You may not have thought much about the process of mulching, but there is a lot more to proper landscape mulch than just dumping and spreading material. In fact, mulching is an ongoing process, rather than a one-time event. Like most aspects of landscaping and gardening, mulch and mulch maintenance is a year-round endeavor.
With that in mind, there are a few things you can do to maximize the use of mulch. Below are seven best mulching practices that will ultimately help provide a flourishing landscape and save you money in the process.
1. Use the Right Tools for the Job
As with any job, you will want to use the right tools when maintaining your landscape mulch. For example, you will generally find a pitchfork easier to use than a shovel when handling bark mulch. In addition, consider obtaining a wheelbarrow for hauling mulch and other supplies around your yard. As an alternative, a large wagon or cart can also be useful for transporting materials.
2. Install a Retention Barrier
You don’t want to spend your hard-earned money needlessly replacing mulch washed away by the rain or blown by the wind. A barrier will keep your mulch in its proper place, which benefits both your pocketbook and your landscape.
There is an almost endless number of choices when it comes to landscape mulch retention barriers. One option includes plastic and metal edging, which simply pushes or stakes into position along the border of your landscape features.
In addition, you can use bricks or specially designed stones that stack together to form a short wall. The selection is up to you, so choose something that fits your landscape’s appearance and your budget.
3. Purchase Mulch in Bulk When Possible
Another tip for making mulch maintenance cost-effective and simpler is to purchase it in bulk. Mulch can be bought in bags, but it ultimately costs a lot more to go this route as opposed to buying in bulk.
In addition to the dollar-and-cents benefit gained by volume purchasing, you will also make distribution simpler in most cases. Heavy, thick, bags of mulch can be awkward to handle and can also create messes by retaining water, which often leads to diseased product in bagged mulch. You can avoid these concerns and save money by purchasing mulch in bulk. At Wilson Blacktop, you can purchase as little or as much mulch as you need.
4. Periodically Turn Over Mulch
Mulch can last indefinitely in landscapes and gardens, but it needs to be periodically renewed by being turned over. The top layers of mulch dry out in the hot summer, and colors will also become bleached and faded by the sun.
That’s why your landscape will benefit by digging into the mulch a couple of inches and turning the layers upside-down. In addition, this action will help aerate the mulch and kill plant-destroying microorganisms and insects.
5. Add New Mulch in Early Spring and Fall
Even though maintenance preserves existing mulch and prevents needless waste, you will inevitably need to add some new material. While mulch can be added any time of the year, your landscape will probably gain the most by placing new mulch in the early spring.
This will provide your vulnerable plants with extra warmth and protection as they begin producing new growth. In addition, a thick, full layer of mulch does double duty by discouraging weeds from growing and spreading.
Another ideal time to add needed mulch is in the fall. Mulch is a “winter blanket” that will help guard your landscape against the brutal cold and freezing conditions and will protect your investment from loss.
6. Properly Shape Mulch Around Trees
Mulch is protective, but if it’s misused, it can actually cause harm to your trees. For example, mulch that is piled too close to the base of the trunk of a tree diverts water away from the tree, and it can also create a habitat for wood-eating insects. That’s why you should always be diligent to properly shape mulch around the base of trees.
Mulch should be shaped to form a bowl around the base of a tree, as this will funnel water toward the tree, and it will also minimize the potential for bug infestation. You will need to periodically reshape the mulch bowl to help it keep its form.
7. Mulch at an Appropriate Depth
Some people believe that mulch should be piled as deeply as possible, but a layer of mulch that is too deep can cause trouble for your landscape. For example, an overly thick layer of mulch can encourage plant roots to emerge from the soil or grow too close to the surface. This exposes them to damage and disease.
Conversely, mulch that is too shallow can also lead to problems, such as soil drying and a lack of weed suppression capability. That’s why mulch should be layered between two and four inches deep throughout your landscape.
If you are in need of mulch, be sure to contact Wilson Blacktop for help. We provide a variety of beautiful colors of landscape mulch and we will even deliver it to your property within a 50-mile radius.