Landscaping 101: Why Should I Mulch?

Mulch in a garden with a stone retaining wall.

We often get people asking us, “Why should I mulch?”

It’s something that many people do to their gardens but they aren’t sure why they’re doing it.

There are two primary benefits of applying mulch to your tree and shrub beds.

a) It increases the aesthetic appeal of your landscape
b) It benefits the health of the plants

What is mulch?

Mulch is a layer of material that is spread on top of the soil around the base of you plants, shrubs or 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 and provide an optimal environment for root growth and mineral uptake.

Urban and suburban landscapes, however, are typically a much harsher environment. They have poorer soils, little organic matter, and large fluctuations in temperature and moisture. Mulch is used as a solution to these problems.

What are the benefits of mulching?

These are the top reasons to consider mulching:

  • Helps soil retain moisture
  • Suppresses weeds
  • Regulates soil temperature
  • Inhibits some plant diseases
  • Some mulches will add organic matter to the soil as they breakdown
  • Over time, mulched beds will have improved aeration and drainage
  • Give your beds a neater, more organized appearance

Do’s & Dont’s of Mulching

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

1. Apply a 2 to 3-inch layer in your garden. Too much mulch can lead to excess moisture in the soil, causing fungal issues and root rot.
2. Keep the 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 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 you are looking for professional landscaping services for your residential or commercial property, let us know!