You have this beautiful landscaping around your property. But it’s missing something. You need mulch to enhance the look of your property and provide your plants with some valuable benefits.
40 million cubic yards of mulch get spread over landscaping each year. What can it do for you? We are going to help you out with our 15 years of experience.
Keep reading to have all your questions answered. What is mulch and how do you go about buying it?
What Is Mulch?
Mulch is the material that you spread on the ground around your landscaping. It enhances the look and also does good things to help your landscaping grow.
The biggest thing it does is help the soil retain moisture. But it also suppresses weeds, insulates, and prevents erosion.
Why You Need It
Spreading mulch around your landscaping will help make everything look beautiful which increases the property’s value. It also helps keep the ground moist.
Moist soil means your plants are going to grow bigger and lusher. While it is in place it will help insulate the ground keeping it cool in the summer and warmer in the winter. Then once it breaks down it adds nutrients to the soil.
Garden Mulch Types
Picking the right kind of mulch depends on where you plan to put the mulch and the plants you have as a part of your landscaping. You’ll find that some mulches last longer than others, while some deposit more nutrients into the soil.
Hardwood mulch is great for landscaping that is on a slope. It’s also easy to spread around and has a long break down period.
The downside is that it will increase the alkalinity of the soil. Depending on what you are trying to grow, a soil that has high alkalinity may make it impossible for the plants to grow.
Mulch made of pine is actually pine needles. It’s affordable and easy to spread around. You may even find them for free in abundance under some pine trees.
This mulch will have a reddish brown color and give your landscaping a natural look. It’s great for rhododendrons or azaleas. You should be aware that this mulch will increase the acidity of the soil.
If you like pine, but don’t want the needles you have options. You could use shredded bark or pine nuggets.
The bark is great because it’s easy to spread. However, it does break down pretty quickly.
The nuggets are great because they are slower to decompose. Their downfall is that they are not good at water retention or staying in place. One good rainstorm and you’ll see your mulch start floating away.
If you want a mulch that lasts a long time you need to consider cedar. It is highly resistant to decay. Plus it smells amazing!
It’s a lighter colored wood so it will reflect the sunlight instead of absorbing it. This means it will help keep the ground and your plant’s cooler during the summer months.
It is more expensive than the hardwood mulches or pine. You also won’t get as many nutrients deposited into the soil since it isn’t decaying like other mulches.
If you want a mulch that is going to last a long time then you need to consider cypress. To make it even better it reflects sunlight and repels insects. Once in place, it will compress and matt down preventing soil erosion.
The downside is that it is one of the more expensive hardwood mulches you can buy. It also won’t give your soil a ton of nutrients.
If you want to go bold in your color choice then consider buying a mulch that has been dyed. You’ll find that you have a wide option of color choices.
Most natural colored mulches will start to fade in the sun. After about a year the wood will be more of a grey color. The colored dye will last about two to three years.
The price point makes it affordable too. This makes it a popular choice for most people.
You just need to be careful as the color may bleed onto the surrounding concrete. It could also leach into the soil and harm especially delicate plant life.
If you want the longest lasting mulch possible you need rubber mulch. It comes in different colors like the dyed mulch but the color stays.
It doesn’t float away. It also won’t float away on you during heavy rains.
The downside is that you can expect to pay a lot more as compared to other types. It also won’t give you any nutrient benefits to your soil.
Rocks are an option if you are looking to never have to replace your mulch again. You will invest more up front. In the long run, though, they are an affordable option since you only buy them once.
The downside is that they are heavy and it will be hard work to move and spread around. You will also find that you need to rinse them off so they look clean and nice.
You will also need to provide extra care to your landscaping. It will need extra feeding and watering than plants that have wood mulch.
If you decide to use stone, you have a variety of colors and stone types to choose from. Pick one that compliments where you live geographically and your landscaping.
How Much Do You Need?
Calculating how much mulch you need is key for not wasting time or money. Buy too much and you’ll have to find something to do with it. Don’t count on you being able to return the excess.
On the other hand, you don’t want to be almost done with the job and find out you are short. Now you have to stop what you are doing to go buy more mulch. If you had it delivered you may end up paying for a second delivery fee.
Calculate Your Cubic Yards
To figure out how much mulch you should buy you need to figure out the cubic yards. Start by measuring the length and width of the area you need to cover.
Once you multiply these numbers together you will have the square footage. Once you add up all of the square footage you need to cover you need to factor in the depth.
Most landscaping does well with a mulch depth of 2 to 3 inches. Multiply the total square footage by 3. Now, 1 cubic yard of mulch will cover 324 square feet of landscaping.
So divide your cubic area of mulch by 324. This final number is how many cubic yards of mulch you need to buy.
How to Install
You have three options when it comes to how you install mulch in your landscaping. Depending on the size of the area you are mulching you can choose from bags, dumping, or blowing.
For small jobs, the most cost-effective option is to buy bags from your local hardware store. It is easy for you to calculate how many bags you’ll need.
Then all you need to do is open each bag and spread the mulch around. Then when you’re done throw the bags away.
If you have a medium to large job then having the mulch dumped is a more economical option. Mulch will either get dumped in a huge pile or brought in on a trailer.
Then it will get moved to where it is needed by wheelbarrow. Most professional landscaping companies utilize this option.
If you have a large job, you need to choose to have it blown in. It is the most expensive, but it is also the fastest and cleanest method.
A large truck will come in and then a tube connected to the truck will pump the mulch to where it needs to be. There is no need to smooth it out with a rake.
Which Should You Choose?
An aged mulch will do wonders for improving the quality of the soil. This will encourage your plants to grow.
Look for mulch a wood mulch that has already started to decompose. This cuts down on the waiting time for it to start depositing the nutrients in the soil.
If the area around your landscaping is prone to washing out consider adding rocks. This usually happens around downspouts or on hills.
Fresh wood mulch like chips or bark is good if you are trying to control weed growth. It is also good if your main goal is looks and not soil improvement.
Where Not to Use a Mulch Type
You won’t want to use rocks in shallow plant beds. Between the extra weight and increased heat, you will damage the root structures.
Organic mulches are not good in low lying areas where water collects. You’ll end up retaining too much moisture causing root rot or infestation of pests.
DIY vs Hiring Someone
Of course, spreading mulch yourself is a cheaper option. Just know this is going to be a lot of work that involves heavy lifting, walking, and bending over.
Hiring a service will cost more, but it worth it for the speed and ease. You can sit back and enjoy a lemonade while a professional service delivers, spreads, and cleans up for you.
A professional service will also have insurance. This is valuable in case anything goes wrong during the project.
What About Termites?
Some people claim that mulch contains termites, or that it attracts them. While not impossible, it is highly unlikely that you will find a bag of mulch infested with termites.
Mulch goes through a chipping process to create the wood chips that are the mulch. If they did manage to survive this process, they wouldn’t last much longer. Once termites get separated from their colony they cannot survive.
Mulch does create an environment that termites like, wet and hidden. The good news is that while some mulch termites like, others will resist them.
Pine and cypress are likely to attract termites. While cedar will resist them.
These Are Not Mulch
Mulch is a distinct product that differs from sawdust, wood shavings, and fresh wood chips. These fresh wood options will suck up the nitrogen while they break down. This robs the plants of the nutrients they need to flourish.
Prep Your Property for Mulching
Before you lay mulch or hire someone else to you need to prep the area around your plants. Remove any weeds from the area.
If you don’t do this the weeds will just keep growing. Once you have a weed problem and mulch you’ll have a lot of work to clean it all up.
Plus one of the main reasons you are putting mulch down is to prevent weeds growth. So shouldn’t you remove the ones currently growing before you put the mulch down?
Mulch Your Landscaping
Hopefully, we have answered all of your burning questions about mulch. What is mulch? Why do I need it? What are the different types? How much do I buy?
Before you begin a mulching project, you need to decide what type of mulch will work best. Then you need to measure and figure out the cubic area you need to cover.
This will tell you how much mulch you need to buy. Once you know this you can decide the best method for buying your mulch.
If you have a small project then you can buy bags. If you have a larger project then you should consider buying your mulch in bulk by the truckload or having it blown in.
Contact us today to help you get started mulching your landscaping.