When and when not to mulch – that is the question! I have been to numerous homeowner associations and residential properties where I have seen mulch that was applied incorrectly. Either it was the incorrect type of mulch, not enough mulch, entirely too much mulch, or mulch that looks so old it’s petrified.
What I see 9 times out of 10 is mulch that has been over applied. We have to remember that mulch is a natural material and that it WILL break down over time. If you feel the need to add mulch, please first go and take a look at what your depth is (proper mulch depth should be between 2.5-3 inches). If you notice that it is at the correct depth, take a hard rake, fluff the mulch to even out the decomposition process and give it a better appearance. You’ll not only save money – you’ll also stop the build up of mulch and avoid creating disease and inviting problem pests that damage the foundation of your house and plants. Plus, you’ll spruce up the old mulch so it does not look old and petrified, giving it a much more professional appearance. If you feel the need to swap out a different type of mulch, don’t just throw it on top of the previous mulch. Take a hard rake and rake off the previous mulch, dispose of it, and add the new mulch. This will stop the buildup of mulch around your garden beds, giving it a happier and rejuvenated look (feeling?)!
All of these steps take time and I’ve had multiple people not understand the end result. They take the route they wanted and it ends up costing them much more in the end. It does take time for a garden to buildup with mulch, but with time if you do not fix the problem, it will become a much bigger issue.
In relation to my last post about proper tree planting – do not add mulch around the base of your tree. Instead, move the mulch back a few inches to provide a spot that bugs and disease cannot thrive in.