From the TPM/IPM Weekly Report for Arborists,Landscape Managers & Nursery Managers courtesy of the University of Maryland Cooperative Extension
>>Hardwood Mulch Shortage Coming? One of the interesting side impacts from the slow down in the housing market is that less land is being cleared. Usually the land that is cleared for housing is hardwoods. This waste product of the housing industry has been supplying the bulk of the hardwood mulch that is used in the landscape industry. There is less available hardwood mulch in 2008 and if the housing market stays down much longer there could be a shortage of hardwood mulch in 2009.<<
So reading between the lines, fewer trees will be killed for McMansion sprawl and nasty hardwood mulch prices will soon increase. The good-for-the-plants-stuff (i.e. pine needles, leaf compost, etc.) will remain steady in price and just as available. The days of almost-free hardwood mulch chips are nearing their end and now landscape crews everywhere can stop pushing mountains of that crap on unsuspecting clients just because it is cheap and abundant. I hear all those trees and shrubs throughout suburban DC singing, "Alleluia."
This picture is from the Public Storage building across the street from me. I came home to this frightening sight earlier this week. The topped and tortured tree pruning is bad enough, but that volcano-like application of bright red, hardwood mulch -- Ack! Somebody on their landscaping crew really hates those trees. If tonight you see some gnomes digging those trees free, please avert your eyes and keep walking.