Frequently Asked Questions about Mulch
Why is mulch important in gardening and landscaping?
Mulch is great for your garden. It reduces weeds, helps prevent water evaporation and soil erosion, adds some nutrients, and improves the quality of the soil, making your landscape look attractive and finished.
What are the various kinds of mulch available?
There are a variety of organic and inorganic mulches. Wood chips and bark, shredded to varying degrees, are the most popular organic mulches. They are natural, so they absorb moisture, break down into plant-friendly matter, and can be put directly on top of the soil. Inorganic mulches, like rubber mulch or stone, do not break down but are excellent weed barriers (with or without under-matting) and protect areas prone to washouts. Check with the pros at Peach Country Tractor to discuss your options.
How do you measure how much mulch you need?
Depending on the size of your garden, mulch can be purchased in yards or bags. 13.5 bags of mulch equals about 1 yard of mulch – you know, the kind that is delivered to the bottom of your driveway! If you have a large area to cover, mulch delivery in yards will be the most cost-effective. Measure the square footage of the area and check Peach Country Tractor’s website to help you calculate how much mulch you need. Remember to take into account the depth of the mulch you want to cover – less depth for trees and grass, more depth for flowers and vegetables. Buying mulch in bulk is cheaper, so consider sharing a yard or two with a neighbor!
Is mulch safe for children, pets, and wildlife?
If mulch is not ingested, it is generally safe in a yard, garden, or farm setting. Of course, children need to be supervised to prevent putting mulch in their mouths. Outdoor cats may use mulch or soil as a litter box; Dogs may be more at risk if they are chewers, so big pieces of bark mulch and mulch with pine needles could be a choking hazard. It is noteworthy that cocoa bean mulch is toxic to dogs, although it is great for repelling insects.
Are compost and mulch the same thing?
Not really, although some people use mulch as compost, and others use compost as mulch. Compost is worked into the soil or added as a top layer of soil and is made of decomposed organic material. It adds nutrients to plants. Mulch is more of a top layer to protect the plants and the soil from weeds, erosion, and over-drying.
Are mulch rings good for trees?
If done correctly, mulching around trees is fine. It prevents erosion, protects and covers surface roots, and prevents weeds. However, arborists recommend leaving a 1-2 inch mulch-free zone around the trunk of the tree to prevent “collar rot.” They also recommend a shallower application of mulch to cover bare soil and exposed roots so as not to attract rodents.
Does mulch attract termites and other plant-eating pests?
Termites and other bugs do not eat mulch. However, they are attracted to the warm, sometimes moist environment underneath the mulch – a perfect place for larvae to grow. Check with the pros at Peach Country Tractor about adding some Diatomaceous Earth (DE) to your mulch. It dries up the bad bugs and is safe for pollinators like ladybugs and bees. Leaf-based mulches, which rot and break down very quickly, are the most likely to attract bugs. So, if you use leaf piles for mulch, you could be inviting bugs and larvae to your garden.
When is it best to add mulch to a garden?
Spring (after perennials have sprouted and annuals or vegetables have been planted) when the soil is warm. Fall is also an excellent time to mulch to hold in water and protect plant roots from winter weather. Wind and rain can displace mulch, too, so keep an eye out for thin spots that might need replenishing.
Does mulch need to be changed?
Smaller shreds of organic mulch can be turned into the soil, but generally, it is advisable to rake up and dispose of old mulch before putting a new layer down. Depending on weather conditions, old mulch may have attracted some mold or fungus, so grab those garden gloves, a yard waste bag and rake up a layer or two. Inorganic mulch like rubber or rock should be removed before adding new mulch, although a helpful tip is to rake the stone or rubber pellets to the side, put in your plants, and rake the mulch back around the plant. Inorganic mulch made from rubber or large stone should not be incorporated into the soil.
Thank you for joining us here at Peach Country Tractor for our version of Mulch Madness FAQs – by the bag or by the yard! Check out our mulch & landscape products or give us a call to see how we can help you with all of your gardening needs.