Mulching beds and borders doesn’t just make them look better, it makes trees, shrubs and plants happier, too. When you cover the open spaces around plants with a layer of ground bark, wood chips or other mulches, plants benefit in many ways.
Mulch saves water by reducing moisture loss. The shaded soil keeps the root zone from heating up as much. When laid thick enough, mulch prevents weeds from growing.
For the best results, lay mulch 3”-4” thick to save water and block weeds. If weeds aren’t a concern, 2”-3” is fine so long as it’s uniform.
FOLLOW THIS METHOD USED BY PROFESSIONAL LANDSCAPERS TO SPEED THE MULCHING PROCESS:
- Distribute unopened bags evenly throughout the garden bed. Reserve a few bags for finishing touches.
- Use a pointed shovel to stab each bag so the wide side opens. Then simply pick up the bag on either end and dump the contents out.
- Next, use an iron rake to spread the mulch.
- Then, wearing gloves, spread mulch under each plant, leaving a gap of 2” between the stem or trunk of the plant and the mulch.
- Do not mound mulch around tree trunks like a volcano. Mulch touching these parts can kill trees and shrubs.
- Use reserve bags to provide even coverage in corners, around sprinkler heads, along the lawn edge and beneath smaller plants to finish up.
CHOOSE THE RIGHT MULCH:
- To improve your soil and add nutrients to your garden, use compost.
- For natural-looking mulch, use shredded bark, bark nuggets or pine straw. Bonus: Pine straw is good for acid-loving plants like azaleas.
- For an informal-looking mulch, use wood chips. They last a long time but can take nitrogen from the soil as they break down. Save them for use around big shrubs.
- For a low-maintenance mulch, use lava rocks, gravel or pebbles. Be careful. Dark stones absorb heat, and light ones reflect sunlight so they can overheat plants in hot weather.