• Mulch Ado About Spring

  • When the sun has decided to make an appearance after months of hibernation, moods lift, smiles are more frequent, lawns green up …and landscape beds are looking pretty sorry.

    Yep, it’s time for the annual spring clean ritual which includes fueling our sorry addiction to mulch.  While we are passionate about landscapes and all that goes with it, the mulch craze leaves something to be improved upon.  Fortunately there are a few strategies to ease the pain, both muscular and financial.  NOTE: start with a few Advil.

    Adding to our distaste is the endless varieties of mulch available.  Choice is a great thing, but ordering a load of mulch is similar to a visit to Starbucks loaded with questions regarding colors, quality and quantity.  I prefer the good old fashioned, premium, hardwood shredded mulch void of nasty additives of pulverized pallets, rail road ties and sand.  Sure, it tends to break down and compost faster than your grande mocha latte decaf becomes too cold to work its’ magic … but as it breaks down, it feeds the plants, causes the soil to be rich and full of goodies, retards weed growth and retains moisture better than most alternatives. Need more information about mulch? Visit our YouTube Channel!

    Unfortunately, my “fav” premium hardwood tends to fade out mid summer while the edgy dyed decadence mulch continues to blast and offers a marvelous contrast to the shrubs and perennials that it is there to protect.  Many dyed products are produced from less appealing wood products so question the origin of the wood.  Better, try the pulverized, recycled rubber mulch.  It’s expensive initially, but very life-like.

    REDUCING YOUR FIX

    A growing trend is to plant in waves and masses in an effort to consume some of the mulch space, thereby reducing the quantity needed.  Try non-aggressive ground covers too.  Eventually, they will eat up most of the bed space that requires mulching.  We like creeping ajuga (burgundy glow and variegated varieties), creeping sedum, baltic ivy and emerald pink creeping phlox.  Crushed stone as a mulching material can “rock”, but it takes the right house and environment to make sense.  

    BUT FIRST…

    Cut spent perennials, all ornamental grasses and overgrown tired spireaa and a few other deciduous shrubs back to the ground.  Really, all the way to the ground.  Follow immediately by removing all winters visiting debris, cut a clean edge into the bed and apply an all purpose 12.12.12 fertilizer and pre-emergent weed control to the beds.  Flowering shrubs will appreciate a shrub specific fertilizer.  All steps are critical for happy, healthy beds and the above sequence is advised.

    Happy mulching.