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Hi I have cut back my rhododendrons and want to know if I can use the chips from shredding as a mulch on the garden. Someone told me that they put chemicals into the ground (don't know if this is true) that stop other plants from growing and I don't know if that would cause a problem once they are chipped. I have a large over grown garden in a recently aquired house and small budget so I would like to use them if at all possible.
I did some research into this and no-one seems to know the answer. Except that , it is reported that the best mulch for Rhododendrons is...................Rhododendrons. The reason ,apparently, why these plants are unhappy in Alakline soil (limey) is that the lime locls up Manganese which they need. The old leaves contain Manganese.
However, they also may be vectors in passing on a nasty disease which is killing off swathes of them, so all in all I would not take the risk myself.
If in doubt, compost it first for at least 6 months. This will break down any growth-retarding natural chemicals that the leaves may contain. If you don't have a compost heap, you could put the shreddings into a black bin liner, wet them, tie the bag closed and poke a few holes in it, then hide behind a shrub etc. for a year. That's how I make my leaf-mould, too.
Raw wood chips take the Nitrogen out of the soil and if fresh contain natural retarders, as Bob says add a bit at a time to the compost heap or the black bags and forget it for a while.I start my new compost heap by throwing woody sticks into the base, this allows air in at the bottom to circulate up and rots the wood down. I am using one heap and filling the other so it has time.Once tried wood chip many years ago and regretted it never did that again,
Thank you Lyn, Berghill and Bob. I think I will take your advice and compost it for a few months Bob and throw some in a bin liner too. And to avoid passing on disease I will keep it seperate and use it only on paths I intend to make through the lawn, keeping away from trees and shrubs. Hopefully problem solved and nothing wasted either. Thanks lyn - its lovely to have a reply and I did think to try more than one topic in order to catch as many people as possible which has fortunately worked.