Tuesday, January 8, 2013

A Resolution Regarding Mulches

Introduced May 5th, 2009 to the City of Grants Pass

WHEREAS the City of Grants Pass is officially concerned with insuring that the water that runs off into our river is as clean as practically possible;
WHEREAS water that absorbs into soil is not carrying pollution into the river, but is recharging our groundwater;
WHEREAS the City of Grants Pass has written regulations on new development specifying bio-swales and other means to absorb runoff and recharge groundwater;
WHEREAS soil that supports earthworms, ants, pill bugs and other soil life is much more absorbent and percolates water into the ground more easily than soil that does not support soil life;
WHEREAS different mulches have different effects on soil life, some feeding the soil, some simply covering the soil, and some being reported to kill soil life;
WHEREAS the City of Grants Pass has repeatedly been admonished for spreading cheap soil-killing finely-ground bark mulch on its properties;
WHEREAS the City has better, cheaper mulches available, including free mulch from its trees in the form of leaves and wood chips, as well as its own commercial compost, Jo Gro, that feed soil rather than killing it;
WHEREAS the City has, in the past, use weed-barrier cloth or black plastic weed barrier under bark, and;
WHEREAS such artificial weed barriers have also been reported to kill soil, do not stop weeds from growing, and nearly always show and look ugly;
WHEREAS City staff requires direction from the Council regarding proper mulching of City property;
BE IT THEREFORE RESOLVED:  the City of Grants Pass shall obey the following regulations regarding mulching on City property:
1.      The City shall use leaves in place as much as practicable, preferentially leaving leaves on the soil around trees and shrubs and blowing them onto the soil up to 2” deep.
2.      The City shall use Jo Gro, its own commercial compost, to restore soil life on City property where fine bark has previously been spread, and on new construction. 
a.       Where Jo Gro is not available, the City may use other commercially available compost.
3.      Rather than removing leaves from soil, the City may cover the leaves with Jo Gro, wood chips, wood mulch, or bark mulches that do not kill soil.
4.      The City shall test different grades of bark intended for use as mulch to see if they will support soil life: 
a.       The mulch will be tested for two to four months on a piece of live, fertile soil at least 6 feet square, spreading the bark 2” deep and keeping it moderately watered from above; 
b.      The City shall contract with a certified organic farmer for the testing;
c.       The City shall likewise test any mulch that is reported to kill soil; 
d.      Material that does not support soil life shall not be used on City of Grants Pass property for mulch.
5.      Weed barrier cloth or black plastic sheeting shall not be used as or under mulch on City property;
a.       Where weed barrier cloth or black plastic sheeting is presently being used under mulch, it shall be removed within one year from the effective date of this resolution.

  Rycke Brown, Natural Gardener            541-955-9040         rycke@gardener.com

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