Maintaining Mulched Areas


         
 

Border edging keeps mulch from spilling onto the path in this landscape. Photo credit: pistildesigns Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0

 
 

A deeply dug edge creates a well defined garden bed and keeps mulch in place. Gregory Garnich Flickr CC BY 2.0

 

Using mulch is a great way to add visual interest to the landscape. It can be used to create a neat appearance and help define the edges of planting beds. It also has a variety of excellent benefits.  

Once …

How to Apply Mulch


 
 

Bark mulch is sold in bags or in bulk at landfills and landscape materials companies.
Photo source: geosteph Flickr CC NC-BY-SA 2.0

 

 

 

General Rules of Thumb for Applying Mulch 

  • Do not exceed about  3 inches in depth depending on type (coarse organic mulch can be applied more thickly than fine mulch)
  • Avoid compacting fine organic mulches
  • Avoid applying organic mulch too early in the spring or in the fall
  • Inorganic mulches should be used with appropriate designs such as xeriscape,

Where to Use Mulch

 

Inorganic gravel mulch used in a xeriscape cactus garden.
Photo credit: Clare Wilkinson Flickr CC BY 2.0

Bark mulch used on a path through a garden area where edging is not needed. Photo credit: trippedamine Flickr CC BY 2.0

Using mulch in the landscape is one of the seven steps or principles of xeriscape design. Mulch helps conserve water by reducing evaporation from exposed soil surfaces. Be sure to use the correct mulch type and depth for the …

Problems with Organic Mulches


         
 

Mulch is mounded too thickly around the base of these trees.
Photo credit: Extension Gardens, Lawns, and Landscapes CC BY-NEC-SA 2.0

By following some simple rules, mulch can be an effective way to conserve water, add organic matter to the soil, and keep annual weeds from germinating.

Organic mulches consist of plant material that eventually breaks down in the soil.

Common mistakes include applying a mulch layer that is too thick and mounding a mulch “volcano” around shrub and tree …

Problems with Inorganic Mulches

Although inorganic mulches can be used to create attractive and low maintenance planting beds, they also can create a few problems.

Problems With Inorganic Mulch:

  • Large areas of inorganic mulch may increase soil temperature
  • Avoid black plastic – it does not allow water, nutrients or air to penetrate the soil
  • Inorganic mulches do not provide nutrients to plants
  • Rubber mulch may be harmful to plants

A Note on Weed Barrier or Landscape Fabrics:

Weed barrier fabric does not work well …