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There's a fungus among us
Published by Ed in Tips and Warnings • 3/23/2010 8:31:22 AM
We are about a month away from "real" Spring weather here in New Hampshire and it is time to start thinking about moving outdoors once again. As we do so, there are several issues related to mold, mildew, and fungi that we need to be aware of.

Mulching:

When mulching your gardens and foundation plantings, be sure to keep the mulch away from any wood siding. Moist siding is a great food for both fungi, which causes rot, as well as carpenter ants. Here is a great picture of carpenter ant damage due to just a few inches of siding that was covered with mulch.



Another interesting problem that can be caused by mulching are tiny, brown spots that begin to appear on your home. These are spore packets from the infamous artillery fungus which can travel up to 20 feet. And they don't just wash off. The spore packets literally must be scraped offf, one by one. They stick to anything. The fungus grows in damp mulch that has a high wood content. Be certain that any mulch you apply has a high bark content to reduce the chances of growing this fungus.



Mildew:

This is probably the most common of the fungi that I encounter. From bathroom ceilings, to inside refrigerators, to exterior siding, and all types of deck surfaces, it is everywhere. To test a discoloration for mildew, simply apply a small amount of bleach directly to the discoloration. If it is mildew, it will begin to turn brown, then yellow, then disappear entirely.

Mildew is very easy to remove and a great do-it-yourself project. To remove mildew, add 1 cup of bleach per gallon of water in a garden pump sprayer, then just spray the mildew. I would suggest testing a small area first and be certain to wet any foundation plantings before spraying. The mildew will appear to melt away.



Algae:

Although not a fungus, algae is the green material commonly found on shaded deck surfaces, stone walkways and steps, and siding. Algae is much harder to remove than mildew and will require scrubbing and/or pressure washing. Be careful with the pressure washer, not only can damage wood surfaces, it does a number on the human body as well (been there, done that.)

Algae is also found on roof surfaces. I am sure you have seen brown-streaked roofs.

I am currently testing a very expensive spray-on product, Wet & Forget.

It does a great job of killing moss and lichen, but is very slow at removing brown roof algae. I am not impressed thus far.

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