As we upgrade the landscape during the spring and add new plants, we keep consistency in mind, so our yard looks fabulous and well-put together. Mass plantings and focal points in the yard benefit significantly from a covering of attractive mulch. Use the same product for all your beds to add a uniform appearance. Mulch offers many other benefits.
- Helps hold in and conserve moisture
- Shades weed growth to keep them from sprouting
- Insulates plant roots, keeping them somewhat cooler in summer and warmer in winter
- Breaks down to improve soil and provide nutrients to plantings
Types of Mulch
Natural mulches come in a range of varieties and improve the soil as they deteriorate. Mulch, applied in spring, continues to give back through the rest of the year. Give some thought to the type of mulch that will most benefit your landscape.
Hardwood chips or bark: This mulch is best for the majority of plants you’ll grow. It provides alkalinity as it tidily breaks down. Wood chips raise soil pH and tend to stay in place during rainy and windy seasons.
Pine Straw and Pine needles: Not the best for all plants, but a great addition to be placed around blueberry bushes and other acid-loving plants as Camellia, azalea, and rhododendrons. Pine-based mulches stay in place well during rainstorms.
Cocoa Mulch: Made from chopped hulls of roasted cocoa beans, this mulch has an attractive dark color, and smells great for the first few weeks after application. This mulch adds nitrogen, potash, and phosphates to your soil. However, it has the potential to be toxic to dogs from the ingredients caffeine and theobromine.
Other mulches on the market include recycled rubber mulch, primarily used on playgrounds and commercial properties.
Some use grass clippings, pebbles, compost, straw, or sawdust as mulches. Use mulch with or without landscape fabric underneath.
How to Put Down Mulch
Apply mulch in spring and fall, after your plantings are in place. Your professional landscaper will recommend the mulch that is best for your situation. If you DIY on this project, remember to check your mulch for pests before applying through your gardens and flower beds. Wood mulch works best when it is somewhat aged.
Apply a few inches thick on your finished beds and gardens. Two inches is appropriate in some situations, while a four-inch layer works better on some plantings.
Another DIY reminder, keep your mulches a few inches away from the trunks of trees and shrubs. Often used these days, the technique of volcano mulching is dangerous for your trees and can cause suffocation and rot. Also, don’t apply mulch up against the foundation of the home.