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Old 03-21-2009, 02:23 PM   #1
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Default Cypress-Mulch Industry Threatens Our Wetlands

Cypress-Mulch Industry Threatens Our Wetlands

Honey Island Group, Sierra Club -- Cypress-mulch industry threatens our wetlands
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Did you know that your next work in your yard may contribute to the irretrievable and unnecessary loss of Louisiana wetlands?

Your local home-products-warehouse store or garden center may be selling horticultural mulch made from ground-up young cypress trees! This is not the residue of lumber production; wetlands and marshes are being cleared of immature cypress, just for the immediate financial gain of the harvesters.
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Many buyers think that cypress mulch is termite resistent. This is not true for such young trees and when ground up for mulch!

Cypress mulch is receiving such a bad reputation that some manufacturers are repackaging it as 'Red Mulch'. Please don't be misled; it's still the same thing.
We have a thread discussing wildlife friendly mulches here:
Wildlife Friendly Mulches
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Old 03-21-2009, 02:25 PM   #2
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The issues have been allowed to polarize.
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Vested interests are trying to recast this whole issue into extremes and so avoid effective discussion on its true merits. This has little or nothing to do with what homeowners can do in their own backyards! It does have everything to do with whether we're going to exhaust our environment as we did a hundred years ago -- and whether we choose to save something for our children.
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Old 03-25-2009, 12:41 AM   #3
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As well they should. Sometimes polarisation is a good thing.
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Old 03-25-2009, 06:11 AM   #4
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When I learned that cypress trees were cut specifically for mulch, I stopped buying it as well.
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Old 03-25-2009, 09:53 AM   #5
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I'm still learning but it seems to me that shredded wood mulches of any kind are often mis-used. So many people like that neat finish a shredded wood will give the greatly spaced newly planted garden and I understand that. But a wood mulch does not seem appropriate except around trees and shrubs and then only at the outer edges away from the base of the plants.
In a class at tree keepers here in Chicago the presenter discussed how tree debris encouraged a fungal/ more acidic atmosphere in the soil, where herbacious plant debris encouraged a more bacterial /alkaline dominated soil.
Hence the decaying mounds of shredded wood around trees where roots grow into the moisture absorbing mulch and the bark is protected from machinery.
But roots of herbacious plants need to spread out and down deep into the soil.
Many insects live in that soil and can not penetrate the woody mulches. This may seem like a good idea but the beneficial insects will be effected as well.
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Old 03-25-2009, 12:25 PM   #6
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I use hardwood mulches exclusively around my trees and shrubs. Not so much around other plantings. I don't necessarily disagree with the comments made by the presenter but... I don't believe the pH would be altered to the extent we would have anything to worry about around tree bases. I prefer pine straw mixed with anything I can get my hands on around recently planted forbs.
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Old 03-25-2009, 01:07 PM   #7
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Nothing is easy and perspective is everything. The cypress mulch industry took what seemed like a good idea,mulch that takes longer to break down and does not need replacing as often, and disregarded consequences.
I read that cypress trees take 75 years to become a good usable hardwood. And that it is a part of wetland erosion control and a pollution modifier. This in addition to a native habitat for many species.
Loggers practically wiped out these trees once already a century ago, we do not want that to happen again.

My perspective is to create as natural a space as possible for wildlife habitat. What would be most likely to accumulate beneath any given community is what I try to emulate.
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Old 03-25-2009, 07:48 PM   #8
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You raise an extremely valid point, "My perspective is to create as natural a space as possible for wildlife habitat. What would be most likely to accumulate beneath any given community is what I try to emulate." The shrub and tree saplings I use the hardwood mulch around are not conifers. Once they are established I don't bother to mulch them.
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Old 03-26-2009, 09:53 AM   #9
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Cypress grow in river floodplains and in lowland wetlands.Water and sea level (less than 100 ft above sea level)seem to be determining factors.

A few sites with information about cypress.
Natural Heritage Program - RTE Plants - Bald Cypress Swamps

Cypress Dome Habitat


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Cypress ponds are depressions in the ground that have the ability to hold more water than soil of the same volume. Runoff from storms can be stored in cypress ponds making them excellent flood control prospects (Ewel 1990). After the rainy season ends and water tables in surrounding soils drop rapidly, these ponds can also contribute to recharging groundwater. It is not clear yet, however, how purposely directing urban runoff to ponds might impact plant and animal communities in the ponds.

How (Not) to Prevent the Next Hurricane Katrina : TreeHugger

Louisiana's Mulch Madness | Mother Jones
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Old 03-29-2009, 11:03 AM   #10
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Nice link on how (not) to prevent the next hurricane.
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