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We have just had eight large conifers removed (they had probably been there 30 years and some were leaning dangerously after the recent Winter). We are going to replace them with a cotoneaster franchetii hedge. There is obviously a large amount of shredded conifer bits left. Can I use them as part of the planting preparation? I'm also thinking of bagging some to use in the Autumn as a mulch for heathers, pieris etc. What do people think?

If you mix the shreddings into the soil it will rob the soil of nutrients as it rots. I would mix any shreddings up with some grass mowings if you have some, and either compost in a bin, or in a covered pile somewhere to rot for a year. Then use as a mulch around shrubs etc.

That makes absolute sense. I'll do that! Many thanks, fidget bones.


On the same note, I read that you shouldn't use bark as a mulch on new plantings due to it robbing soil of nitrogen.  But it's ok for established borders.  Is that correct?


I use it fresh or mature as a  mulch around new plantings. I find the moisture loss prevention outweighs any loss in nutrients.


Nut is right, and you can always add some pelleted chicken manure or similar organic product at planting time to boost soil fertility.  

Before planting any new plants where conifers have been you will need to add plenty of well rotted garden compost or manure to revitalise the soil as the conifers will have sucked it clean of moisture and nutrients and there'll be a lack of beneficial soil organisms.   Let the soil settle for a few days after digging it all in and then rake, plant, water well and mulch if possible to retain moisture and suppress weeds..

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