Pine bark search

the_yard_guy(6A)April 14, 2014

Good afternoon everyone. Haven't been on here in a while but good to be back.

Today I went to a few of the big box stores in my area looking for roofing materials. While there I took a quick look at the garden sections of each store for pine bark for use in both the gritty mix and 5-1-1 mix. I went to WalMart, Lowe's, Menard's, and Home Depot. I found nothing usable at any store.

WalMart and Home Depot had no pine bark of any kind. Nothing at all. Lowe's and Menard's had one or two types of pine bark, but much too large for any use in container gardening. The pieces were about 3"-4" in size. One garden center worker at Menard's told me that whatever I saw today is all that they were going to get this season.

What I did see everywhere were dozens and dozens of pallets of cypress and dyed sapwood mulch in 3 or 4 different colors. Every store had hundreds of bags of this stuff and the prices were as low as $2 or $3 per bag. I know we are not supposed to use cypress or the dyed sapwood in our containers but I've never seen so much of this stuff at every store. From what I saw today, cypress and the dyed sapwood mulch seem to be replacing pine bark at most of the stores in my area.

It's still early so maybe I will find pine bark at a specialty garden center this spring. From what i saw today the big box stores in my are won't be any help when it comes to supplying pine bark for the 5-1-1 or grit mix.

Thanks.

TYG

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brian6464(4a)

My experience in the Minneapolis area is that no big box stores carry the kind of pine mulch you need to make 511. Pine fines are just not a big seller in the upper Midwest. I have found the nurseries and specialty landscapers are the best bet. I have two in my area where I can buy pine fines by the cubic yard for around $36.

Stay away from the big box store stuff.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2014 at 11:48PM
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ajohnsonMN(4b)

I just completed a multi week search at those big box stores and several nurseries. I finally found pine bark fines at Gertens in Inver Grove Heights, MN. I haven't opened the bags yet ($5) but they look perfect (at least that is what I thought after seeing what they call mini nuggets everywhere else).

    Bookmark   April 15, 2014 at 12:31AM
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neuf(5 Indy)

I am new to 5-1-1 so I have been in the same boat trying to find pine bark. I was able to find some pine bark mulch that is generally good, but apparently needs to be screened at two bulk mulch outlets. Maybe you have something like that in your area?

Jeff

    Bookmark   April 15, 2014 at 5:48AM
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Ohiofem(6a Ohio)

It makes me sad that so many people are putting that died stuff and even rubber mulch on their yards. Most of that mulch is made from old wooden pallets, junk wood and tires. It's going to ruin their soil. I really encourage people to look for locally owned garden centers, landscapers and hardware stores. The more we shop at the big box stores the harder it is for the little guys to survive.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2014 at 9:59AM
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rockyonekc

I have found pine bark fines locally under the name of "soil conditioner". It came from one of the local nursery's, but is reasonable priced at $6.99/2cft.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2014 at 2:10PM
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alley_cat_gw

What are the negatives about dyed mulches? I havnt heard of any. Someone remarked it will ruin the soil.
Is there any facts on it?

Al

    Bookmark   April 15, 2014 at 2:16PM
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Ohiofem(6a Ohio)

I don't have definitive proof that dyed wood mulch will ruin your soil as I said above. But I'm pretty darn suspicious that it will. The problem is not the dye so much as the material that is used for making it: ground-up wood pallets, packing crates and other waste wood, possibly including wood from demolished buildings. Older wood may have been pressure treated with chromated copper arsenate, a substance that contains arsenic which wasn't banned until 2002. Painted wood may contain lead. Even if you get dyed wood mulch that is certified safe, it's usually hard wood. Unlike pine bark, hardwood chips will rob your soil of nitrogen and attract pests like termites, artillery fungus and slime molds.

Here is a link that might be useful: Do colored mulches harm plants?

    Bookmark   April 15, 2014 at 3:53PM
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brian6464(4a)

ajohnsonMN,

Another great source in the Mpls areas is a place near Waconia called Pine Products Inc. They carry both bagged Pine Fines and sell it by the cubic yard. So if you are on the west side of this city, this would be closer than Gertens.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2014 at 4:28PM
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the_yard_guy(6A)

Hey everyone, thanks for the posts. I did take a look at one local nursery (not a "big box" store) but they didn't have all of their mulch products in stock yet. They did have several pallets of cypress mulch, but no pine. So the pine bark mulch/fines/soil conditioner search continues.

Interesting to note that both Menard's and Meijer's (a regional grocery store) carry the Golden Trophy brand of cedar and cypress mulch, but no pine bark at all. I believe Ohiofem said that her brand of pine bark is Golden Trophy, so thought I'd mention it.

I've never seen so much cypress mulch in previous years. The strange thing is that here in the upper Midwest we have millions of pine trees but not very many cypress trees, so I'm assuming these mulch companies are shipping in huge quantities of cypress mulch from other states. It must be that cypress is cheaper to bag, transport, and sell than pine bark produced locally.

I agree with Ohiofem regarding the use of that dyed wood mulch. Of course we shouldn't use that in our container growing, but I don't think I'd want to use it in my garden beds either. I don't have any definitive proof that it's harmful but that wood is very shredded and probably comes from all kinds of sources. Since mulch companies sell those bags of shredded and dyed mulch for only $2 or $3 per bag, no wonder so many people buy it.

TYG

    Bookmark   April 15, 2014 at 7:44PM
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docmom_gw Zone 5 MI(5)

I'm not a container gardener, but was lurking for fun. As I read, I am wondering about using shredded leaves as an additive to container medium. I have more oak trees than I know what to do with. We have a motorized shredder that grinds the leaves down to a lovely texture. Those who don't have their own leaves could travel through shady neighborhoods in late fall to pick up bagged leaves left at the side of the road. I've even rented a moving truck for a few hours to collect hundreds of bags before I had my own. You can also rent the shredders and make enough leave mulch to keep you going for a few years at a time. Maybe someone could even go into business providing a valuable additive to both containers or traditional gardens.

Martha

    Bookmark   April 16, 2014 at 7:46AM
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charina(6b)

Here in UT I was unable to find suitable pine bark for 5-1-1. There is lots of soil conditioner made from 100% composted pine bark fines, but it generally is too fine, too composted, to allow for good drainage. Acts more like peat. The next size up that could be found at any store or nursery within 25 miles was the mini pine bark nuggets ranging from 1/2 to 1 inch. There was nothing in between.

I happen to have an old craftsman 8hp shredder/chipper, so tried running the mini pine bark fines through the shredder side. Worked great! It's not composted, but the resulting size mix is perfect. I was able to run 2 yards through it in about 30 min.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2014 at 10:53AM
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iandyaz(Zone 9B - QC)

I found smaller bags of "orchid bark" at Lowes that I used last fall and it seems ok so far. The pieces are a little bit on the larger side (some 1/2" pieces). I read someone went to Petsmart and bought something called Repti Bark and I think I'll try that.

If anyone in Arizona (Chandler area) has found a good source of this, let me know.

Just wanted to update this. I checked out the bark at Petsmart and it has bigger pieces than the orchid bark I got a Lowes, so the Orchid Bark is still the best I've found for the 5-1-1 mix.

This post was edited by iAndy on Thu, Apr 17, 14 at 17:58

    Bookmark   April 17, 2014 at 2:11PM
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the_yard_guy(6A)

Andy,

Thanks for the info on the "orchid bark" at Lowes. I'll look at this next time I'm there. Can you tell us how large a bag it is and what you paid for each bag? You mentioned the size being a bit large, around 1/2" or so? Is that the "average" size of the bark pieces or are just a few of them 1/2"?

I have a small bag of the ReptiBark and it looks good right out of the bag, but some list members here suggest it's a bit too large for Al's container mixes. From a price standpoint I know ReptiBark is not economical for anyone with more than a few containers. It's very expensive compared to the 2CF or 3CF bagged mulches.

Next weekend I am planning a trip to several specialty garden centers in my general area and I hope to find a few large bags of usable pine bark.

Thanks.

TYG

    Bookmark   April 19, 2014 at 8:23AM
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edweather(Zone 5a/b Central NY)

Keep looking for the right stuff. Don't go broke buying little bags of bark. You'll eventually find it. Check out the mulch/top soil suppliers.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2014 at 10:15AM
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