Mulch is a beneficial component in any landscape design but many homeowners don’t know how much mulch to use, what type or simply why it works.
Generally, mulched planting beds and trees are healthier, more weed-free, and are more drought-resistant then unmulched yards — it means you will spend less time in yard watering, weeding, and fighting pest problems.
Regardless of the many benefits mulch has, most people use it to put the finishing touch on their front yard landscaping to boost its curb appeal.
The Benefits of Mulch and Why it Works
Using mulch will provide the plants, shrubs and trees in your landscape with important benefits. In either an organic or inorganic form you gain the following benefits from mulch:
- weed control
- decreases cost of buying and applying herbicides
- moisture preservation
- increased ability for water to penetrate
- reduction in water runoff
- moderation of soil temperatures
- controls erosion
- prevents soil compaction
- organic matter feeds beneficial soil organisms
You’ll also find it acts as a barrier between trees and lawn mowers or trimmers, preventing injury to any living elements. Mulch serves a dual purpose. When using it for its benefits you also get an attractive bonus…a beautiful, clean linear contrast between your plants and your turf or grass. It’s these clean lines that add an artistic sculpted feel to your landscape. How much mulch to use, however, makes a difference.
The Best Practices of Mulching
Your plant materials, trees and your overall landscape design will determine what type of mulch to use but the depth will pretty much apply for all.
Industry standard is a minimum 3’-0” circle around individual trees. That would be 3 feet from the base of the trunk to the outer edge of the mulch circle. Measuring across the circle means your mulch would be 6’-0” across.
When planting new trees, your mulch should extend 12” beyond a newly planted root ball and should continue out to the drip line, if possible for the trees that are already established. You will want the mulch to get wet when your drip lines are on.
The overall goal is to optimize the area of soil under the mulch so your tree and plant roots are encouraged to explore.
Do not mulch right up to the tree trunks. Keep it 3 to 6 inches back from younger trunks and about 8 to 12 inches from mature trees.
More Mulch Basics…
Be sure to weed any areas first before you spread any mulch and wetting the soil before you put it down makes it easier to place.
If your property does not drain well or you have areas of standing water, do not use fine textured mulches. The coarser variety will promote better drainage.
When determining how much mulch to use, the mulch overall should not be more than 2 to 4 inches deep above the soil and should be replaced every 2 to 3 years to keep your sharp landscape appearance.
Do not add new mulch on top of older mulch to ensure the overall depth remains between 2 to 4 inches.
Did you know that 2” of mulch will cut water loss by up to 20% and that 4” of mulch will reduce the temperature of the top 4” of soil by 10 degrees?
Depending on how course your mulch is, it may become compacted over time and begin to shed water. If this happens, rake away the old and install something new.
How do I Budget for Mulch in my Yard?
When determining the quantity of mulch to purchase use the following as a guide:
- One cubic yard will cover 108 SF (square feet), 3 inches deep
- Six cubic yards will cover 1,000 SF, 2 inches deep
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Filed under: F.A.Q.