The Q&A Archives: Red Mulch

Question: I have a very small gardening biz and one of my clients spread red mulch earlier this year and then called me to plant a few things in her garden. As it turns out, bermuda grass has infiltrated the beds and everything has pretty much died, i.e., wave petunias, 3 clematis, 3 hostas. Any thoughts on why everything died? and other than pulling out the bermuda grass forever, how can it be destroyed? k

Answer: I wonder if the rubber mulch absorbed and radiated too much heat for the plants? Organic materials such as bark nuggets or chips are not as solid as the rubber mulch and may not react the same way in the sunshine. I can't think of any other reason for an adverse affect on plants unless your client spread a pre emergence product before laying the mulch. Pre emergents stop weed seeds from germinating by releasing a gas - I wonder if it was trapped beneath the rubber mulch as opposed to being able to dissapate through more conventional ways and therefore harmed the plants? Bermuda is persistent. A pre emergent should control reprouting once you pull out the existing plants. Wish there were an easier solution!

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