Mulch Benefits

Mulching is one of the best ways to maintain soil moisture and minimize the need to weed! No matter what condition your garden is in, adding a layer of mulch will give it a clean, freshly planted look. But the benefits of mulch are not just cosmetic. Mulching is one of the best ways to maintain soil moisture and to save on your water bill!

Here's what you need to know to get started.

Simple Facts About Mulch

1.) A mulch layer around trees, shrubs, planted beds and covering bare ground provides many benefits. In areas that are difficult to mow, irrigate or otherwise maintain, use mulch to replace turf or groundcovers. Also consider placing mulch in shady areas where plants don't grow well.

2.) Organic mulch materials improve soil fertility as they decompose.

3.) Mulch buffers soil temperature, keeping soils warmer in winter and cooler in summer.

4.) Mulch also helps maintain soil moisture by reducing evaporation. A layer of mulch also minimizes water needs for established plants.

5.) Fresh mulch inhibits weed germination and growth.

6.) Over time, many types of mulch break down improving soil aeration, structure and drainage.

7.) A mulch layer can inhibit certain plant diseases. Such as soilborne pathogens that cause diseases of plants.

8.) Mulching around trees and shrubs (not against the trunk) will ease maintenance and reduce water use.

Guidelines for Using mulch

Follow these tips when adding mulch to your landscape:

For well-drained sites, apply a 2"-3" layer of mulch around trees, shrubs and bedding plants. Coarse materials, such as pine nuggets or walk-ons, may be applied to a depth of 4", but don't allow mulch to accumulate to a greater depth. If mulch is already present, check the depth. Do not add mulch if there is a sufficient layer in place (2"-3").

Mulch applied too deeply or "Volcano mulching", hinders oxygen exchange to roots, which stresses the plant and causes root rot. Do not place mulch on top of a tree's root ball or against the trunk. More than about 1 inch of mulch on the root ball of newly planted trees and shrubs can stress plants because mulch can intercept water meant for the roots. Mulch piled high against the trunks of young trees may also create habitats for rodents that chew the bark and can girdle the trees.

Mulch out to a tree's drip line or beyond -- at least an 8-foot diameter around the tree. Remember that in a forest environment, a tree's entire root system (which usually extends well beyond the drip line) would be mulched.

Thick blankets of fine mulch can become matted and may prevent water and air from seeping through or become like potting soil and support weed growth. Rake old mulch to break up any matted layers and to refresh the appearance.

Organic mulches may require weeding and replenishment once or twice a year to maintain a total depth of 2 inches to 3 inches.

Do not use cypress mulch because harvesting from the wild depletes wetlands.

There is a large variety of mulches out there. Orchard Wood, Redwood, Eco grinds, Straw, Lava Rocks, Pebbles, Grass Clippings, etc. the list seems almost endless. Each has a list of Pro's and Con's. Shell, crushed stone, or pebbles can be used as mulch, but they won't contribute to the soil's nutrient and organic content or water-holding capacity. Limestone and shell both raise soil pH and reflect heat, increasing the water needs of plants. Green's Best Orchard Wood and redwood mulches and walk-ons help retain moisture and provide essential organic nutrients during break down, providing a perfect groundcover for the extremely dry weather in our Central Valley.

How Much Mulch?

Green's Best's mulch is sold in cubic yards. To calculate the amount of mulch you need, first measure the area to be mulched, in square feet. Next convert the desired depth to a fraction of a foot. For example, 3 inches divided by 12 inches equals ¼ foot or 0.25 foot. Multiply this fraction by the square-foot measurement of the area to be covered (.25 foot x 100 square feet = 25 cubic feet). Convert cubic feet to cubic yards by dividing cubic feet by 27 (25/27 = . 926). To cover a 100-square-foot area to a depth of 3 inches, you will need .926 cubic yards. Or for those of you who like keeping their sanity, we also have a handy mulch calculator on our home page!