As much as we like using arborist wood chips for mulch, we have concerns because the wood chips could spread Sudden Oak Death (SOD) to our coast live oak trees if infected plants are included in the load of wood chips.
Rather than bringing in mulch, we are using our oak leaves as mulch. The leaves of the coast live oak (quercus agrifolia, a California native plant) are thick and hard, so they don’t break down easily. We’re running the leaves through a leaf mulcher to break down the leaves. In the photo below, the mulched oak leaves are beige. This part of our yard has no oak trees and is sunny, so we brought in mulched oak leaves to help retain moisture and moderate the heat.
In this crop from the previous photo, you can see the gray wood chips and the beige oak leaves. We expect that the broken oak leaves will decay quicker than if they remained whole, once it starts raining again.
The shrub on the left is an Arctostaphylos Sunset, a manzanita named after the Sunset magazine. A California native plant, the Sunset manzanita has glossy green leaves and small pink flowers. After seven years, it’s 3′ high and 5′ across. We use the Sunset manzanita to cap some large mounds. It’s easy to grow. We like it and have planted more.