Could Mulch Carry Diseases?

Category Mulch
This is a page about whether mulch carries diseases. Some people are concerned that free mulch could contain diseases from sick trees or unwanted pests. Here is some advice about how to limit this possibility.


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Could someone, anyone, solve this argument between my boyfriend and myself about free mulch obtained from the city? I received a large (very large!) pile of free mulch from the city from their wood chipper after they had trimmed the limbs away from the power lines. My boyfriend is skeptical that the mulch might carry diseases and kill plants around which I have spread it. Does anyone know if this is a strong possibility? And, if this may be true, is there any way to treat the mulch to control any disease?

All comments would be appreciated!



July 14, 20050 found this helpful
Best Answer

If whatever was mulched had disease, then there might be disease. It's a chance you take.

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By Becki in Indiana (Guest Post)
July 19, 20050 found this helpful
Best Answer

Sounds like you were able to see exactly what limbs the mulch came from -- is that true? If you saw them trimming perfectly healthy limbs because they were in the power lines, and you know for sure that's where this particular mulch came from, I think you're OK.


If it was just mulch from their supply and you can't trace it back, then yes, it might have come from dead or diseased wood.

To the above poster -- how do you know for sure that you got termites from the mulch? I'm just curious -- I was thinking of getting some free mulch myself and want to consider all the pros and cons. Thanks!

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July 29, 20050 found this helpful
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I am on my 17th load of wood chips (mulch - chips + leaves) that I get from a tree service. This has allowed me to build some beautiful garden areas on my Florida property.

The great State of Florida recommends using wood chips, bark, leaves, pine needles and grass clippings as the main mulching ingredients for Florida ground cover and they recommend this instead of grass. They specifically recommend these as they would be considered trash and would fill up our landfills and unlike cypress mulch (the trees must be cut down in order to produce the mulch), the above ingredients are readily available. Also, in Florida, we have water restrictions for our lawns and they are about to get even stiffer. I have an acre of land that was all grass and it needed to be watered at least twice weekly AND mowed every five days. Now however, since I have planted gardens and use mulch pathways to get around, less than 1/4 acre is still grass. I am using far less water to water my lawn and saving money on my water bill. The mulch also retains moisture around my plants, so I seldom ever water them. Plus, these wood chips will break down over time and become top soil.


I started doing this project when these wood chips became available just for the asking. I like the idea they no longer go into the landfill and they certainly have made my property look much nicer. Before I got these chips, I was thinking of doing this with cypress mulch. But I do care about the environment and knowing this mulch would come from trees specifically cut down just to make the mulch didn't sit well with me.

As for termites, most Florida properties have termites. Termites arent a bother unless they come near your home. To prevent this, I keep all mulch at least 12" from my home and treat for termites.

By the way, I've been using this mulch for 4 years now and I haven't had any problems. If you are concerned about getting the mulch from the city, try calling some local tree cutters... Most of them in my area will gladly give it away for free and deliver it. The tree service I use saves valuable time by not having to drive 18 miles to the landfill and they don't have to pay a dumping fee. They even advertise in the newspaper "free mulch-delivered free." You just can't beat a deal like that. It works for me and it works for them.


Here is a good web site form the State of Florida that talks about mulches.

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By (Guest Post)
February 17, 20090 found this helpful
Best Answer

I think that will vary from city to city according to their standards. Give the Parks & Recreation Dept., or whatever other dept. is in charge of the operation, a phone call and ask them. It only takes a phone call to ascertain whether or not you need to worry and during what hours you can access their supply.

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