Although available in many types and colors, all mulch has the same purpose, to cover the soil surface to maintain moisture, improve soil conditions, reduce weed growth, and enhance visual appeal of the area. Mulching is an important part of maintaining your landscaping, either at home or as part of commercial landscape maintenance.
Benefits of Mulching
When applied properly, mulching is one of the most beneficial ways to help your trees and bedding plants. Some of the benefits are:
- Maintaining Soil Moisture: Mulch limits evaporation which helps keep plants hydrated, thus reducing the need to water.
- Insulating Roots: Mulch helps keep the soil at optimal temperature, cooling it down in the summer and warming it up in the winter.
- Reducing Weed Growth: A mulch layer will prevent weed growth.
- Improving Soil Conditions: When organic mulch breaks down, it adds nutrients back into the soil, improving soil fertility and structure.
- Improving Landscape Appeal: Mulch helps to provide a uniform look to the yard and can hide problem areas, enhancing overall landscape appeal.
When to Mulch
Plants can benefit from mulch any time of the year. However, adding mulch during different seasons can provide varied benefits for your garden. Mulching in the spring after planting is recommended to gain the most benefit. Autumn and winter mulching can help stabilize the plants through the colder months. If an area needs a quick appearance boost, adding mulch at any time of the year is recommended.
How to Apply
Special care should be given when applying mulch. If the layer is too deep or the wrong material is used, the result could be damaged trees or plants. To apply properly, be sure to edge the area to help contain the mulch. Use a rake or gloved hand to evenly spread a 2”- 4” layer of mulch. Leave at least 1” at the base of the tree or plant to allow for proper air and water flow to the roots.
Commercial Landscape Maintenance Tip: Consider laying a landscape fabric down before mulching to help prevent weed growth.
Commerical Landscape Maintenance of Mulch
Rake the bed a few times per season to revitalize faded mulch and to break up any clumps that could prevent water from reaching the soil. Also, remove weeds by hand if they begin to pop up to avoid weed overgrowth.
For some winter commercial landscape maintenance tips, be sure to check out last month’s blog.
Types of Mulch
Mulch falls into two categories, organic and inorganic. Organic breaks down over time adding nutrients to the soil; inorganic does not break down, allowing soil composition to remain the same.
Organic Mulches: Wood Chips, Straw, Pine Needles, Grass Clippings, Shredded Leaves, Garden Compost
Inorganic Mulches: Rock, Plastic, Rubber
Where to Mulch
Flower beds and vegetable gardens are considered mulch hot spots for home landscapers, but here are a few fresh ideas used in commecial landscape maintenance to get you started.
- Mulch around your mailbox. This is a high-profile area that will benefit from a fresh layer of mulch.
- Line your walkway with mulch. Whether you have a concrete or stone path, adding mulch will highlight the walkway and add more visual interest the area.
- Add mulch to your swing set area. This can help to avoid unsightly overuse areas in the grass and can also provide protection for potential falls.