Mulching 101

Erosion protector, moisture sustainer, plant enhancer: mulch is all those things and more. Though applying it may seem like a straightforward process, it helps to know a few details to make the most of its benefits.

Things you will need

·      Shovel

·      Newspaper or cardboard (optional)

·      Mulch

·      Rake


1.    Choose the correct mulch. When choosing a mulch there are a lot of options and things to consider. Do you want the mulch to control weeds? To cover a pathway? To reduce evaporation? Depending on why you are using the mulch, there will be different application techniques. Asses your yard on its needs and then talk to an expert before you purchase your mulch to make sure you are covering all of your desires.

2.    Prepare the area before laying down your new mulch. This means removing all perennial weeds like docks, dandelions, plantains and grasses before you mulch. Additionally, you’ll want to lay down anything you want under the mulch, such as landscaping fabric or plastic.

Pro tipAdd several layers of newspaper or cardboard (remove tape and labels first) if you'd like a biodegradable and earth friendly means of blocking weeds from popping up.

3.    Spread the mulch not too thick, not too thin. The depth of mulch is very crucial in retaining moisture and preventing weed growth. Spread mulch about two to three inches thick. Anything thicker could harbor pests, but at the very least is wasteful and unnecessary. If you are planning a garden, leave at least four to six inches for the plant to breathe. This will help your plants in preventing moisture-depletion and/or water-logging problems.

4.    Apply mulch whenever it is needed. Your plants will welcome mulch anytime of the year. If you apply mulch in late fall or early winter and you live in a cold climate (like Minnesota), wait until the ground freezes before mulching.   

5.    Renew mulches every few years. As mulch break down, it tends to lose color and/or get thin and misplaced. Renew your mulch by either digging old mulch into the soil and let it finish decomposing, or you can simply spread new mulch over the old.

Looking for help in areas of maintaining your yard (or just don’t want to get down and dirty with mulch work yourself?) We would be happy to come out and provide an estimate for ongoing plant health care throughout the year. Call us for additional information!