A few years ago while I was visiting some clients, I saw what looked like black paint dots all over their white porch and siding, as high up as 10 feet. I wondered how the “paint spots” got there. As I found out, it was NOT paint.

I later discovered the culprit was Artillery fungus, a side effect of mulching with conventional, shredded hardwood mulches, dyed or natural. The fungus is ubiquitous in garden center hardwood mulches. In these hardwood mulches, the fungus produces masses of small grayish balls that emerge after a few months and burst open, releasing their contents. The contents are black, sticky spore packets. They can be shot up to distances of 6 meters and stick to whatever they hit. Yuck! Furthermore, they don’t come off on their own. Although they don’t harm plants, walls and decks are another matter.

I have never observed this phenomenon with any of the Pine mulch products, such as Pine straw (photo below right) or Pine bark mulch. Resistance to fungi is just one of the many reasons we find Pine mulch products to be much better choices for healthy, beautiful gardens!

–Contributed by Sean Kramer

HL Garden Care Manager