Using Dead Cedar Foliage as Mulch

(Question)

I am confused about the uses of fallen cedar foliage. My neighbor and I share a boundary cedar hedge (7 foot high, 20+ years old, zone 5, semi-arid climate, clay soil). The hedge is healthy and drops the normal amount of inner foliage (as described in your article). My neighbor says that this dead foliage is a fire hazard and should be removed. But the foliage seems to be breaking down with normal watering. Can I use dead cedar bits as mulch (either under the hedges or elsewhere in the yard) or should it all be removed? Thanks for your help.

(Answer)

You should be fine leaving the droppings from your cedar trees under the hedge to act as a natural mulch.  As cedars thrive in moist conditions and, you indicate that your hedge is healthy, it is unlikely that leaving the droppings to break down naturally is a fire hazard, unless there is a particularly hot dry summer.

However, in order to appease your neighbour, you could remove the droppings and use them as compost elsewhere in your garden.  This could be done directly or you could first compost them (composted cedar being an excellent mulch) and then re-applying the compost either as mulch below your cedars or as mulch in another part of the garden.