Mulch is a very useful product when used in your shrub, annual, or flower beds. It retains moisture for plant roots, blocks weed growth, and is just plain better looking than dirt. Properly preparing your beds for Mulch Installation ensures the best outcome for weed management and the cleanest looking final product.
As part of a complete bed cleanup and mulch project you should always get your shrubs and trees nice and tidy for the growing season. Pruning as the initial part of the process is important because the clippings will become a mess that will hamper your efforts at later steps.
All plants have different pruning requirements and recommendations. For example, Hydrangeas should be cut down to no more than 2-3 leaf buds, and second year deadwood should be completely removed. Make sure to research the pruning style for your particular plants before causing damage.
As last season’s mulch has undoubtably broken down over winter, weeds have inevitably taken over your garden oasis. This step is the most crucial in the Mulching process. Removing established broadleaf weeds as far to the root as possible will give your new mulch its best chance to do its thing.
- Hand Weeding: Most surface dwelling annual grasses and ground cover weeds can be pretty easily removed by hand.
- Weeding Tool: Metal tools such a weeding spade can help to create more force to remove deeply rooted perennial weeds such as dandelions and crabgrass.
- Weed Whacking: In large open areas very saturated with taller weeds, using a gas powered trimmer can make quicker work of removing unwanted green from the surface. This does not remove the roots, so aggressive management will be needed later as these may appear more quickly post Mulching.
- Spray: This is not the time to spray. Herbicide sprays will be more effective for post-emergent weeds that appear in the future, but spraying now and leaving the green during Mulching will cause undesirable results.
3. Bed Edging
Edging your beds prior to Installing Mulch is not just for aestetic purposes. This step creates a barrier between your Mulch and the rest of your Lawn. Weeds that may exist in you Grass Turf areas are less likely to spread or seed into your Garden beds with this barrier. Using a straight shovel or spade, dig a staight edge about 2 inches deep and allow the dirt to flow in a downward “trench-like” fashion.
4. Pre-Emergent Weed Control
Now that you have spent a great deal of time and effort preparing your beds to Deliver of Fresh New Mulch, it is the best time to protect your investment from future Weed infiltration. Although their are several types, Preen is the most commonly and widely used granular weed control for Mulch beds. Just shake or spread a healthy amount of granules on the bare dirt and you are ready and protected.
5. Mulch Istallation
Now that your Weeds are pulled, Shrubs pruned, and edges crisper than a new pair of jeans: it’s time to install that new layer of Mulch. Here are some important things to remember when laying down new mulch
- The most important facet of Mulch Installation is correct depth. The most commonly reccomended depth is 2 to 3 inches. Too little and your plants won’t get proper moisture and weeds will thrive. Too much and you can cause too much moisture causing “Root Rot”.
- Install Mulch on a dry day as wet mulch can become clumpy an hard to make look even.
- Chose mulch color based on what looks best with your home color and flowering plant types.
- Cheap economy mulch can attract damaging insects such as Termites and Carpenter Ants. Also low cost mulch loses color quickly and has less weed prevention abilities.
- Large trees should not have mulch touching the base at all. This is known as Mulch “Volcanoes”, or “Volcane-NO’s!”. This can kill your tree through suffocation.
6. Routine Maintenance
Now that you have graduated Mulch Preparation University, it is time to take all that you have learned and keep those Mulch beds looking good. A few minutes a week will go a long way in maintaining your hard work. Here are a few important steps to take during your regular Lawn Mowing Maintenance Schedule.
- Direct you mower’s chute away from your beds. Clippings will spread grass and weed seed, which will easily propogate on the top of the Mulch surface.
- Pull small weeds as you see them pop up. This will prevent weeds from establishing large root systems and becoming bigger problems later.
- Prune shrubs and hedges regularly to maintain a clean look and prevent invasive species from intermingling with shrubs.
- Water regularly with your lawn. Mulch needs moisture just as does your lawn. Without regular watering, mulch dries out, deprives surronding plant roots, and allows weeds to thrive.