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The Power of Mulch

Mulch and plants go together like peanut butter and jelly, and honestly no spring landscape is complete without it. Not only is mulch aesthetically pleasing, it helps to insulate plants, suppress weeds, retain water, and so much more! If you haven’t been adding mulch to your landscape then you’ve really been missing out. Check out the many benefits of mulch below!

Image from Atlantic-Mulch.

The main benefit of adding new mulch to your beds is to suppress unwanted weeds. If sun can get to bare dirt, then weeds will germinate. Mulch acts as a protective layer between the sun and the dirt, preventing unwanted weeds from getting the sunlight they need to grow. A pre-emergent should be sprayed before the mulch is added, as an extra layer of protection. In some cases landscaping fabric is added under the mulch as well, especially when using stone mulch or in areas prone to erosion. The landscaping fabric creates yet another barrier between the sun and the soil.

Mulch absorbs and retains water, making it essential for poorly drained areas or flower beds on a steep grade. Mulch also acts as an insulator, keeping the heat in and preventing an unexpected frost from damaging your plants. It regulates the temperature of the soil and helps reduce any significant swings that could injure your plant’s roots. Mulch is organic matter, so as it breaks down over time it will improve the soil below. It also helps keep the soil chemically balanced, by retaining several key nutrients such as magnesium, calcium, phosphorus and potassium.

Sometimes mulch is used in shaded or damaged areas where grass just won’t grow. Creating mulch beds is a surefire way to remedy a damaged landscape, but it’s also an opportunity to be creative and make your landscape truly one-of-a-kind. It’s a way to display plants and establish areas of interest throughout your landscape. A unique landscape, paired with various larger plants, adds curb appeal to your home and drives up its perceived value by up to 15%. You can read more about that here. Mulch beds and defined spaces also make your landscape easier to mow and maintain.

When adding fresh mulch to your beds, more mulch is not always better; 2” is about all you need. Adding too much mulch, such as creating a mound around a tree, creates a space for insects to hide; creating the potential for insect infestation and related disease. Furthermore, landscape fabrics will help reduce weed seed growth, but organic matter will inevitably get between the mulch and the fabric; causing weeds to sprout. Simply put, there’s no such thing as a maintenance-free mulch. At some point, weeds will be in your beds and need to be pulled and/or sprayed.

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