Mulching is one of the best and easiest things you can do to protect and spruce up the overall look of your landscaping. Mulch is any material spread over or laid upon cultivated soil. This can include grass trimmings, bark or wood chips, pine needles, straw, shredded leaves, etc. Most commonly mulch is an organic, decomposing material and will need to be replaced periodically, though inorganic materials such as pebbles, river rock, and landscape fabrics placed over landscaping (usually for aesthetics and weed prevention) also fall under the description.
Now that you understand what mulching is, what is its purpose and how does it benefit your landscaping? As mentioned above, mulching your landscaping provides a layer of protection over your cultivated soil. Some of the benefits of this include:
- Retention of moisture in the soil
- Suppression of weed growth
- Protection against some pests
- Fertilization of soil through decomposition of organic mulches
- Protection of plant roots
- Providing a finished, manicured look to your landscaping
Wondering which mulch you should use? There are many options and no one mulch will do it all. The most common type of mulch used is shredded bark, a fresh organic mulch. This mulch breaks down slowly and adds a finished look to your landscaping. If you are specifically looking to increase soil quality and overall plant growth, perhaps consider an aged wood mulch. This is frequently sold in bulk and will decompose feeding nutrients to your soil and plants. Rocks are great to assist in weed growth prevention and disperse water more evenly in areas prone to water erosion.
Another factor to take into consideration when choosing what type of mulch to use is what kind of plants are growing in the area to be mulched and what the environment is in that specific spot. An organic mulch placed in a damp, low spot may retain too much moisture for your plants and could invite an overpopulation of slugs and other plant-eating pests. Inorganic rock mulch, on the other hand, may heat up too much in the sun and destroy shallow-rooted plants. A landscaping professional will know which mulch is best for your project.
Mulch application is best during mid-to-late spring and fall. During these times, the soil is moist and perfect for mulching. In winter, the soil is too cold and during the summer it can be too dry. Apply new mulch after a fresh weeding of the soil and clearing out the old mulch that needs replacing. It can take a 4- to 6-inch layer to completely shut out weed growth, however a 2- to 3-inch layer is typically sufficient and will be advantageous to your landscaping. Putting down too much mulch, as beneficial as mulch may be, can be harmful to your plants and trees. Too much direct contact with plant stems can cause a softening of the stems as the soil decomposes, inviting the possibility of disease to your plants. A buildup of mulch around the base of a tree or shrub can cause a hard layer to form, making it difficult for enough water to penetrate it to the soil. Be mindful of mulch placement and your landscaping will thrive.
As a final overview, here are a few simple tips on mulching:
- Use mulch to create a finished look to your landscaping
- Consider your entire landscape when choosing which type of mulch to use
- Be mindful of the thickness of your mulch application
- Clear out old mulch that needs replacing and weed your soil before laying down a new layer of fresh mulch
- Do not forget your trees when mulching and remember bare soil can lead to excessive water erosion
Mulching is easy and the benefits to your landscaping will be immense. Definitely take the time to decide what is best for your project and your plants will thank you! Have you kept up with your mulching properly?
NVS Landscapes offers Mulching Services. Contact us using the form below if you’re interested in a quote, or give us a call!