Bob’s Tuesday’s Tips: Much About Mulch

Mulch Varieties

Mulch varieties

In my daily travels, I have noticed several garden beds that are in need of fresh mulch (including my own), and I thought a reminder would be worthwhile.

Mulched beds offer a great deal of benefit for the plants and the general appearance of the property. Here are a few tips and recommendations regarding mulch.

Hardwood Bark Mulch: This is brown mulch from the bark of harvested hardwood trees. It’s also referred to as “double ground” mulch and is the most popular variety. It is a fairly fine ground and will hold moisture very effectively, break down evenly, and looks good for a whole season. This type of mulch is recommended most frequently.

Leaf Mold Mulch: This mulch is comprised of composted leaves from the last fall and appears almost black. This is an excellent product that will retain moisture, keep the soil cool and provide nutrition to the soil. It is typically acidic and will break down fairly quickly as it continues to decompose. I don’t recommend applying this mulch deeper than
2 inches.

Wood Chips: This comes from tree service companies and their wood chippers. I don’t recommend this product for the garden bed as it does not retain moisture, is slow to breakdown, and has little nutritional value. This product should be reserved for walking paths and play areas.

Depth: In order to be effective, mulch needs to be applied a minimum of 2 inches deep not to exceed 3 inches. The
2 inch depth will effectively retain moisture, keep the soil cool, and resist a rapid break down.

Maintenance: Every couple of months, it’s a good idea to break-up the mulch with a hard rake or hoe. Most mulch products will clump and actually form a moisture barrier on the soil. Keep mulch turned and it will continue to function properly through it’s life cycle. This practice will prevent the mulch from becoming “hydrophobic” or water resistant.

I have mentioned only a couple of types of mulch from a long list of available products. Other types that I would not recommend are: rock, recycled rubber (tires), ground-up pallets, or ground-up lumber.

Do you have any questions about your garden beds? Give us a call at 314-863-1700- we are happy to help!