungus Kills Man, 47 - Health News | Current Health News | Medical News

Here is a list of molds. Not how many of them have decaying wood as a support.
ABB Enterprises Inc. Environmental Services - Serving Maryland and the Gulf Coast Area

Once wood chips have been dumped on your property (often with leaves and other debris mixed in) you have a few options. You can IMMEDIATELY (before any molds have started) spread the material where you want it, or you can mix it into a compost pile with some additional source of nitrogen, or you can leave it in place to rot.

After the first day or two, there is NO WAY I would allow kids to play in the pile. Not only are there molds and products of decay, but the pile will be invaded by spiders and other insects, as well as (depending on your location) snakes, mice, etc..

When working with the pile, USE A GOOD DUST MASK or respirator. Yeah, they can be hot. Deal with it. I spent a few miserable months after trying to chip some free tree trimmings down to a smaller size for use as mulch. DW exacerbated her lung condition when working with the stuff. All totaled, that "free" mulch cost us thousands of dollars in direct costs and lost time.
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Old 05-28-2009, 04:03 PM
Location: Chapel Hill, N.C.
36,434 posts, read 41,620,437 times
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why should I worry about terrmites in fresh wood chips and not in "store bought" mulch. Wood is wood isn't it and we know color is added so store bought mulch isn't even considered too decomposed is it. I'm really worried now as I have spread a ton -literally- of the stuff....
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Old 05-29-2009, 10:29 AM
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I know that cedar shavings are supposed to not be good for guinea pigs, but he's been living in it for over 5 years now so I think it can't be too dangerous. I also did some research on the cocoa mulch and they say the fungus is harmless, just unsightly for a few weeks. I've been using sphagnum peat moss in place of wood mulch for the last few years, is that enough to add acidity to the soil beyond using treatments like Hollytone and Miracid?
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Old 05-29-2009, 10:40 AM
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I'm allergic to cedar! Better make sure no one in your family is allergic.
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Old 07-12-2013, 04:25 AM
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The woods chips I put down are getting mold on them. Is there anything I can do to stop the mold from growing on the wood chips. I have put wood chips down for years. I put fresh ones down every year. They have never grown mold on them before.
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Old 07-12-2013, 04:27 AM
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The woods chips I put down are growing mold on them. Is there anything I can put on them to stop the mold from growing.
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Old 04-08-2018, 09:42 PM
1 posts, read 210 times
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Thanks for the info, everyone! I recently had a very tall Italian Stone Pine fall on my property. The crew that removed the debris said they would leave me mulch if I wanted it. I thought I did, but then when I saw it, I wasn't so sure. It has a LOT of pine needles in it and the wood is still fresh. The piles are HUGE. The main part of my landscape that I want coverage on consists of succulents (lots of euphorbia and others) and cacti. I checked and my soil is not clay. But I worked SO hard to gather all these plants and so far, they are doing well. I shudder to think how I'd feel if anything caused them to die.

I do have another part to my yard which has several trees in it: Sycamore, Acacia, Chinese Elms and Australian Donbaya, along with some jade plants and various other shrubs. Perhaps this "mulch" would be best in that area? The falling of the tree led to my sprinklers being completely annihilated, so I had to shut them off in that part of the yard, so something that would preserve moisture there would be helpful -- I have no idea what it will cost and when I'll be able to work on repairing them. But I do worry about mold, etc. I don't want to ask my gardener to tend to this i.e. have to turn it constantly while it dries up. If it can be spread now, and not hurt anything, I'll use it. Otherwise, I'm thinking I should get it removed.

I am in Los Angeles, CA, by the way. Tomorrow it will be 93 here but it'll go down to 69 by Thursday, and then jump back to 80. No rain in the forecast at the moment.

Any thoughts/suggestions/warnings?

Thanks so much!


ps forgive me as I realize I am asking rather than providing info to the original person who began this thread, but as it is related I thought it could be helpful to others looking up this subject. I hope so an if not, I truly apologize!
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Old 04-09-2018, 06:08 AM
Location: NC
6,081 posts, read 7,027,359 times
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Here's the deal on fresh mulch. You do not "compost" it. Composting means degrading it to the molecular level, and you are not after that as you want the fibrous material to sit on top of the soil to prevent light from getting to the weeds and weed seeds. Secondly, you should be more concerned with allowing the volatiles to escape into the air than anything. When you see steaming piles of mulch some of the components are getting converted to growth-retarding (to young plants) volatiles, so it is best to let them escape into the air, where they are diluted so much as to be non-injurious.

So as others have said, a thin layer (2 in) of fresh mulch is fine as it will allow volatiles to quickly dissipate in a few days. Then add more on top if you like, another couple of inches at a time. If taking mulch from a "steaming pile" it might be better to create your own small pile and flip it over a couple of times for a few days, just to let those volatiles escape. If taking much from an old pile (at least a couple weeks old) those nasty volatiles are usually no longer a problem.

High temperatures create more volatiles but they are only a problem if they are not allowed to escape. The key to using mulch well is to keep it a few inches away from the base of the good plants so it will not heat them up or encourage vermin to nest there.
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Old 04-09-2018, 07:44 AM
Location: Near the Coast SWCT
64,988 posts, read 47,303,288 times
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Haven't read through the 2013 posts but I will say that "fresh" wood chips may have oil on them from the chainsaw or woodchipper. Also depending what kind of tree was chipped it may be acidic. Just don't let the fresh chips touch the trunk of the trees/shrubs and you should be ok.
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Old 04-11-2018, 11:31 AM
Location: N of citrus, S of decent corn
34,538 posts, read 42,708,506 times
Reputation: 57184
Originally Posted by Charro View Post
Don't use the fresh wood mulch unless you want termites!
Baloney. Anyone in a termite prone area should be vigilant whether they have mulch or not. We’ve had mulch for years with no issues.
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