Mulching 101

When many of us think about a fresh layer of mulch as part of our spring lawn care regimen, we’re thinking about the ways that it will improve the appearance of our yards. Of course, that’s not the only reason we take on that task at this time of year — new mulch also provides important health benefits for plants. But adding too much can be a problem, so here are a few tips for getting the most from your mulch.

Supporting Soil: Mulch helps to moderate the temperature of earth, keeping it at a plant-friendly level. It also inhibits the growth of weeds and facilitates the retention of moisture in gardens and beds. And of course it infuses soil with nutrients as it breaks down.

Choosing the Right Material: Any organic matter can serve as mulch, but some types are better suited for specific purposes and conditions. Wood chips, bark, and pine and wheat straw are popular in our area. Another common choice is compost, which is full of bugs and nutrients that will bolster your soil’s quality. 

How Much Mulch?: One cubic yard of mulch will cover 300 square feet to a depth of one inch. Measure the area you want to mulch so you know how much to buy. One yard of mulch is enough to cover 300 square feet an inch deep. As you know, it’s easy to find bags of various kinds of mulch at your local garden supply store or big box retailer. For larger areas, you may find it more convenient to arrange for a bulk delivery.

Out with the Old: The benefits of mulch obviously decrease as it ages, so it’s helpful to remove old mulch periodically. The good news is that it’s usually only necessary to do this once every few years. The best approach is adding a fresh top layer of mulch that’s about an inch deep every year, keeping the total depth below three inches.

Moderation in All Things: The most common mistake with mulching is applying too much mulch or allowing it to build up over time. A thick layer of mulch will smother plants, encourage tree trunks to rot, and prevent root systems from fully developing, rendering plants vulnerable to harm. Unfortunately, it’s tempting and easy to pile mulch on or allow it to build up over the optimal three-inch depth. Three inches is also the appropriate distance to allow between the mulch layer and any plant stem or tree trunk.

Refreshing and periodically replacing your mulch will enhance your soil and support your ornamentals’ ability to fend off diseases and harmful insects. For even more protection, Weed Slayer Lawncare offers ornamental tree and shrub care options in addition to our lawn treatment services. Call us at 706-622-1104 to learn more.