hazelnut-shells

Hazelnut Shells as Mulch

It’s a wise gardener who appreciates the art of repurposing. Whether you grow hazelnuts or live near a commercial grower, why not put their shells to use after the harvest? Like pecan shells, hazelnut shells make an organic mulch that helps keep the soil moist, cool and free of weeds. To learn if to hazelnut shell mulch is right for you, read on!

Hazelnut Mulch Features

Hazelnut shells make mulch that is:

  • Lightweight and much easier to manage than bark or wood mulches.
  • Composed of nutshell halves with jagged edges that repel slugs, snails and wandering cats.
  • Much slower to decay than other mulches. Expect it to last from five to seven years before it needs replacing.
  • A rich amber shade that contrasts strikingly with green plants.
  • An effective organic soil amendment. When worked into the soil, it improves drainage and aeration.

Hazelnut Mulch Drawbacks

When it comes to using hazelnut mulch, what’s a feature in some circumstances may be a bug in others:

  • Because wind or water dislodge the lightweight shells, it’s best to use them only for level surfaces such as walkways, garden beds and containers.
  • Unlike bark, wood and pecan shells, decomposing hazelnut shells don’t add nutrients to the soil.
  • As harvest by-products, the shells are a seasonal product and need to be stored if you’re not ready to apply them when they’re available.

Expert gardener’s tip: For mulching sloping ground, inorganic materials such as gravel or river rocks is best.

Where to Find Hazelnut Shells

If you’d like to collect hazelnut shells in the wild, the shrubs and trees(Corylus spp.) grow in USDA plant hardiness zones 3 through 8 or 9, depending on variety.

In the United States, nearly all commercially grown hazelnuts come from Oregon. After the late-summer harvest, their shells are bagged or boxed as mulch and sold at nurseries and farmer’s markets in the Northwest or online.

Expert gardener’s tip: Their limited availability makes hazelnut shells one of the most expensive mulch materials. Purchasing them in bulk directly from a grower will get you the best price, but only if you have a vehicle to transport them.