Tips for Mulching Beds

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Mulch is the dressing on a landscape bed, but its benefits run deeper than surface appeal. Mulch protects plant and tree roots, prevents soil erosion, discourages weed growth, and helps the ground retain moisture. No matter what type of mulch you choose, application technique is critical. Follow these easy steps for mulching this Spring for a healthier landscape all year!

 

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Overview

Mulch is the dressing on a landscape bed, but its benefits run deeper than surface appeal. Mulch protects plant and tree roots, prevents soil erosion, discourages weed growth, and helps the ground retain moisture. You can purchase a variety of mulches for different purposes. Synthetic mulches and stones are long-lasting, colorful, and resist erosion. They’ll never break down. Organic mulches, such as compost and wood chips, enrich soil and double as “dressing” and healthy soil amendments.

No matter what type of mulch you choose, application technique is critical. If you spread it too thick it may become matted down and can trap too much moisture. Too thin, it can wash away to reveal bare spots. If it is unevenly applied it will appear spotty.

Consider timing before you apply mulch. The best time to mulch is mid- to late-spring, after the ground warms up. If you apply mulch too soon, the ground will take longer to warm up and your plants will suffer for it. You may add more mulch during the summer to retain water, and in the winter to insulate soil. (As weather warms, lift some of the mulch to allow new growth to sprout.) Spring is prime mulching time. Follow these easy mulching tips now for a healthier landscape all year!

What You'll Need

Tools:

Hose for watering
Weeder
Gardening Gloves

Materials:

Mulch Options
Organic: Compost, Lawn clippings (free of chemicals), Leaves, Wood chips or shavings, Bark, Manure
Synthetic and Stone: Recycled rubber mulch, stone or brick
Landscape fabric

 

Step 1

Choose your mulch

Mulch comes in many varieties. You can purchase a variety of mulches for different purposes. Most common mulch is made from shredded wood and bark. Because it is an organic material it breaks down and requires regular refreshing. Organic mulches, such as compost and wood chips, enrich soil and double as “dressing” and healthy soil amendments. Synthetic mulches and stones are long-lasting, colorful, and resist erosion. They’ll never break down.


Step 2

Preparing to mulch

Remove weeds from the bed and water plants thoroughly before applying mulch. For ornamental plating beds it often is a good idea to lay strips of landscape fabric over the soil before mulching.


Step 3

Create a perimeter

Option: Help contain the mulch in a confined area by installing flexible landscape edging with plastic material or even stones.


Step 4

Add mulch to landscape area

Working in sections, scoop a pile of material from the load (wheelbarrow or bag) and place the piles around the landscape bed.


Step 5

Spread mulch

Spread mulch material to a uniform 1" thickness to start. Do not allow mulch to touch tree trunks or stems of woody ornamentals. Compost can double as mulch and a soil amendment that provides soil with nutrients. If you don’t make your own compost, you can purchase all-natural products such as Sweet Peet.


 
 

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