HOW TO MULCH LANDSCAPE BEDS
Mulching your shrub beds will help
reduce weed growth, hold moisture in the soil and help rainfall and
irrigation system water penetrate the ground more readily. In the
21st Century dyed mulches have gained popularity over the natural
wood-based mulches since they hold their color longer.
There are several types of mulch you can use:
One cubic yard of shredded mulch is equal to
27 cubic feet. Therefore, to calculate how many "yards" of mulch you need
to cover a given area, find out the cubic footage by multiplying length x
width x depth (in feet).
Doing the math:
An area 10 feet x 45 feet x 1-1/2 inch mulch depth (.125 feet) =
10 x 45 x .125 = 56.25 cubic feet
56.25 cubic feet ÷ 27 cubic feet (one yard) =
2.08 cubic yards of mulch needed for the area
cubic yard of mulch =
27 cubic feet
Shredded wood mulches
Generally speaking, finer ground
mulches (or smaller sized decorative stone) will provide more coverage,
since it can be spread thinner. With shredded wood mulches, a depth
of one to 1-1/2 inches should be adequate, especially if you plan to
mulch every year. Wood mulches stay looking their best if they are
top-coated every year (two years at the most). Beyond two years,
most of the mulch will have disintegrated and you'll be down to soil
or unsightly landscape fabric.
Applying mulch several inches deep year after year will lead to
mulch build-up. In some cases, you may have to remove some of the
old mulch layer before applying fresh mulch. Mulch should be held
back from contacting the trunks of trees and shrubs.
Landscape fabric and black plastic
Landscape fabric works well under
decorative stone mulches, but we don't recommend using it under
wood, bark or mushroom manure mulches. While it may serve well at
holding down weeds for the first couple years, weeds will eventually
begin to grow on top of the fabric. Also, a landscape fabric or
black plastic underlayment will prevent mulch from breaking down and
adding organic matter to the soil. Since any underlayment inhibits
the natural breakdown of mulch, it also contributes to mulch
build-up, where you may eventually end up with too deep of a mulch
HOW TO SPREAD MULCH
Getting your beds ready to mulch...
Once beds have been
cleaned-up, it is time to edge the beds. The simplest way to
create an edge is illustrated here: Cut an edge with a power
edger or sharp spade, then spray the grass and weeds inside the
cut with glyphosate (follow label instructions). If you desire a "deep edge look" you'll
need to remove soil along the edge with a spade or power
trencher. [Edging video]
Dig out the edges
along sidewalks and driveways so you have enough depth to apply
your fresh coat of mulch. You'll also want to remove excess
mulch from the area around your air conditioning unit (if it
rests on the ground) to allow for the application of a new layer
Now it is time to apply any fertilizer or pre-emergent herbicide
you intend to use. Nitrogen fertilizer will help compensate for
what is removed from the soil when wood based mulches breakdown.
Pre-emergent herbicides help prevent the growth of weed seeds in
the soil. Some products combine fertilizer with pre-emergent
herbicide. Follow label instructions.
Now it's time to spread
Having the right equipment will make your job easier. We
recommend a 6 cubic foot wheelbarrow with a pneumatic tire.
Small spaces, and areas with difficult access, can be
mulched using large plastic tubs, old tree pots or 5-gallon buckets. Tip: It is much easier to shovel
mulch off a paved surface than
tarps or grass, however, some mulches (dyed) may stain
A flat scoops work best for shoveling off pavement. We prefer
to use a long handled #2 coal shovel, but we've even seen
homeowners use snow shovels!
A pitchfork works well for handling most mulch products, as
long as the mulch isn't too finely ground. You will need to
shovel for fine textured and decorative stone products.
Smoothing out mulch
After scooping a pitchfork full of mulch into your landscape
bed, use a back and forth motion to smooth out the mulch (as
indicated by the white arrows in the photo on the right).
Note: The mulch in the photo is double shredded, dyed brown,
[Video of this