Why Should I Mulch My Landscape Beds?

What is mulch?

Mulch is a layer of material that is spread on top of the soil, around the base of your plants, shrubs, and trees.

Plants and trees growing in a natural forest environment have their roots anchored in rich, well-aerated soil full of essential nutrients.  The soil is blanketed by leaves and organic materials that replenish nutrients as they break down and provide an optimal environment for root growth and mineral uptake.

However, urban and suburban landscapes are typically a much harsher environment for trees and shrubs to grow in than natural forest environments.  They have poorer soils, little organic matter, and large fluctuations in temperature and moisture.  Mulch is used as a solution to these problems.

Why Mulch?

  • It increases the aesthetic appeal of the landscape
    • Gives your landscape beds a neat, more organized appeal
  • It benefits the health of the plants
    • Helps to retain soil moisture
    • Suppresses weeds
    • Helps to regulate soil temperature
    • Inhibits some plant diseases
    • Adds organic matter back into the soil as they breakdown
    • Over time, mulched beds will have improved aerations and drainage

The Do’s and Don’ts of Mulching:

When applying mulch to your garden beds there are three important tips to keep in mind.

  1. Apply a 2-3” layer in your garden. Too much mulch can lead to excess moisture in the soil, causing potential fungal issues and root rot.
  2. Keep mulch away from the trunk or stem of trees and shrubs. Piling it around the base of the plant makes it harder for the plant to breathe, stressing the plant and inviting potential insect and disease issues.
  3. Pay attention to the ingredients. Certain mulches, like synthetic or cocoa hull mulch, can be harmful to some pets.

For best results, mulch in late spring to early summer when soil temperatures have risen sufficiently, but soil moisture content is still relatively high.  If mulch is applied too early in spring, while soil temperatures are still cold, the mulch will insulate the soil and slow the soil temperature from warming up and bringing life back to the garden.  Mulch can also be applied in the fall as part of a typical fall clean-up.

Heritage Farm & Garden offers both bagged and bulk mulch (natural and black colors).