Mulch - How Much do you know about Mulch?
I know most of your have already mulched your gardens and this post will probably fall on deaf ears. Unfortunately April and May are a landscapers busiest months of the year so I fell short with my blog posts.
Bark Mulch - Stone Mulch - Straw Mulch - Compost
We have a long list of clients every spring that need their gardens mulched. Every spring, every garden, more mulch. Why? No one really knows, it's just something that people do, so it's become a spring chore.
Mulch defined: a material (such as decaying leaves, bark, or compost) spread around or over a plant to enrich or insulate the soil.
A big contributor in commercial and residential landscape trends has been curb appeal. You want your property to look good from the street or as you pull in the driveway. I get it, I'm the same way. However it's good to know when curb appeal isn't doing anything for your landscape.
Mulching is easiest to do in the spring before perennials come up. We like to edge the beds before the grass is too strong but healthy enough to hold an edge. Traditionally the spring is a wet time of year although it hasn't been recently. So the idea behind mulching in the spring has a lot to do with holding in moisture and insulating the soil as the plants bounce back from the winter.
Mulching for Health VS. Mulching for "The Look"
Colored mulch has one purpose - to color the garden. Why? Wouldn't you rather color your garden with flowers and foliage? The fact about colored mulch that is often overlooked is that it ha been dyed - and from what - chemicals... An issue that is finally coming to the surface is whether or not dyed mulch is safe for pets or children. What is the dye made from and how much of it is used when the mulch is made? The addiction to dyed mulch comes from the beautiful contrast that mulch gives the landscape the day it's installed. I get it. But let's think for a minute about what the dyed mulch is actually doing for our landscape if we need to apply more every so often to get "the look."
Bark Mulch for Health
A good mulch decomposes to add nutrients to the soil as it works to retain moisture and hold heat. So when mulching, the goal is to protect until the plants can protect themselves. In the spring time when the gardens are bare try mulching with a natural bark mulch that will decompose as the season goes on. By midsummer when the plants are in full bloom and the foliage shades their roots the mulch will be acting as food.
Try feeding your plants with a fertilizer before you mulch. The mulch will help hold the food and the food will help break down the mulch. Win win!
Mulch for Weed Control
Get that out of your mind right now. Weeds will germinate and grow in a concrete sidewalk. If you want minimal growth roll out some landscape fabric and cover it with stone mulch.
With your gardens leafing out for the winter they begin to retain water in their roots again. Mulch in the fall to protect from killing frost. I like to use chopped up leaves from the fall clean up to mulch perennial beds. The leaves can be raked up in the spring before mulch or covered with mulch and allowed to decompose. Maple leaves are high in nitrogen and decompose well. Oak leaves are slow to break down and add little to the soil. Straw mulch also works well and is a favorite for to help keep roses alive though the winter.
Think About Mulch
- Mulch has a purpose, what is it?
- Mulch is not a paint - except at Wal Mart where the sea of asphalt needs some color
- Mulch will be walked on, eaten and sat in
- Mulch needs to break down
- Mulch should provide some kind of benefit
- When adding mulch every year, less is more
- Dyed mulch fades but healthy flowers bloom for the season
I'm not saying mulch less. I'm just saying you think about where your food comes from or what kind of oil you put in your car. Why not think about what your mulch is made of and why you put it around your yard.
Retail price per yard before Delivery. Delivery and Installation costs vary depending on the area
- Dyed Black, Red or Brown $30-$35
- Natural Brown Hemlock or Red Cedar $40-$50
- Composted Mulch, typically aged a year or two - most beneficial $45-$55
- Stone Mulch; river stone or beach rounds - great for pool areas, accents and erosion control $75-$150
- Straw Mulch; used for winter cover and seeded lawns $8-$12 per bail
- Salt Marsh Hay Mulch ; great for winter cover and vegetable gardens $10-$16 per bail
Before keeping up with the Jones's ask yourself if the Jones's are doing the right thing...