Mulching for a Healthy Landscape

Neatly mulched beds not only improve the appearance of any landscape but they also provides other benefits, such as, protecting your plant’s root systems, adding nutrients to the soil and slowing down the erosion of topsoil.

What Type of Mulch To Use

It really depends on the use and mostly personal preference.  The most common mulches used today are pine needles, wood chips and bark chunks. The wood chips can come in a variety of colors.

One thing you might want to consider is the cost and availability.

How To Mulch Your Landscape

Knowing how much mulch to use can be tricky.  Typically a 1 to 2-inch layer of mulch should be fine, but coarser material like bark chunks should be 3 to 4 inches. Too much of either type can suffocate your plants so be careful.

Coverage will vary greatly based on what type of mulch you use and how deeply it’s layered.

  • When the weather gets warm, we’re always in a hurry to get our landscape looking its best, so we pile on the mulch. Don’t put mulch down too early in the spring. Give the soil a chance to warm. Mulching too early will actually slow down the warming process. Normally, mid- to late spring is the best time to put down mulch.
  • The area needs to be weed-free before mulching.
  • To prevent stems and bark from rotting, pull mulch away from woody stems and tree trunks 1 to 2 inches. Also, if mulch is touching the plants, pests — such as mice and slugs — can find a great hiding place and a free lunch.
  • In general, the bigger the pieces or chunks, the deeper the layer needs to be. Smaller-sized mulches will work their way into the soil more quickly.
  • Seedlings can work their way through a thin layer of mulch, but too deep a layer could be impenetrable. Let your plants get off to a good start first. You can always add more after the plants are established.
  • Mulch that’s too deep will stimulate root growth in the mulch layer rather than in the ground. The resulting shallow root system is susceptible to cold and drought damage.
  • For looks, consider the size and style of the area you’re putting the mulch in. For example, pine bark nuggets may be too large for a bed of annuals but perfect for an area around trees or shrubs.
  • Pathways, slopes and areas prone to flooding or high wind need special consideration. Consider using a heavier or larger material here.
  • You may need to apply additional mulch in the summer to retain moisture and in the winter to insulate from cold.
  • If your garden has a layer of winter mulch, pull it away gradually as the temperatures warm. If you remove it all at once, the tender, new growth underneath could be affected by a late-season cold snap.
  • If you wish, you can work most organic mulches into the soil at season’s end to improve the soil.

If you need help with your mulching needs give Dave a call at 678-995-3141.

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