Choosing Color-Enhanced Mulch for Eco-Friendly Commercial Landscaping

Mulch is an essential resource for almost any commercial landscaping project. A thick layer of shredded organic material will protect delicate flowers and shoots, discourage unwanted weed growth, and prevent surface moisture from evaporating and drying out the soil during hot weather.

While basic mulch isn't much to look at, you can also choose mulches that are almost as attractive as the plants, flowers, and trees you plant in your commercial landscapes. Color-enhanced mulches can be used to create a vibrant burst of color. However, it's important to choose the right color-enhanced mulch for your landscapes, as low-quality colored mulch can do more harm than good.

What Is Color-Enhanced Mulch?

'Color-enhanced' is an industry term that refers to mulch that has been dyed to alter its coloration. It is almost always made from shredded timber and/or tree bark, and is available in a wide variety of colors and shades.

Red color-enhanced mulch is particularly popular and is usually created by dyeing timber mulch with iron oxide, the same substance that turns iron objects red as they rust. Black color-enhanced mulch is also common and is most often made by mixing mulch with charcoal or other sources of powdered carbon. 

Other types of color-enhanced mulch can be made by adding bio-degradable, vegetable-based dyes to regular wood mulch. They are less common but can add a distinctive touch to any commercial landscape if you can get your hands on them.

Are Color-Enhanced Mulches Eco-Friendly?

If you choose color-enhanced mulch made with charcoal or iron oxide, you won't have to worry about doing any environmental damage to your landscape. Iron oxide is already present in most types of soil, and can increase the nitrogen content and fertility of soil as it degrades. Charcoal in black color-enhanced mulch can also help to enrich the soil and its absorbent qualities will aid moisture retention during the summer.

Color-enhanced mulch made using vegetable dyes should also be eco-friendly. However, some low-quality, imported colored mulches may be made using toxic or synthetic dyes, and should be avoided.

Some low-quality color-enhanced mulches may also be environmentally damaging because they are made from contaminated timber. Shredded industrial pallets are commonly used to create low-end mulch. Creating mulch from recycled wood may seem eco-friendly, but these pallets may contain traces of arsenic and other toxic timber preservatives, which can leach into soil and groundwater.

To prevent accidental environmental mishaps caused by contaminated color-enhanced mulch, commercial landscape contractors should always source their mulches from a reputable landscape mulch delivery service. Many of these services create their own mulch from scratch and can tell you exactly what type of timber and dyes were used in their creation.

For more information, reach out to a service such as Red Mill Landscaping & Nursery.