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Breaking down cypress mulch

 
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Location: Orlando, FL, Zone 9b, 28N Latitude
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Very new to this.  I've cypress mulch under a lime tree in Central Flordia, and am thinking ahead.  Now that I'm a bit more knowledgeable, I'm not really sure if it breaks down at all or if the soil biology in my yard knows what to do with it.  It's about a foot off the base of the 1" thick sapling, and about 3" deep.  Do ya top dress on top of it annually to get it to break down, or rake it off, topdress with compost/manure, then place it back?  When I get a chipper, I'll make my own mulch from neighbor yard waste.  Currently, I'm making compost pretty steadily, and about to make an anaerobic compost tea (barrel/weeds/water,) and have the stock ready for ~26 gallons of soil bacteria juice (rice water/milk/molasses).  Def would appreciate the perspective about cypress mulch from others as my pre-permi self thought "it was good idea at the time."
 
gardener
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To understand if it's breaking down at all, dig down to the ground level and look for any discoloration, and hopefully some fine white threads (fungal hyphae).  If you don't see that, it's probably not breaking down.  I would remove it, wet the ground and lay cardboard down, and wet the cardboard before returning the mulch.  Seems like there is not that much, so you could put it in a wheelbarrow or in pails and fill with water and soak it overnight.  Worms, if you have them, will love the damp ground under the cardboard, and may help inoculate it, as will beetles ants, and other larger transient critters.  Keeping the material damp is helpful if you want it to break down.  Cypress is known for its longevity and the natural preservative effect of its chemicals, and so will take longer to break down than other woods..  
 
pollinator
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I put cypress mulch in all my pathways, and it's breaking down far faster than I would have hoped. I'd put down cardboard thickly first, then put the mulch over it (that no-float kind), and now there's just rich black with most of the mulch gone. This has taken about a year, year and a half. We live in Georgia, where it's really humid and has been especially wet this year. I hadn't realized cypress mulch was a no-no. All they had the last time I went was "aromatic cedar," which I put in a front bed that I'm not going to be growing much in.

 
pollinator
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One of the most common trees planted all across NZ in the early settler era was the Monterey cypress (Cupressus macrocarpa). Now lots of these old giants are being felled, some because they're dying of canker, but most because dairy farmers don't want them around their cows and heifers, as the green foliage induces miscarriage. So I get lots of macrocarpa shavings, bark, and offcuts, and it's one of the main components of the poultry bedding and mulch around the property. It decomposes in a similar manner to most other softwood, although not as fast as pine.

The thing about most cypresses is that the oils that make them resistant to rot and insects don't stand a chance against the fungi that enter from the soil. Macrocarpa is regarded as a durable timber here as long as it's not in contact with the ground.
 
Diane Kistner
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Phil Stevens wrote:One of the most common trees planted all across NZ in the early settler era was the Monterey cypress (Cupressus macrocarpa). Now lots of these old giants are being felled, some because they're dying of canker, but most because dairy farmers don't want them around their cows and heifers, as the green foliage induces miscarriage. So I get lots of macrocarpa shavings, bark, and offcuts, and it's one of the main components of the poultry bedding and mulch around the property. It decomposes in a similar manner to most other softwood, although not as fast as pine.

The thing about most cypresses is that the oils that make them resistant to rot and insects don't stand a chance against the fungi that enter from the soil. Macrocarpa is regarded as a durable timber here as long as it's not in contact with the ground.



This is very helpful information, Phil!
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