Home Depot Earthgro Groundcover Bark for 5-1-1?

Jay Part Shade (Zone 10B, S21, Los Angeles)January 29, 2014

Hey guys,

I'm about to go in on some serious bark for my 5-1-1 container collection and I want to make sure I'm getting the right stuff. Anyone in California (or the West) use the Earthgro Groundcover Bark from Home Depot successfully? It's $4 bag. I've seen it mentioned on the forums around here, but can't find a definitive word that Earthgro with a little screening is A+. Thanks!

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Oxboy555(Las Vegas)

Is this your first try ever at 5-1-1? If so, my recommendation is to try to get as close to the textbook 5-1-1 ingredients as possible.

I doubt this will be what you want to go "all-in" on if you're serious about 5-1-1. I mean, it will work better than Peat Pudding for sure, but it looks a bit wet, stringy, chunky and sapwoody. You'll need to screen it pretty good and you may only retain half that bag in usable "fines."

I'm pretty sure you can find better quality "pine bark fines" in L.A. somewhere although you can't beat this $4 price. You may have to drive a bit.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2014 at 7:51PM
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Jay Part Shade (Zone 10B, S21, Los Angeles)

Thanks for the info, You're in Vegas, pretty close to me (relatively) what do you use for bark fines?

    Bookmark   January 29, 2014 at 8:22PM
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Oxboy555(Las Vegas)

I can't get them in town here so I have to order Kiwi Bark from the vendor at the link and have them shipped in. I only have 6 or 7 pots going (most of them under or around 5gal) so it's not a big deal/expense for me.

If I had a local supplier, I'd probably have more containers going.

Here is a link that might be useful: Sunset Valley

    Bookmark   January 29, 2014 at 8:32PM
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seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)

What you have can be used in place of peat moss, I think. For 5-1-1 you will need some bigger pieces ( 1/8" up to 3/8") as well, to assist drainage. What you might want to do is to get also SMALL pine nuggets and mix it with what you show in the picture.

I have also got similar crushe pine bark PLUS small nuggets. So I will mix those and might not need any peat moss. I got mine from Lowes.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2014 at 9:17PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Sometimes the Earthgro is good...other times it isn't.
I think it's a batch to batch thing. But one thing is certain - if you find a batch that's good, buy as much as you can ;-)

Josh

    Bookmark   January 30, 2014 at 12:35AM
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Jay Part Shade (Zone 10B, S21, Los Angeles)

Hey Josh, thanks, that's exactly what I was looking for! Good to hear someone else has tried it.

When you say "a batch that's good" I assume you mean bark with a smaller size and no sapwood? Was there something else you look for?

And, if I remember correctly, you or someone else uses the Greenall Microbark, right? It's available at Armstrong in LA. Is this basically the best available you've come across?

    Bookmark   January 30, 2014 at 8:28AM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Yep, the Greenall Microbark is about the most cost effective that I've found. It is more expensive, but there is less waste per bag.

With the Earthgro, the chunks are usually huge....but occasionally a finer-grade batch arrives, and when on sale it is a great price. However, there is more sapwood in the Earthgro than the Micro Bark for sure.

Josh

    Bookmark   January 30, 2014 at 10:32AM
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Starfinder

I use small earthgro ground bark in 5-1-1 mix with great success. Never gave me any trouble.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2014 at 11:12AM
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Jay Part Shade (Zone 10B, S21, Los Angeles)

Awesome, guys, that's really helpful. I just went to Home Depot and got the Earthgro -- yeah, there were a number of bags with larger chunks, but a number that had really fine bark. It helps that the bags are completely transparent. It looked like someone had gone through and pulled out the chunky bags and put them to the side.

For anyone else in Southern California or Los Angeles, you can get everything you need at home depot -- there's 2 cu ft bags of perlite as well as bails of peat. The guy working there knew exactly what I was doing, I guess 5-1-1/gritty mixers come by often.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2014 at 6:31PM
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the_yard_guy(6A)

Jay,

It sounds like you might have found a good source of pine bark.

I have not used Earthgro Groundcover Bark before but I have read in some posts that others have used it with success. As you said the average size of bark varies considerably from bag to bag but I suppose that is true of many brands of mulch.

In years past I've purchased 3CF bags of the very large pine bark for use in garden beds and found that the size of the bark varied considerably from bag to bag. For a garden bed the size of the bark really doesn't matter so much. But for container plants it can make a big difference.

So as long as you screen out the really big pieces of bark and there's not too much sapwood you should be good be able to make a good 5-1-1 mix from that bark.

Good luck with this new bark and keep us posted on how it works. If you get a chance could you post a photo of the bark right out of the bag, before screening? I like to see what others are using for their bark.

Thanks

TYG

    Bookmark   January 30, 2014 at 7:05PM
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Jay Part Shade (Zone 10B, S21, Los Angeles)

Hey TYG, thanks for the info. Yeah, there's definitely some quality differences. I screened the first bag and the Earthgro seems like it's the right size -- barely anything above 1/2". There's some sapwood, but I don't think it's too major and most of it gets caught in the screen. Here's what I'm working with:

    Bookmark   January 30, 2014 at 8:06PM
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Jay Part Shade (Zone 10B, S21, Los Angeles)

Here's before screening:

    Bookmark   January 30, 2014 at 8:07PM
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Jay Part Shade (Zone 10B, S21, Los Angeles)

And after going through 1/2" screen:

    Bookmark   January 30, 2014 at 8:08PM
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the_yard_guy(6A)

Jay,

Thanks for the photos. From what I'm seeing in these photos I think you should be good to go if the other bags are all about the same as this. That bark looks good for a 5-1-1 mix and I would give it a try. The price of $4.00 per bags is good too.

Remember that if you get a few bags that have a lot of very fine pine bark dust you can reduce or possibly eliminate the peat from the 5-1-1 mix. In these pictures I don't see a large amount of pine dust but you might have a few bags that have it. Just something to keep in mind.

I hope to be able to find something similar this spring when the local garden centers get their supplies. Actually the more I look at the photo of the Earthgro bag the more I think that I have seen that in my area before. Of course I was not looking for this kind of bark at the time.

Keep us posted on how you are doing and how the bark works out.

TYG

    Bookmark   January 30, 2014 at 8:36PM
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Jay Part Shade (Zone 10B, S21, Los Angeles)

Good to know about the pine dust and best of luck finding it in your area. You can probably use Home Depot's website and store locator to see if they stock it at your local store. I've found their website to be pretty accurate in showing inventory of what's stocked locally.

FYI, for anyone new to this, big tip: wear gloves, I probably have a dozen micro splinters in my hands and arms after sifting a bag of this stuff.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2014 at 9:40PM
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Jay Part Shade (Zone 10B, S21, Los Angeles)

Also, I should add, the amount of bark that didn't make it through the 1/2" screen was minuscule, maybe 1/20th of a bag. There was a little sapwood, but mostly it looked pretty good right out of the bag.

For anyone else shopping at home depot, check the bags before buying -- there was definitely a difference between the finer stuff and the big chunks. My guess is Earthgro processes the bark and, as it settles, it separates and then they bag it.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2014 at 9:51PM
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the_yard_guy(6A)

Jay,

I've noticed that the big box stores like HD do not carry the same product in all states. This particular pine bark may be available in your area but my local HD might not carry it. Many times i have searched big box store websites for recommended products only to find my local store does not sell that brand. Pine bark seems to vary a lot by region. What's available in VA or CA or TX is likely not sold here.

TYG

    Bookmark   January 31, 2014 at 11:42AM
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the_yard_guy(6A)

While on the Scotts website this morning I did some research on the Earthgro Groundcover Bark. Regarding product availability I found this question and answer from Scotts and wanted to share it with the group.

Question:
The Earthgro Bark mulch is an excellent product, but why isn't it available in Massachusetts? I use it in CA at several locations, buying it from Home Depot. Not available at MA Home Depot's or anywhere I can find.

Answer:
We are glad you like the Earthgro Decorative Groundcover Bark mulch. Unfortunately, this product is not nationally available. It is offered in western states only. All our mulch products are regionally produced. Earthgro has a Decorative Cedar Mulch that is only available in the northeast.

This answer by Scotts confirms that many of these bark-based products are produced and sold on a regional basis only. In my area HD stores would likely have a different mulch supplier than the HD stores in your area.

Thanks

TYG

    Bookmark   February 1, 2014 at 8:44AM
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Jay Part Shade (Zone 10B, S21, Los Angeles)

Good find. And that makes sense -- the sierras and rockies are pine-hearvy mountains. I don't know if there's pine back east, but, if not, it's probably too costly to ship west coast pine to the east. Maybe a canadian company ships pine to the east coast since canada is practically an ocean of pine bark.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2014 at 10:57AM
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the_yard_guy(6A)

Jay,

Yes here in Michigan we have many pine trees as well. Pine bark is readily available here, but as I recall much of the larger "nugget" mulch used in garden beds seems to come from Virginia or North/South Carolina. I will have to pay closer attention this year to see where the local pine mulch comes from.

I still believe that I have seen some kind of Earthgro mulch for sale in my area in the past. What kind of mulch I cannot recall.

TYG

    Bookmark   February 1, 2014 at 12:54PM
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phalanx_viridis

Jay
thanks for posting about this! i use the same exact product from my HD in SoCal with great success thus far! potted my citrus varieties, plumeria, and recently some flowering bulbs in a modified 5/1/1 mix. i thought it was too good to be true when i discovered this pine bark mulch and had to check and re check pictures and descriptions by Al to be sure it was okay. Yes it varies in size/quality but you already figured out a system for that :) I have been composting the bark dust, but leaving it in as a partial peat replacement makes sense and will be my new method...easier

I also add decomposed granite (DG) as a secondary ingredient and it is readily available here in SoCal. The finer stuff needs screening but

After screening, I use the larger pieces of the bark in a mix with coarse perlite and lava rock for my orchids.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2014 at 12:00PM
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OffbeatJenn

My experience echoes Josh's (as it often does), it varies batch to batch. I've gotten some with a lot of pine dust, and I let those batches dry, then use a fine screen to get the dust off. (I've had some issues with hydrophobia with bark, and I think the pine dust may contribute.) Then I add in some bagged soil as my fine component.

And I know you all know this, but please remember to wear safety glasses while you're screening, and a mask. Those micro splinters are bad for more than your hands. Better safe than sorry. :-)

    Bookmark   March 2, 2014 at 8:47PM
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GrowFruitCon

Hi, Jay and others,
Any news with this bark?
And, on the Scotts website, "This mulch includes all-natural premium quality bark, that may include but not limited to pine, fire, cedar, and cypress. "
Is it pine bark? Thanks.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2014 at 1:50AM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Grow,
the earthgro that I've purchased has been Fir bark, but that could be due to the regional availability of Fir bark on the West Coast. In fact, I've never even seen (or used) a bag of actual Pine bark.

Josh

    Bookmark   July 11, 2014 at 2:34AM
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the_yard_guy(6A)

Josh: You have never used pine bark ? I guess that out where you live there are more firs than pines. Complete opposite here, all pine and no fir bark. I did buy a bag of the Reptibark to experiment with. Nice fir bark and prescreened but too expensive for everyday use here.

If I lived out there I'd be using that Earthgro bark for sure.

TYG

    Bookmark   July 11, 2014 at 7:31AM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Yep, I've never used Pine bark :-)

And what's even funnier is that the so-called "Fir" bark that I use is typically from Douglas Fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii), which isn't even a true Fir tree!

Josh

    Bookmark   July 11, 2014 at 12:38PM
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the_yard_guy(6A)

Ha, that is funny. Ironic actually. I've never seen fir bark here, besides Reptibark but have heard lots of great things about it.

TYG

    Bookmark   July 11, 2014 at 3:43PM
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