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Yard Mulch Tips and Tricks

Yard Mulch Tips and Tricks

Spring means that homeowners are once again resuming their yard activities, including ensuring that the lawn is in tip-top shape and remains that way until late fall. The three- to four-month respite from lawn care is now over and the hard work has returned. For some homeowners, lawn maintenance is not something that is desirable, rather it can be looked upon with dread.

There are ways for you to reduce your lawn care burden without converting your yard to wild flowers or leaving it nature’s capable, but unplanned hands. Mulching can reduce maintenance, giving you more time to do what you really want to do such as resting leisurely in a hammock.

Yard Mulch Considerations

Mulching does something that is entirely beneficial to your shrubs and trees: it eliminate mowing, thereby preventing damage from blades and weed whackers. Most weeds are also prevented from growing provided that two to four inches of mulch is evenly spread about.

Mulch also helps conserve moisture, reducing if not entirely eliminating the need to water throughout the summer. With mulch in place you can also reduce soil compaction, erosion and water run off. Mulch also can keep your lawn temperature fairly even — cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter.

What to keep in mind:

1. Mulch can be applied year ’round. However, if you are looking for a warm season benefit, then wait until late spring to apply mulch, just after the ground has warmed.

2. Use organic materials. Certainly, you can spread rocks, chopped up rubber and even plastics as mulch. However, why not use natural organic materials? As long as you choose mulch that is weed-free and not diseased, then your yard can benefit. Choose fine particle organic mulch for complete cover.

3. Select your materials carefully. Organic mulch will decompose over time, therefore expect to replenish it as needed. Pine straw can stay in place easier than pine bark, but it is also flammable and should not be placed close to the house. Chopped up leaves, grass clippings and small twigs can be used, but you may find that these materials do not look particularly attractive when placed in your front yard.

4. About black plastic. While some inorganic mulch materials such as rocks and pebbles may work well with some gardens, black plastic can prove problematic. Plastic does an excellent job in keeping weeds at bay, but it can also prevent water, air and nutrients from penetrating the soil.

5. Not too deep. Your neighbor has been ringing his trees with mulch for years. Unfortunately, he has been layering it so deeply that the plants that are also ringing the tree are not setting root in the soil, rather in the mulch. Mulch depths range from about a half an inch to six inches — go lighter if you are planting shrubbery too.

Getting Help

If you are not certain how to apply mulch, your local garden center can help. You can also check with your state’s cooperative extension service to speak with an expert and perhaps to take a landscaping class. Find an office near you.

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