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6 Things You Should Know Before Purchasing Dyed Mulch

6 Things You Should Know Before Purchasing Dyed Mulch

Color enhanced mulch can be a great way to turn your neighbor’s heads.  There are many misconceptions out there about dyed mulch so if you’re thinking about purchasing it here’s what you should know:

  1.        Is mulch dye safe for people, plants and animals?  Most mulch colorant is completely safe.  Usually red mulch colorant is made with Iron Oxide and black mulch colorant is Carbon Black.  Both materials are safe for people, plants and animals in the landscape.    
  2.        Is dyed mulch really made of old pallets?  Dyed mulch is not necessarily made with pallets.  It depends on the company who produced the mulch.  Often, a pallet company will take the leftover pieces that can’t be used to make a pallet and grind it into mulch as a pallet byproduct.  In this instance, the wood hasn’t been treated with chemicals and nails haven’t been driven in to the boards so it’s safe to be used as mulch. 

If your mulch was produced by a tree company then pallet waste would not have been used.  They, instead, would have used chips produced from their tree jobs.  Both of these options produce all-natural mulch. 

Both pallet byproducts and arborist chips that haven’t been aged are best for producing brighter shades of color enhanced mulch such as Dyed Red or Dyed Gold.  Darker shades of mulch are produced best with aged chips as they are darker in color to begin with. 

  1.        Is dyed mulch made with construction debris?  If your mulch came from a reputable distributor the answer is absolutely not!  Unfortunately, when large scale demolitions occur there’s a need to dispose of all wood-related products.  The easiest and most cost-effective way to do this is to grind the debris and sell it.  The only way to be able to pass it off as a natural product is by dying it.  This can be dangerous for people, animals and plants as treated or painted wood contains harmful chemicals.  Mulch produced by a pallet or tree company would not contain any type of construction debris.
  2.        How long does the color last in dyed mulch?  A general rule of thumb would be that color enhanced mulch lasts for one season (spring through fall), however, some darker shades can still look nice starting out in the next season.
  3.        Is dyed mulch mold resistant?  Some of the better colorants have an additive that increases the longevity of their color.  This additive also makes it more difficult for mold and fungus to grow on mulch. 
  4.        Will colorant dye wash off?  High end mulch colorants are designed to adhere to the mulch and should not wash off.  When applying mulch there will be some color left on your hands, so gloves are recommended.  This color is due to the particles of mulch left behind.  Once the mulch is in place and not disturbed the colorant will not wash away, however, it will fade over time. 

The best way to avoid unnatural or unsafe dyed mulch is to purchase directly from the producer whenever possible.  In doing this, you can rest assured that your mulch was produced without construction debris using high quality, safe colorant.   

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