If you've been wanting to know how to mulch your gardens the correct way, the way the pros do it, that make your gardens look neat and tidy, plus have healthy beautiful plants, we have the answers in this article. To some, it may seem simple, and yes, it is. However, there are a few things you should know before you tackle this important task.
Here's a fact. Mulching your gardens is something that you should do 100% of the time. Do you always do it? Do you sometimes skip this step for lack of time?
The simple fact is mulch has its benefits that can't be ignored. It insulates the ground, keeping the temperature of soil at a more constant rate. Without it, the sun could bake the top of the soil, increasing it's temperature and drying out the soil and plants within it.
This means that your gardens might need more frequent watering if they were left without mulch.
In addition, mulch keeps down weeds. Since it blocks sunlight from the soil itself, and weeds need sun to grow, it acts as a weed block.
Please note. Mulch will not stop weeds from growning entirely. However, it will cut back on them substantially, making your gardens easier to maintain.
Finally, mulch gives your gardens that "finished" look - the look that makes it look professionally maintained.
What Type Of Mulch Should You Use
As you visit your local garden center to purchase mulch, you'll notice a wide variety of types of mulch - from hardwood to dyed, to rubber mulch and everything in between. Do you want to know which one to choose? Well, this is your lucky day.
We have an article that goes into detail about the types of mulch and which one's you should use. Read that article here.
For now though, just know that natural wood products are the best as they break down and decompose into the soil, providing nutrients that are good for the plants.
This type of mulch should be your first choice.
Should You Use Bagged Or Bulk Mulch
Although we go into this topic in more detail in the above referenced article, it's worth it to note that the choice between bulk or bagged mulch is really a personal choice - depending on how you want to transport it to your home and how you want to apply it.
The quality of bagged versus bulk mulch is like every other product in life. There are better qualities and worse qualities, all available at different prices. It's up to you to determine the product make-up and which ones you want to use for the look you want to achieve.
Applying mulch to your gardens however, is another thing entirely.
Putting mulch on your gardens is easier when it's in bulk, as you just have to load it in a wheel barrow and, using a mulch fork, sprinkle it over your gardens. However, getting bulk mulch to your home could be the deciding factor. After all, you can't just load it into the back of your Nissan Sentra.
So, the choice of bulk or bagged really comes down to personal choice and nothing more.
How To Mulch Your Gardens For That Finished Look
Which ever method you use to get the mulch to your gardens, next you must apply it to the gardens
How To Mulch Your Gardens With Bulk Mulch:
If you're using bulk mulch, you will need to have a way to get it from the store to your home. There are just 2 choices here. You can have it loaded into your vehicle, whether it's a truck or trailer, or have it delivered by the store, which will usually involve an extra delivery charge, increasing the over all price.
Once you get it to your home, the challenge then becomes getting it to your gardens.
Do you have a wheel barrow? This is the best way to do it but perhaps you have something else you can use to transport it to your gardens - say, large buckets?
Whatever the case, you will need to load the bulk mulch into something that will get it to where it needs to be. This will involve shoveling it into your container and moving it from your driveway to your gardens.
The downside to all of this is that, depending on the amount of mulch you've purchased, you'll have to move it and apply it immediately. If not, the remainder will be left wherever it was dropped.
If you've had the mulch delivered, it will usually be dumped into your driveway or sometimes even the street - and guess what? That's where it will remain until you move it and apply it to your gardens. If it takes you a month to mulch your gardens, then your mulch will sit there until then. But wait, that's not all...
Once the mulch is moved, what's left over is a dirty mess that will need to be cleaned up. If it's your driveway, hosing down is an absolute necessity.
The question is... do you really want bulk mulch sitting around your property until you find the time to mulch your gardens? Only you can make that decision. Most people however, would not like this.
Once you've gotten the mulch to the garden location where you need it, either dump the wheel barrow or, even better, using a mulch (pitch) fork scoop the mulch onto the fork and apply it to the garden area.
Since scooping it with a mulch fork is not that precise, you'll most likely need to use a steel rake to move it around into a thick even layer and may even have to use your hands to get it around the plants.
Whatever it takes, spread it in an even layer, covering all the surfaces.
Image Of Steel Rake
Image of Mulch (Pitch) Fork
How To Mulch Your Gardens With Bagged Mulch:
Bagged mulch is much easier to deal with, both in the transportation and the storage.
Simply load bags of mulch into your vehicle (even your car) and store them on your property out of the way until you need them. In fact, you could buy just enough mulch for you to apply that day then, when you're ready to mulch your gardens again, you can go out and buy more.
Much simpler, for sure.
To mulch your gardens simply move the bags to the location you want it, then dump the bag into the garden and spread it out evenly. You can do this by getting down on your knees and doing it by hand, or using a steel rake, rake the mulch into an even layer.
Be sure to spread the mulch around the plants and their roots. It's important to get it around each plant completely. This will assure that the plant's roots get covered and will be insulated from the changes in weather.
Although we painted a picture of many downsides to bulch mulch, the bagged also has a few - namely, you'll have to carry heavy bags of mulch around, plus you can't always see what you're getting until the bag has been opened.
Have you ever wondered why you see bags of mulch at the store that have been ripped open? Now you know.
We think the advantages to bagged outweight bulk mulch. This is why we use bagged 90% of the time. If a job requires 100 bags or more, we will use bulk. Otherwise, it's bagged for us.
Thickness Of The Mulch Layer
One common mistake we see is bare spots, which means that not enough mulch was used to cover the gardens.
If you have any bare spots, cover them completely. If you don't have enough mulch to do the job, you'll need to purchase more, but don't let parts of the garden remain uncovered. This will not only be detrimental to the plants, but the finished look will not look complete "finished."
Mulch should always be 2-3 inches deep, preferably the latter. Using less means that weeds may start to grow or the ground isn't insulated enough. Using more that 4 inches is also not good because the plant roots may be buried in mulch too deeply, which can hurt the plant's growth.
How To Mulch Tree Rings
Another mistake we see is the incorrect mulching of tree rings - a circular ring of mulch around the tree. Sometimes, mulch is applied too thick, in a mound around the tree. This is a big mistake.
Most plants, and especially trees, contain roots that are close to the surface of the ground. The same way that you should not cover these roots with soil when planting, you should not cover them with large amounts of mulch either.
What we see is tree rings that are mounded up with mulch up to the trunk - often times resulting in the trunk buried in mulch 6 inches deep or more. This practice will definitely hurt the tree's growth.
Tree rings should not be graded in a large mound. When mulching trees, you can apply the mulch in the usual 2-3 inch layer, but don't mound it up around the trunk much more than that.
Have you ever noticed tree rings that look like donuts, a mounded up circle on the outside edge with a depression hole inside, against the trunk? Now you know the reason why. It's to keep a large mound of mulch away from the trunk of the tree.
Correct Mulching Of Tree
Correct Mulching - Adding That Beautiful Finishing Touch
Now that we've explained how to mulch your gardens, and even tree rings, and the correct way to do it, there's no reason NOT to do it. You just have to commit to the time and do it.
Your plants will thank you. Your gardens will thank you and visitors to your home will admire your gardens even more.
December 24, 2020
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