Using human hair in the garden is not a new concept and it’s already had many bloggers discussing its merits. Julie from The Human Flower Project, Dave from Alberta Home Gardening and Elizabeth at GardenRant had all written about it before this article came to my attention.
What strikes me as completely odd, even after reading through these articles, is the lack of excitement for a commodity that is currently wasted by the bucket-load. Unless you’re classed within the masculine form of the human species and suffer from Male-Patterned Baldness we all get our hair cut regularly. This vain activity results in a resource that is completely undervalued and in most cases destined for the trash can.
My mother would cut our hair when we were growing up and swore that it was always good for the roses. Rather than discarding this clump of human waste she would dress her rose bushes in it as though it had some magical properties and was originally created for such a task. As a rose grower she was very successful – which was the opposite of her hairdressing skills – so I wasn’t about to argue with her.
Three decades later it seems that my wise mum might have known a thing or two.
Why is human hair good for the garden?
The main benefit for this resource is using it as a mulch. It’s natural interweaving effect allows water in but reduces evaporating out. It also acts as a warm blanket keeping the soil warm in winter and cool in summer much like its purpose upon our dome-shaped heads.
As it is so beneficial as a mulch it is equally as useful to suppress the weeds. Trials have shown that weeds have to grow around it because they aren’t successful in growing through it.
Many of the articles have discussed human hair as a fertiliser of which I’m extremely doubtful – unless, of course, you haven’t been washing your hair and it now contains all manner of organisms. For most of us though, our hair is devoid of nutritional benefits. However, as a fertiliser trap, human hair is proving to be quite successful.
In sandy soils one of the biggest problems that gardeners face is nutrient leeching. Therefore they are continually bulking up the soil with composts and manures to properly feed their plants. The idea of human hair as a trap is to position it beneath your plants where it will hold nutrient run-off – especially nitrogen – for later use.
I’ve never seen a deer in my garden here in Oz, so maybe there’s something in it after all!
Probably the greatest benefit of human hair as a gardening resource is its availability. While SmartGrow only access their hair from China and India I’m almost certain that people in the US, UK, Canada and Australia also get their hair cut from time to time. Perhaps it’s a regulated commodity in these countries but there’s nothing stopping you from asking your local hairdresser for their weekly discards.
And before you start to cringe about touching other people’s hair consider momentarily that you probably have no issue with building your veggie patch up with animal manures – I know what I would rather handle! Plus, you could always wear gloves if its that disconcerting – just think of all the trees you’ve just saved from being pulverized into wood chips.