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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Wednesday - May 06, 2009

From: Marble Falls, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Compost and Mulch, Soils, Trees
Title: Should shredded Ashe juniper be composted for mulch?
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Our neighbor shredded some Texas Hill Country cedar trees. Can we use it safely as mulch? Do we need to wait until it composts some?

ANSWER:

We love to recommend shredded hardwood mulches, and believe your Ashe Juniper ("cedar") will be just fine without having been composted first. But we did do some research just to back this up. The consensus we got from other sources was that it smelled good, helped to repel insects, kept the soil cool and was perfectly all right uncomposted. We would recommend that you put some nitrogen fertilizer in/on the soil before you apply the mulch. An organic mulch will decompose, as if it were being composted, and gradually improve the soil texture. However, along the way, it will use some nitrogen. Your plants need nitrogen, too, so a little added nitrogen fertilizer would be a good idea. Just don't get carried away-too much nitrogen will encourage your blooming plants to NOT bloom, which is going a bit too far. Lucky you to have a free source of a good mulch.

 

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