So You’ve Chosen Your Mulch, Now Let’s Talk About Putting it Down!




Mulching your garden beds seems like such an easy thing to do, just buy it and throw it down.  Well…it’s not really that simple if you want your garden beds to be healthy, happy, and beautiful. There are some very important dos, don’ts, and questions to ask when it comes to applying mulch.  We’ve outlined what we think are some of the more important details to pay attention to…

  • One of the most important questions you need to ask yourself is…how much?  There really isn’t formula here, and mine is “kinda” a guess.  I simply look at my beds and “guesstimate” how many standard 6cf wheel barrels loads would do the job.  I know from experience that there are roughly 7-8 wheel barrel loads in one cubic yard of mulch, and if you’re new to the mulching process this web site can be of fantastic help.
  • Be sure to wait until the weather warms up a bit before you apply your mulch.  One reason we use mulch is to lock in temperature, and if you apply it when it’s cold it’ll take your beds much longer to warm up.
  • Many will tell you to remove the old winter mulch, I say don’t bother especially if it’s organic.  One reason to use mulch is to add nutrients back into the soil so why remove it?  I like to scratch it, and mix it in with the existing topsoil.  Doing this over time will give you rich, organic, beds to plant in.  Just mix it in and apply your new mulch over it.
  • Make sure that your beds are free of weeds, and your perennials are nicely established.  Perennials that are not established might have a tough time breaking through or establishing themselves through a layer of mulch.  Weeds that are left and mulched over will break through a layer of mulch!
  • Mulch can damage shrubs with woody stems, and tree trunks.  Planting mulch to close to these plants can rot the bark.  I like to drag the mulch out around these plants, almost creating a bowl around them to catch the rains.
  • Be sure not apply the mulch to thick.  Thicker mulch can promote root growth in the mulch itself and not in the rich soil beneath.  If the plants root into the mulch, closer to the surface they can be susceptible to cold, heat, etc…  In general a layer of 2-3 inches is standard.
  • Consider using heavier/thicker mulch on beds that are more exposed to winds, and rains.  Lighter mulch might blow away in high winds, or “run” off with heavy rains.
  • And finally, please consider the size of the mulch you are applying.  Large cedar chips or the like just look ridiculous in a tiny flower bed, but they look great in a large bed full of trees and shrubs.

We hope these tips help your beds not only look good, but also help them stay healthy and promote growth. Please note these are general tips that we feel are some of the most important, so be sure to research other garden sites, blogs, etc…

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