Tuesday, 3 July 2012


Even with years of experience in a trade,  you can still make the odd silly mistake.   I need a quantity of bark for use as a top dressing for some plant displays that were going on hire.   I was at a well known DIY store and though I may as well pick up the bark there.   There it was with a lovely printed image on the outside of each bag showing meaty chunks of bark in amongst a few fines.   It was a bit of a struggle picking up the bark as the bags weighed a ton, figuratively speaking that is.   That should have been enough of a clue to make me leave the bags where they were and make a trip to a trade supplier but no, feeling pleased with a four for three deal I carried on.    When I later opened one of the bags I was most disappointed to find very few meaty chunks of bark spaced apart in a thick black soup of soaking wet fines (tiny pieces of wood).
I'm pretty sure that within a short time this would have degraded to nothing more than compost.   Great if you want to replenish nutrients in the soil but not suitable for decorative use.   Annoyed at my error I promptly returned the bark chippings and primed myself for the "You can't have a refund for that as you have opened it" conversation whereupon I would have quoted the sale of goods act, misdescription of goods, not of merchantable quality, etc, etc.   The sales assistant would still not have been impressed and I would have to ask to speak to the manager and a similar conversation would ensue, adding that the senior management would not be pleased with the poor publicity as I told the world how poor the product was.   I think I got a little carried away with thoughts of the potential exchange of words because the pretty assistant smiled when I asked for a refund and said "Of course sir!"

I did what I should have done in the first place and purchased the bark from a trade (and retail) outlet: Thompson's of Crews Hill.   The difference in products could not be more extreme.   The Thompson's bark is nothing but meaty chunks, and it smells pinetastically good. It's ideal for decorative use as it is attractive, clean and lightweight.   If used as a weed suppressant it is better than a mulch with loads of fines as the larger pieces won't retain moisture.   The mulch type of 'bark' will retain moisture giving a toe-hold for weeds.

Don't be fooled by the image on the bag when you see bark for sale at DIY stores.   If it's almost too heavy to lift then it won't look like this when you open the bag:

Thompson's bark.   The right stuff.

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