What is the Yucky Stuff in my mulch?
Mulched beds, lots of moisture and hot humid weather are the perfect ingredients for this yucky, sticky looking nasty stuff to appear on mulched beds. These piles of stuff that look like vomit (sorry for being so graphic) are fungi that grow from spores in the wood mulch you are using around your house.
For the most part these Fungi are harmless. But, but, but . . .
Beware of the One that is known as “Shotgun Fungus or Artillery Fungus”!
Those babies are nasty because the actually boil from the inside out and eventually silently explode. They can’t hurt you that I am aware of because the explosion is nothing more than a big splatter, but the gooey stuff inside will splatter all of your house and if you have a light colored siding it will make a mess that is next to impossible to get off your house.
Watch the movie for more about “Shotgun or Artillery Fungus” and right below the video there is a link to photos of what this stuff actually looks like.
Click here for Images of Shotgun Fungus.
These fungi come in all different kinds of shapes, sizes and colors. They are all nasty and yucky, but they are different. Because they are a product of wet mulch, warm temperatures and high humidity they can and will go away on their own in a relatively short period of time. Sometimes I just take a shovel and flip them over to disrupt their ability to keep spreading.
When you apply hardwood bark mulch to your landscape, immediately the landscape has a sharp, crisp look to it. The mulch also helps to maintain a uniform soil temperature and holds in moisture. But sometimes mulch can create an unsuspected problem that many people don’t even realize they have. During the hot, humid weeks in the dog days of summer it’s not unusual for fungi to grow in the mulch around your home. Most of these fungi are harmless to you and your plants. But there is one fungus that can literally splatter your house with little tiny brown spots!
Shotgun fungus (AKA Artillery fungus) is best know for the way in which it spreads. It forms tiny pin-head size bulbs that collect water and other matter. These bulbs are sensitive to light and once the bulbs have fully formed, they explode in the direction of the light spreading the fungus in many different directions.
In a good wind these bulbs can explode and reach as far as twenty feet! The picture above shows the fungus on the side of a house.
This type of fungus is very hard to remove from the objects it adheres to. Sometimes soap, water and a little elbow grease does the trick but it’s very difficult to completely remove it.
The fungus typically grows and forms in wood mulch which is generally why it ends up on your house. At this time there isn’t any fungicide to apply to the mulch to prevent shotgun fungus from forming. What I do to control fungi in the mulch around my house is to simply disturb the fungus as soon as I see it appear. Sometimes I flip it over so the air can get to the underside of it, or if I suspect it’s shotgun fungus I’ll just place a layer of mulch over top of it to prevent the explosive action.
Granted fungi grow quickly in mulch and before I see them the damage might already be done. I wish I could give you better news.
Try to clean the fungus from your house as soon as you notice it to prevent any further damage.
How to remove Shotgun, also known as Artillery Fungus from your house.
Getting this stuff off of your house is not easy, here are some suggestions.
By the way, the donkeys are having a great summer!
Mike McGroarty, wife Pam and their Miniature Donkeys.
Questions and comments are welcome, post them below and I’ll do my best to answer for you.
Shotgun Fungas. I sanded back to wood and then painted over
Hope it works
Unfortunately we have hundreds of spores on the front side of our house. The easiest method we found for windows was to use scrape the spores off gently with a paint scraper, then use a laundry steamer to steam the remaining stains, which then scrape right off with the second pass. Make sure to scrape while they’re still wet with steam. Worked on gutters too, but not on brick or siding, that project remains.
Greg Waters says
If you see this stuff on your siding. I got if off with a pressure washer using the moderate nozzle. If you catch it when it breaks out it will come off easy, if you wait a few weeks it will be harder to get off. I have far too much mulch to remove and put in a pile so I sprayed the mulch with a fungicide to kill it and it worked.
Greg, great point and good information.
Debra Runion says
What kind dod you use?
The beginning of last spring I found a yellow fungus in the mulch around my ginger. The stuff is mobile, it can move.
Best thing to do with fungus in mulch is simple disturb it and it usually dries up. Just flip it over.
What is i spray Clorox on it, will that help it to dry up?
I really don’t know.
ken kegley says
Hi Mike, I took cuttings from my rose of sharen and they are growing in the 2×2 frame with a 1/4 in mess in the bottom but now the roots are growing into the ground can I dig them up or wait till they go dormant and when should I transplant them.they were planted last fall some even have flowered.
THanks Ken Kegley
Dig them out after they have gone dormant, after a good hard freeze, not a frost.
Kay Day says
recently I noticed black spots down the entire side of my house and wondered where it was coming from
I emailed the council and they reported after coming out to have a gander that it is Artillery or Shotgun Fungus
Any tips on how to get rid of this , it spreads right down the side of my house.
I have no idea how to remove these spores, if you find something let us know.
Laura Zarboni says
a product sold at Ace hardware called X-14 wipes it out. it is safe to spray on the house wait about 3 hours then hose it off. its about $24 a gallon.
P.K. Ash says
Hi Mike, there is a product that works very well for shotgun fungus, molds, & litchen, on house, roof, garage, deck, patio furniture, garden statuary,etc. it is called;” Wet & Forget” …it works amazing [ not harmful or toxic in anyway to people, pets, or plants.] You simply spray it on & let nature take over!! ..sun..rain.. it takes from 1 to 6 weeks to work completely… it is amazing stuff …[ I even took it to the century & sprayed it on the family head stones & a few weeks later they looked like they had been power washed 🙂 ! I heard about it on our local “handy man” radio show. ” Gary Sullivan”[ can be heard on I Heart Radio]. Hope this helps lots of folks
P.K. Ash says
that was supposed to say Cemetery NOT century [ hate auto correct!…sorry
Thanks P.K., great info to have.
Marty Bammann says
I encounter this fungus for the first time this year not knowing what it was called. It showed up in bags of mulch I had stacked in the barn and blossomed as soon as I put it on the beds. I sprinkled cinnamon all over it and it died off within 24 hours. Next I just hosed it off the plants.
Verna Clancy says
Mike– After the month we’ve had I say don’t be afraid of clowns. Fear fungi, dust, mulch, bird and bat droppings and cedar trees. We just had a dog to die of blastomycosis. I have a bird feeder in my large dog yard so the cats won’t bother the birds. (Cats are afraid of the dogs. (now dog) My dog houses and lounging spots have cedar shavings, which we purchase in bags at Tractor Supply. We have several cedar trees. All these things seem to contribute to bad fungi and I feel guilty for possibly have causing my dog’s death. The disease is awful and the treatment expensive—but we did treat her and also give her recommended anti-fungal supplements. Naturally, being a little neurotic, I think I’ve seen some of the fungi on the grass in my yard. It’s a wonder people who must dig with their job and on construction sites are not overcome with fungi disease. I have in the past used pine straw for mulch. Is this reasonably safe? I have lots of bushes and trees. I do not mulch around trees but do around azalea and spirea bushes and the dogs are diggers.
Your blog is interesting.
Wow. I know little about that, sorry about your beloved pet.
I have a question. My shade garden has not dried out all Summer. We’ve had a lot of rain. While it is good for my trees – it’s bad for my soil. I use a lot of organic matter to control weeds. I dug up a hosta for my daughter and gnats swarmed out of the soil, like I had disturbed a nest of them. It was a different hosta than normal so she still wanted it but I told her to wash the roots in water and replant. I hope that is the right thing to do?
I searched the web and they may have been fungus gnats? Have you ever heard of them before? I have pure sand soil here, but the raised beds have rich soil & organic matter. I don’t normally do chemicals, but may need to resort to it. Thoughts?
I don’t think I’d be overly concerned, just let nature take it’s course. They are probably harmless.
We had the Artillery Fungus at one of our homes…oh my goodness what a mess it made in a few areas. I first noticed it on my white van! There were a few specks of the fungus adhered to the front of the house, but thankfully, most of it was on a backyard shed and playset. What we learned though was that (1) it often would appear and explode before we ever noticed it was even there, so disturbing the mulch wasn’t a good option for us. I would see what looked like tiny clusters of “barnacles” in my mulch the next day and the damage was done.
(2) You cannot get the fungus spores off of things very easily at all! It takes a ton of elbow grease, and usually a window scraper. It took me forever to get most of the spores off of my van.
(3) The best method we found to prevent or minimize the fungus was to get a TRIPLE SHREDDED Hardwood mulch. We had previously just had regular mulch (chunks). After we switched to the triple shredded, we never had another bout with it again. It could be a coincidence that the batches were cleaner, but certainly was worth it to us!
I wanted to add a couple of comments about this stuff. I never knew what it was called until last year when I researched how to clean it. My husband (also a landscaper – as am I) always called the black spots “mulch mold”. I didn’t know what the actual fungus looked like until just now – from your blog (thank you!) – I have that stuff all over my garden! I have been trying to figure out what the black specks on the underside of some of my plants’ leaves were – I never thought about this because there’s no mulch in my garden. But sure enough, that’s what it is! Those little suckers – the little fungi – are all over in the places that stay damp in my garden, and I’ve seen them in other places too.
SO here are some notes about this stuff that I didn’t see mentioned anywhere, although I will admit that I didn’t read every single post – but I did read many of them!;
1. It grows in mulch, yes, but also in damp places, so not ONLY in mulch.
2. It is more prevalent on the north side of a home, or in shady spots (which can stay damp longer).
3. Light colored cars, siding, etc are more susceptible, because the fungus “aims” for the light when it “explodes” to reproduce.
4. Scraping off the spot and flicking it or dropping it spreads the spores to wherever it lands, so doing this can just cause it to spread more (I just found this out today).
5. This site has TONS of info about it:
CHECK OUT #15 under “cars” – is it TRUE?!? INTERESTING if so!
6. A MAGIC ERASER WORKS GREAT FOR REMOVING IT FROM VINYL SIDING OR PLASTIC – I haven’t tried it on anything else. I do scrape off the “top” of the black spot first with my fingernail, then rub with the Magic Eraser, but I think I’ll have to be careful to catch all of the “tops” in a paper towel or something now – I didn’t know I was spreading the stuff! Sometimes the spots (with their “tops” removed) wipe right off with the M.E., but sometimes it takes a little elbow grease. On the tougher ones, get it wet then come back to it in a minute or two and the M.E. should take it right off.
HOPE THIS HELPS SOMEONE 🙂
Jenn Nodine says
I don’t think I have this fungus problem but I have many deciduous trees so I just use the fallen leaves for mulch in my beds. I stumbled on this subject accidentally and was kind of fascinated by it.
I was going to ask if anyone has yet tried a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser to take the stuff off…those things really are like magic for certain problems.
Good question, hopefully somebody tries it and reports back. I’m thinking it won’t work. Those specs stick better than paint.
fortunatly it was slow enough to get a short message out but it took several tries
Does the mulch need to make contact with the soil in order for the shotgun fungus to form? For the past few years, I laid a few layers of newspaper on top of the soil to prevent weed growth. Since then, I haven’t noticed any damage from the shotgun fungus. Hoping this is the solution to that nasty fungus. Fingers crossed!
Pat, it might help, but I would consider the newspaper a short term solution for sure.
Kevin Anderson says
I have found that a mixture of epsom salts and water to be very helpful in combatting fungus related issues in planting situations. Mix 1 tablespoon +/- to 1 gallon of water. I have found this to be very helpful in controlling fungal issues in my pepper and tomato plants. I think that the salts in the epsom salts reduces the acidity in container plants anyway by raising the PH. The fungal activity actually prefers acid soil.
Mack H King III says
Beware of a gradual salt build up in your soil/medium.
What do you think of non-organic mulching(touf),is it less prone to fungus? And is it climate related , cause over here we very long dry hot summers. Cheers
I’m sure the fungus is caused from wood products containing moisture. I’m not sure about the material you are asking about.
Michael Kreisle says
Great information. We educate our customers on this quite often as we encounter it during out pressure washing of vinyl siding. Very difficult to remove and costly. Some insurance policies actually will cover the damage. http://www.firstchoicepowerwashing.com/services-2/pressure-washing-vinyl-siding-cleaning/
Hi Mike I am in to the pant thing but i am wanting for some money to come in so i will bee getting back with you sane thinks for the videos and all the pant up day dates
thanks for all the info mike, you have a great site, and i enjoy reading it. here in SD im not so sure if we have this fungus problem, but now i will know if it shows up. wondering if anyone has tried vinegar to remove this stuff from their homes? its cheap, eco-friendly, and cleans most anything. keep up the good work mike!
Jared, I think people have tried about everything, but do let us know if it works.
Anis Bootwala says
Hi, mr Mike. I have an orange colored growth in the mulch in my veg. beds. I am presuming it is some type of fungus. Is it dangerous, and if so how can I get rid of it. this growth is also very pulpy and grows to a size of a fist. Thanks in advance.
Anis, I wouldn’t be concerned. Just take a rake and flip it over, that’s usually all it takes to get rid of these kinds of fungi.
JIM ATHERTON says
I have just begun to watch Mikes videos and information and I already feel like he is a good old friend I thoroughly enjoy watching Mike and listening to his advice. I will recommended him to anyone care’s about enjoying life and sharing with others.Without identifying myself I will confess to being a Grandfather of 8 but 0nly married for 46 years and being barely 67 years old. Also will admit to being a Kentuckian and part Choctaw Native American
I too have the miserable shotgun fungus. I have used hardwood mulch for many years. I just raked out all the mulch from around my foundation. There is a layer of earth from the composted mulch on the bottom that is full of earthworms. Is it safe to use this dirt in the vegetable garden or in flower beds that are not near the house. It seems a shame to put this out with the trash. I get your newletter via email and want to let you know what a great job you do. Love all the useful gardening information.
Hi, just walked around my house this morning and seen this on the alumin siding of my house. I did nit know what it was or why or how it got there. I seen this video about 2 hrs. later and was very helpful, Thank You.I love your website. Kristy
Thanks, Mike. Phew! After learning about the problematic state the fungi can put a homeowner’s place into I nearly fainted. I was just getting ready to use some hard wood mulch this year but I think I will skip it and therefore skip getting the fungi altogether. I think I will opt to use something else like lava rocks only after I have sanitized them properly, hopeful that they too will not be carriers of something or have the means to create something alien.
First, I, like so many others enjoy the information and experience you provide your readers and have applied much to my home gardening. Thanks.
Second, I think many jabs are being unjustly thrown at “Bill” concerning his American Flag post. As a retired Marine and father of a serving Marine, I appreciate his comments and find them legitimate. If anyone flies the American Flag it is their responsibility to do so correctly. I do not question your response Mike that the flag was fouled by weather nor do I question your patriotism. Please in the future, for the respect due our national sovereign, ensure it is properly displayed prior to filming; Bill and I would both appreciate it. To those who don’t think its “important”, thats one of the reasons our country is going is “going to hell in a handbasket”.
Again, thanks so much for your service to your viewers.
Thanks for providing the video information, your articles are very interesting and informative.
Loved the video. I don’t have shotgun fungus but another type that springs up everywhere I laid cedar mulch this year. It red and long and the flies love this stuff! I dig it up and I find several ( various sizes) of white balls. Can you tell me what this is, and how do I get rid of it?
I live in central California where we don’t have much humidity. How do you recognize fungus before it explodes? My son-in-law mulches regularly — we call him the mulcher man.
I have had good results with cocoa mulch. but it would dry out and get a crust on it. I think I need to stir it up once a week.
I wasn’t sure were to post this question;
It is not about fungus, but about my copper window boxes. I have copper Juice(for lack of anything else to call it) dripping on and staining my vinyl siding. I have tried many cleaners to get it off not luck. Do you have any ideas? thanks so much Mike.
Thank you for all that you do, especially the gardening knowledge that you transmit to all. I recently bought a special first thornless blackberry plant . It was about 12 inches tall when I recieved it in the mail. I planted it without special attention. It was planted this summer. It now has six runners that are at least 15 feet long. I am amazed at the growth as I live in the hot muggy south within a mile from the ocean,(Panama City Beach, Fl). I can’t wait for next summer to begin picking berries. I have trained the berry bush up on a wall in a trellis manner.
I use pine straw for mulch and have to watch for black milddew spots that I pressure wash off my house each year. Keep up the good work. Gardening is my hobby and we raise a lot of our food. Thanks again, Harold Keown PCB, Florida.
Jeff K says
As a Site Mgr for a car company, we often encounter “odd substances” on car windows. Since Mikes razor blade is yielding poor results, you might wanna take a lesson from my Detailers? The weapon of choice in these situations? Fine grit Steel Wool. Hit the windows with a (preferably foaming type) window cleaner, take some fine steel wool to it after about 30 seconds wait time. Good Luck!
Mike, Iam growing Masamoto persimmon trees. The two I got bare root died and the two I got from a nursery are alive but have something wrong with them. The leaves are turning brown on the edeges and the new growth is turning yellow. It looks like it also has a fungus or insect problem that resembles the spots on rose plant leaves. I really dont know what to do, Ive sprayed for parasites and fungus to no avail. If you could give me a idea on what it might be and a course of action. I would hate to loose these trees also because they cost so much. Sincerely Thomas
Thanks Mike, This is another great piece of information. God bless. AnnMarie
Thanks AnnMarie, my goal is to give people information they can use.
Is it OK to post this on Face Book? I have friends who would greatly enjoy this discussion. Thanks.
Absolutely. Just send them to https://mikesbackyardnursery.com and or http://freeplants.com
Thank you for asking and thank you for sharing us with your friends.
Mildred N. McAnally says
Hi, Mike, I had to cut down a couple of Silver Maples in my front yard several years ago, but the stumps were left underground and I planted flowerbeds over them. But now I have a whole bunch of white mushrooms that come up all over about 1/2 of my front yard each spring and early summer. Are these doing any harm to my front yard grass? Or can I just leave them alone and knock them down with the mower? Thanks for your interesting work.
I have seen alot of this mike. Always wondered what it was. Thanks for the info Mike
Mike, One way I have found to keep the mulch from “Capping UP” is to buy a garden tool called the Weed Weasel. It has four rotating tines, is very easy to use, and does a great job of mixing the mulch which aerates it.
You’re right, those garden weasel type tools do a great job of keep soil or mulch lose in a bed. As long as you get out there and roll it around! I’ve noticed that when just left in the shed they don’t seem to work at all.
As I have a large, older wood siding house am concerned about termites. The way I’ve heard it is use pine or cedar mulch next to your house as termites aren’t supposed to like it. Makes sense as cedar shavings are a deterent to fleas in pet bedding.
Laurie Shotgun fungus is edible. Rather than killing it, eat it.
Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy. I’m not sure that’s such good advice. I think it best to ignore that advice.
Phyllis Poole says
Termite baits are easy to make
Dig a hole about a foot deep and wide. Add newspapers, twigs etc. add diatomaceous earth (de) about a cup full. Sprinkle over the paper and twigs well
Cover with dirt again and mark the location with something metal.
Termites eat wood and therefore paper. When theycome to feast the de will kill them. It kills all insects
Ellen J. Daniels Daniels says
DE really doesn’t do much. It’s touted for mites & lice on chickens, too, but those who have treated infestations know it is pretty useless. It’s so often repeated that it works that people just keep repeating without testing. Also, wear a MASK when using it! It’s bad for your lungs, and for your animals’ lungs.
I recently tried a mold product called Concrobium. No bleach, ammonia or VOCs. It says for use on household mold, I used it on a van interior, had a door seal leak turn into a SERIOUS mold problem. It probably gave me 90% improvement so far and I’m going to treat it again. Don’t know how it would work in planting beds but on cars and house siding it might do well. They have a website, I found it when I was trying to solve my van problem. A professional painter said they used it in attics to rid mold with good results. Hope this helps.
Also, I’m with everyone else, THANK YOU MIKE!!!
lou- WV. says
In just one week- my apple tree has developed Cedar Apple Rust- The WV Extention Office said I should buy Captan and spry it as directed. I am not doubting that, but what will it do to my strawberry beds IF the spray goes over on them?
Is there anything or mix that is natural that I can spray on it. It does have little apples this year and I think it is a granny smith tree.
Thank you – for all of the help you have give all of us !
I really don’t know what affect Captan would have on your berries. I’d ask the extension agent about that as well.
Enjoyed the video very much. Most fungi are harmless to people. There is a specific fungus that grows with mimosa trees that is harmful to humans, which is a good reason to not have mimosas.
Bill needs to get a life, IMO. I’d be more worried about the damage to my house.
Beverly, the orange tube looking fungus might be Chanterelle mushrooms. If you can have them id’d by someone they are fantastic eating! They look like a trumpet, sorta kinda. I lived at a house in Mississippi for many years that had them everywhere in the summer. I ate ’em up like crazy! I worked at a nature center for years in Memphis and learned about them then. If you have enough of them, some restaurants will but them or trade them for credit. I used to go Chanterelle hunting in Memphis and brought them home by the sackfuls. The locals eateries loved to see me coming! They tend to prefer oak areas but seem to grow fairly well in pecan areas, too. Of course, proper identification is THE key when eating any kind of mushroom. There are a couple of look-alikes, but once you learn the difference, it’s fairly easy to tell what you’ve got. A good field guide on mushroom ID is very handy to have around. I sure wish I had them at my house now, because they are so expensive. Good luck in finding out what you have growing there.
Did anyone try bleach?? How does this fungus do on wood shingles? Also, is mulching leaves any better?
My husband did try bleach diluted with water in the power washer. It didn’t budge! He used Lysol and just about every other cleaning product we had around the house and garage and nothing worked.
Joy Stockwell - Ardmore, Ok says
What about using pecan shells for mulch. We put them on our Blackberies last fall and we have the biggest, lucious berries ever. Thanks for all the wonderful and helpful information.
If you have access to pecan shells they are probably great. Less likely to hold the spores that create these fungi issues.
Thanks for explaining about shotgun fungus. We found these black spots on the side of our house and didn’t have a clue what it was. Makes me feel a little better just knowing what it is and what can be done.
…all these years I’ve been spraying what I thought were some kind of insect eggs! At least I’ll save money on insecticides! (You never know what kind of dummies are in your audience do you?) Thanks for your info on this and other questions. I’m glad I didn’t ask anyone about my “infestation” in person!
I’m quite certain that I don’t have any dummies in my audience. You can’t possibly know what you don’t know. My job is to share what I know, and I happen to be pretty good at gardening.
I’ve been visiting your family website for over 10 years, in addition to receiving your e-mailings, getting helpful tips to help keep our Upstate NY home’s landscape one of the best in the neighborhood. And I ALso always “spread the word” about your website.
Truthfully, I visit the site to get tips, not to criticize your videography techniques. The thing about “Old Glory” becoming detached from the pole due to mother-nature’s actions? With no disrespect for the feelings of others, I personally do not become offended — nor should you. It’s understandably an honest oversight on your part. Being a U.S. Marine Veteran in the Viet-era, I have seen many U.S. flags flying in worse conditions, some due to mother nature and some not… The important thing is that you chose to proudly display our Nation’s heritage in front of your homestead, and I respect you for that.
As far as treating the brown specs, I used a kitchen/bath grocery store product called “Soft-Scrub, applied with a white abrasive pad in a light circular motion. Then wipe off with a damp towel. Rinse entire area with a hose after all spots are gone. It’s important to use a white pad as the greens and reds will release dyes as a by-product. I tried this last year and MOST of the spots came off. But don’t treat too much or rub too hard or the paint will come off. I licked out as my aluminum siding is white and I was able to “feather” any remaining blemishes with a light matching spray paint. Thanks for the info and keep up the good work. — Bob Hicks.
Thanks for the helpful tips and your long time support.
Shame on you Mike for considering the use of this evil wood mulch.
Wood mulch came about because the govt passed laws to prohibit it from land fills. Since the landscapers cant get rid of it, a market for ground up trees had to manufactured. you have fallen for the propaganda of the landscapers. Google Dr. Dan Herms
Mulch is a breading place for all kinds of nasty critters, varmints rodents etc. both under and in it. When the wood starts to decay it leaches the needed nitrogen out of the ground, robbing the very things your plants needs. Nature wants to break wood down and to do that it needs fungus and mushrooms. This is just the way it is. Look at any rotting tree in the woods. Wood mulch requires you to an unending battle against mother nature.
I understand that the main diet of termites is dead wood. My parents were told that the wood mulch is what encouraged the termite infestation into the house. They were told to get rid of the wood mulch or plan on having a yearly visit from the exterminator.
The good news is that after 3+ years the wood will have composted, and now it will be ready to use and safe and beneficial to use as a ground cover or fertilizer.
No mulch of any kind should ever be put up against any plant it gives access to the plant for many unwanted bugs. The moisture will keep the bark damp and diseased.
Shotgun Fungus will come off with water soap and lot of scrubbing until it dries. So every day you have to wash your house to keep it under control.
Now for the good news
Tests have found that 2 inches of good yard waste (think leaves and grass, and throw in some coffee grounds) compost provides as good a weed barrier, and provides nutrition and encourages good critters, like worms that will aerate and leave their castings making a healthier ground that will make happier plants.
Put your fall leaves through a shredder and use this as a mulch, it will provide weed control, hold the moisture in. it will also provide nutrients to and not rob from the plants.
Better yet compost it then use it.
For some links
Do a search for Dr. Dan Herms he has been researching wood mulch for years.
Dr. Herms—who is not an organic researcher by any means; he used the nasty chemical herbicide Round-Up to kill the existing weeds in his plots—adds that compost greatly enhances plant growth, while wood mulches slow it down or just plain kill the plants. he says “I use compost to mulch everything in my home landscape”, he told me. “The rich black compost really sets off the green of the plants and the colors of the flowers beautifully. In fact, it looks just like a dyed black mulch—but without all of wood’s downsides.”
And don’t think about rubber mulch it provides nothing and is extremely flammable. Studies have shown all it needs is a lit match and say bye bye to the house.
Richard, I don’t use wood mulch and would never recommend ground up trees as a mulch. But I do use shredded hardwood bark mulch. It pulls little nitrogen from the soil and decomposes fairly quickly and greatly improves the soil. Many wholesale nurseries use hardwood bark mulch in their potting mixes as do I and the plants grow like crazy. You are correct, ground up trees are terrible for plants. Way too much wood, no nutritional value. Hardwood bark mulch is 100% bark, without any wood. It is the by product of de-barking hardwood trees at the mills.
Are there issues with hardwood bark mulch? Yep. Just like anything else there are pros and cons to it’s use. I’m gettng ready to order 20 yards to use in the potting mix at my new nursery because I know the plants will love it.
MB Whitcomb says
There are so many errors in Richard’s comment it is hard to know where to begin. First, the latest science suggests that the nitrogen stealing by mulch is not a significant factor in plant growth. Also, it is possible to have too much compost and not enough mineral components in the soil. Not all worms are beneficial, so making sweeping statements about them being “good” is in error. Shredding fall leaves will also kill beneficial insect larvae. A lot of Richard’s points are good, but it is a mixed bag. Try the Garden Professors for up-to-date science…they reference everything with peer reviewed literature. Ground up trees is one of the best mulches because it is from complete plants giving the plants growing in it a slow release of everything they need.
Grapefruit seed extract is a natural anitfungal, natural germicide that could be helpful. We wash our fruits & veggies in it to sanitize them before eating them & it is safe for that so so it should be safe for the garden. Shaklee’s Basic H is also a nature friendly cleanser, that can be diluted & sprayed & has no harsh detergent elements in it whatsoever. I mix grapefruit seed extract with it to clean out my horse’s water trough & even squirt a few drops to leave in after I fill up the trough, as it helps prevent parasites in the horses.
thanks, Mike, for the fungi info. I live in southeast TN, & there is a LOT of humidity here. I have not mulched yet, & think I will opt for pine mulch.
I have a orange tube looking thing in my flowerbed. Is it a fungus, if so what can I do to get rid of it. Thanks
It’s probably one of the many fungi that can grow in your beds. Just disturb it by flipping it over.
MB Whitcomb says
Identify it before assuming it is bad…fungal relationships drive the decomposition process and soil health…they are not all good, but most are. And the orange ones? Take another look, some of those are really beautiful!
Richard A Irish jr says
Good Morning Mike;
Love Your Web, have read where mulch sets up a possible Haven for Critters, In Erie Pa. we have a mulch made from old ground tires, in your estimation would this be a better mulch to use then ground Bark ??? Thank you for this oppertunity, Dick Irish Erie Pennsylvania
I tried the rubber mulch as a test and I really don’t care for it. It really does nothing for the plants or the soil and it will never go away.
Brenda K says
After you clean the shotgun fungi off of windows–glass scraper and windex–do not use on tempered–only plastic you can make it easier to clean next time by applying rain-x to your windows–the fungi attachs to the rain-x not the glass which makes for easy removal when you clean your windows–just remember to reapply.
The Rain-X is a great idea! Thank you for sharing that with us. Rain-X is not cheap but time is money too! I think it might be worth a try to apply the Rain-X to the vinyl siding and see how that works. They apply a similar product to our cars (if we choose it) at the car wash. It makes the water bead up on the windows and the car. Rain-X could be diluted a bit and put in a yard sprayer and applied. I would suggest doing a test spot in an inconspicuous area first. Just to make sure it doesn’t change color or do some weird thing to your siding.
Sandy T says
Mike, I can’t begin to tell you how much I enjoy your newsletters. Thank you for sharing your knowledge with all of us.
Thanks, that’s always good to hear.
hi mike i love watching your videos and learning thankyou.keep flying the flag, here in england people complain about you flying the flag take care happy gardening. bernadette
Cindy Perez says
I’ve seen this on previous homes we’ve had – thanks for the information, Mike! My question now is, what kind of mulch to use in Georgia?! Termites are a huge issue here, and my bug guy says that it’s not an issue of them eating the mulch close to the house, but hiding in it. I’m planning to mulch all across the front of my house, keeping it about 18-24″ away from the foundation – my current thought is to use slash pinestraw (short-needle) – of course it’s much cheaper, but supposedly it also doesn’t “float away” with the frequent rain. I know it mulches quickly and has to be added to yearly, but isn’t that a good thing?
If you have termites in your area, and I did have them in certain areas around my last house, but I never found them in any of my mulch. But if you have pine straw readily available, use that. I’m not a termite expert, but seems to me they burrow into the ground and are sensitive to light so they travel from the ground up the side of a building in mud tunnels. Can’t say for sure that’s true, need to research it more.
I would be interested in experiances you have had using shredded leaves (oak, maple, etc). They are not as pretty, but they are quite plentiful. Incidentally, I have had bad luck with shredder/chippers, but good luck with a Black & Decker electric lawn mower in shredding leaves. . .
Shredded leaves are great. Even better if you mix with grass and other organics to create a really rich compost. The secret to compost is a combination of both green material (grass clippings) and brown material (shredded leaves). If you were to compost this combination before you use it that would be great.
Mike, thanks for the great info, and I think it’s wonderful that you fly the flag!!
Beautiful home, beautiful garden, patriotic American trying to help others.
I think that Bill guy actually has a CASE of shotgun fungus, hahahaha……
Thanks and blessings to ya!
Dana Bly says
Thanks for the information Mike. Great to know about this problem. I was wondering if you can hear it when it explodes? It is kinda funny if you think about. I’m sure a whole bunch of people were confused about what was happening with all the splaters on the houses. Who knew?
I think it’s a fairly quite, really silent event!
i use mulch,but only until i get my ground cover started on my beds, silver becon and i love thyme..then use peat moss ..for the fungus growth i get on the mulch from time to time, i use full strengh dawn dish soap..it work awesome.
I found the information very timely since I had put new wood mulch all over my flower garden to prevent week growth, but this year I found lots of fungi growing, from small to large “mushroom like” fungi. I did just what you suggested, I disturbed their habitat by turning over the mulch very carefuly, which seems to have minimized the population of these nasty fungi.
Thank you for the information.
May God bless you for sharing your knowledge with everyone!!!!
I live in the Atlanta area and as a general landscaping rule, we do not use any kind of wood mulch next to the house but use pine straw instead. We certainly have an abundance of pine straw here in the south. I do use mulch in some of my shrub and flower beds that are away from the house. That being said, I consider myself lucky that we don’t see this problem here. With our humidity we have enough problems with fungus, mold and mildew as it is. Thanks for the tip of raking the fungus to keep it in check.
USE COFFEE MULCH YOU WILL HAVE NO PROBLEM.WOOD MULCH IF NOT TREATED OR COMPOSTED PROPELY WILL BRING LARGE INSECTS AND TERMITES WHICH WILL EAT ALL YOUR GARDEN AWAY.I GOT JAPANESE BETTLE PROBLEM THATS BECAUSE MY NEIGHBOOR DOES NOT CUT HIS GRASS AND IT IS FILLED WITH GRUBS.WHY DO NOT BIRDS EAT THEM AND WHY DO NOT FISHING BUFFS USE IT FOR BAIT?
Birds do eat the grubs, but in hard ground it’s difficult for them to find them.
I always thought that this mold was “bird’s nest mushroom”. It looks just like it. I love thw newsletter too.
What about using rubber mulch?
I’m sure that with rubber mulch you shouldn’t have any shotgun fungus. I tested a few bags. Holds up forever but loses some of it’s color. Probably doesn’t do much for the plants and not all that good for weed control.
Lisa Trepanier says
Mike, I know they decompose more rapidly, but is it OK to use grass clippings for mulch?
Lisa, grass works fine as a mulch. Give it a try!!!
Fresh grass clippings will pull some nitrogen from your soil as they decompose, but that’s probably not a huge problem. But grass clippings get slimy, slippery and can really stink as they decompose. Not exactly my favorite idea. I tried them in my nursery one time between the rows and all I got was a big mess.
Can left over rice or spaghetti be added to a compost pile?
Louise, rice (and any other grain or cereal) and spaghetti (and any other kind of pasta) are EXCELLENT additions to any properly maintained compost pile..and they don’t even have to be cooked. I have never had any problems using those items and my compost (which I refer to as “noble rot”) is WONDERFUL!!! One problem that you might have (fortunately, I have not encountered this) is that such foodstuffs in the compost pile can attract rodents and other egregious critters. My compost is in a home made wood and wire bin which keeps varmints out and that is probably why I have not had any significant animal problems. MAKE COMPOST, NOT WAR!!!
Yes, but I’m not sure about meat. The meat will have animals digging in there like crazy.
hmmmmm just thought of something…..animals digging it up might save our backs………let them do the work…..lol
MAW "Anna" says
I just love your site. You give such down to “earth” advise. You’ve added so much to my gardening knowledge. Some of my neighbors are amazed at what I know!!! Then I confess and tell them about you! Thank you very much, M
Thank you. I appreciate you spreading the word about freeplants.com, but don’t let me take all of the credit. After all, it was you who remembered what I’ve taught you.
I see the link you provide to the fiungus on google, but i woudl like to see what it looks like in the mulch so i can identify it….. don’t need ot see it on the house… thats easy…..
It’s really hard to pick out in the mulch when looking at a photo. But some of those photos did show it.
I love all the information that you share with us. I was so happy when you identified the Shotgun Fungus for me today. We have it over a huge portion of our home, except the brick and our house is quite large. I was reading through your article and got to the part about how to remove it. You said, “here are some suggestions.” I clicked on that and was taken to a Penn State WebAccess Secure Login. I told my husband, who was excited to see what the solution was to this problem, I don’t think this is right. I clicked on the Login button and the User ID filled in for me but no password. Can you help me out and tell me what may have gone wrong please?
Thanks again for all you do,
Try this; http://extension.psu.edu/pests/plant-diseases/artillery-fungus/faqs
Is the fungus you are talking about the yellow mounds that appear so fast on new spread mulch? If you touch that yellow mound of fungus,, something similiar to smoke will fly up in the air.
I don’t think the fungus you describe is Shotgun Fungus. Here are some images of Shotgun Fungus.
what you’re probably seeing is something called dog vomit slime mold. again, “stir” your mulch to prevent and just throw away the mulch with the fungus. doesn’t kill anything, so it’s mainly a cosmetic issue.
That was a good video Mike. I’ve recently succeeded in ridding my veg garden of fungus using baking soda and nondetergent liquid soap mixed in water and sprinkled over the whole garden. I’m going to keep this regimen up weekly as long as it’s rainy and humid outside as it is now. Maybe it would work on the shotgun fungus.
It’s worth a try. I’m glad you like the video.
I’ve seen quite a few mushrooms sprout up in the mulch in my gardens over the years, but never had one explode! I’ll be sure to watch out for them after this. I think raking or stirring the mulch up periodically is a good idea.
Actually keep the mulch in your beds loosened up is good for the plants and the soil. If you don’t the mulch gets a hard crust and repels water and nutrients. Kept lose the mulch allows the soil to breath and mulch breaks down which is really good for the soil. If you repeat this process often enough and add new mulch as needed, eventually you won’t need to mulch your beds.
Jean K. says
You specifically mentioned “hard wood mulch.” What about pine bark mulch?
Can it explode or get to hot? How long should I wait to use it from the “green”
stage? Thanks for your reply.
Most of my experience is with hardwood bark mulch. I’m inclined to think that the problem is not as great if you use pine bark mulch. A lot of growers use pine bark in the their potting mix, and some of them use it fairly fresh with good results. So I think you could use it fairly green as a mulch.
green thumb says
Soda (bicarbonate of soda) will kill fungus and might perhaps clean off the specks (if they too are mold) I used soda water to clean fungus from vinyl siding which is on the north side and very little sun. I also used soda water from inside a house on walls also. There is no need to have a remediation crew which can cost up the $10,000. There is also a product called BIN, a primer paint with shellac, which will cover stains and not let mold come through again. Soda will also kill fungus growing inside your body, which a Dr. Simoncini says is cancer.
Interesting stuff. Thank you!
Can you tell me how much water/soda to use to clean the siding? That sounds much safer than using bleach around my plants. I need to clean the front of my house.
Roy S says
I have been fighting Shotgun Fungus for severall years. All types of mulch can and will generate this fungus if you have the necessary environment.
What I have now, that DOES NOT generate the shotgun fungus is Pine Needles. Here in New York State you cannot buy bales of the stuff like you can down south, but you can go to various properties to rake bags of it for your use. It acts as a mulch very well!
I can see where pine needles would be much better at keeping fungus at bay. They are more difficult to locate here in the north.
Bobby NC says
I’m in the carwash business and it gets on cars a lot also!
Laura Hays says
There is also a fungus that causes Blastomycosis that grows in dirt and mulch. It appears in Wisconsin, the midwest, Kentucky, Tennessee and the mid-Atlantic. It likes moist conditions and acid soil. It just killed my dog. She had Blastomycosis pneumonia, and by the time it was diagnosed, it was too late for treatment. It would have just prolonged her pain. It can cause pneumonia or non healing sores. I no longer use wood mulch and I lime my beds. I use my well limed compost for mulch.
I’m sorry to hear about your pet, but thanks for sharing this valuable information.
You think this is a problem. Working on the Master Gardener Hotline, we had a person bring in some insects found in her mulch. They were Termites!!!! Spread that around your house.
The termite and mulch question comes up a lot. Having worked with mulch almost daily most of my adult life I’ve never found any living thing in mulch. The piles just get too hot for anything to survive. But I am sure the termites would feed on the mulch itself. I’m just not sure exactly where they orginate from. Most mulch starts out as living bark on live trees. I’m told that termites will not eat live wood. So it’s an interesting issue, and I don’t honestly know the answer.
What are we doing wrong, then? Garter snakes have set up housekeeping in our piles…..I like the snakes, mind you. They eat bad things. Like insects.
Judy E. says
Here are a bunch of pictures: http://tinyurl.com/24anood
Here are some pictures: http://tinyurl.com/24anood
Doris Cote' says
I’ve had giant fungi that defy description, so I’ll try to send a pic. Think the citrus “ugly fruit” is closest but they are fungi and never had them before that mulch. Also black spot on my roses. Nasty stuff in mulch.
Lisa Trepanier says
Could you use a Neem Oil Soap solution? It is organic, will not kill good bugs, but does kill many bad bugs and some fungus.
I suppose it’s worth a try. Most of the unniversities claim that there is little that will control shotgun fungus. But the one thing that I’ve learned in my 11 years of managing http://www.freeplants.com/frame%20set.htm, home gardeners often defy what is considered standard logic. So I say give it a try.
Michael C Myshrall says
I’ve been a home owner for fifteen years, and since that first summer, I have wondered what that next to impossible little speck was! Not only has it dotted my house, but my vehicles as well. Carefully scratching it off seems to be the easiest way to remove them, but most times a little ring remains, requiring some lite scrubbing. Thanks for the info!
Well, I’m glad that I at least answered one of your guestions about the little brown spots. Wish I coud tell you how to prevent it for sure.
I don’t see the picture.
Photos here: http://tinyurl.com/24anood
It also can get you very ill. My father got very sick and it was determined that he breathed in this fungus. It got into his lungs and he ended up with a pretty bad lung infection that lasted a long while. Be careful with this type of mold.
Joan Williams says
I did some minor landscaping about two years ago. I bought, what I thought was good mulch, red cedar. In about 2 months…the bed was full of various weeds. They had not been there before. I am blaming the mulch. So how on earth do you know what kind of mulch to buy. I have a large landscaping project soon and really have no idea about the best kinds of mulch. Can you help?
What kind of mulch you use depends of course on where you live. I’ve never had a weed problem introduced from mulch, but many times from topsoil that I’ve brought in. On http://www.freeplants.com/frame%20set.htm I’ve got some articles about how to combat weeds in your beds.
rent a hubbie says
there is no picture. good luck with the fungi
So….Is there a preferred wood-based mulch that minimizes the risk of fungus? How about Red Cedar? Red Cedar seem ot have properties that discourage insects…..Could it also be “anti-fungal”?
I really don’t know the answer to that. It seems that hardwood bark mulch is more prone to fungus than other kinds of mulch.
so far I hav used the red cedar mulch an I hav not seen any of this “shotgun mold” and hav used it for three years not saying it can’t happen but hasn’t yet
carl, the blueberry guy says
reply to the cedar mulch question. Please. no cedar saw dust or chips. they contain substances
that inhibit plant growth.
the british columbia berry specialist says cedar may be used on berry crops if it is aged for at least 3 years. and do not use chips that contain “walnut” since it contains regolone, a powerful
would a regular regimen of light tilling or raking to ” fluff ” the mulck keep it from forming or would it simply dry out the mulch and thereby keep it from doing it’s job
Keeping the mulch lose would help. Fungus does not like air flow, so allow air to circulate through the mulch is sure to help. Plus it will allow rain to enter the beds and will allow the mulch to break down rather than just crust over.
I have a cedar home that has this fungus. We want to paint over it to make it look better however, someone said it will only come through the paint. Do you know if this is true?
Sheila, I really don’t know for sure, but I’d think not.
As a painter/paperhanger, I can tell you that it will most likely eat right through the paint. Any mold/fungus has to be killed before it can be painted over.
My neighbor is a contractor and he said the only thing that kills mold on cedar is Jomax. We mixed it according to directions. We sprayed it on the side of our cedar house (that was black from mold probably due to bark/mulch we put on our beds around the house a few years ago) We didn’t rinse it off with water. In minutes the mold was gone. Amazing stuff. We thought the house needed to be re-stained but after using Jomax the cedar looked good. We hope the mold doesn’t return. We won’t be barking/mulching any time soon.
Mona phillips says
I i ccalled the agriculture extension of Pr.Wm Co. They suggested 9 parts water and 1 part clorox would kill it. I took it up with a spade, placed it in a plastic bag and put it in the garbage. doused the area with the clorox water. Washed my spade also.
I guess mike is more worried about the fungus then his american flag it shows how little he cares watch you video mike
Well, I guess you can interpet that any way you want. We fly the flag proudly but the wind the night before pushed it up the poll and I didn’t notice it until after I shot the video. I appreciate your positive input.
Hey bill, I give credit for his having the flag of our country. Shows he cares. I’ve had Mike’s emails delivered to my website for years and he’s a very caring, giving, wholesome person. I’m proud to know him, Keep coming back and you’ll be pleased at this generous person called Mike McGroarty. God bless. Ann
Ruth Hill says
Tell Mike you are gardening now and the flag later two things at one time ha .
It’s obvious this must be the only video of Mike’s you’ve watched. He’s a caring, kind, helpful, proud American and his flag waves proudly in a lot of his little movies. We could all nit pick at each other if we look hard enough. Oh, and Bill, please capitalize American to show how proud you are. See what I mean? Show a little love here. We are here to learn fom Mike’s plethora of knowledge. And, Mike, thanks for all you share with us. God bless you and God bless America. God bless Old Glory and long may she wave.
Grow up. Always a wet blanket in every crowd. Find a new hobby.
Mike, I really like your new videos. I read your newsletter about shotgun fungus last year. I’m not very good about being consistent in my gardening and had a problem with it on the front of the house. This year I have replaced the wood mulch with riverstone mulch along the foundation in the front. So far so good. The house is staying cleaner after the rain as well. I’m not sure how I will handle planting and fertilizing with this new system but I like the look and the low maintenance. We just moved to Maryland a few years ago and are still learning what and how to grow things in this warmer environment. I also like your mantis video and think I’ll put that on my wish list.
carl, the blueberry guy says
many fungal outbreaks may be controled by using “SERANADE” thats the current trade name of
the product i use in the blueberries for the control of “Mummy Berry”. ihear that Bayer now owns the company or product.
what it does or what it is, is dried microorganisms that feed on fungus “spores” once they are reconstituted with water in your sprayer. for me it is a “pre need” spray used before and after the berry season. it does Not eliminate the “mummy berry” but it does keep it under control.
i also use it on my green house strawberries to control or eliminate the gray mold that affects
strawberries. i spray the soil in fall, late winter and early spring. the product is available in “grower” size bags and as a ready to use spray in many garden supply stores. it is evidently
organic approved. i spray strawberries when they first flower.