• Seven Myths (and Truths) About Mulch

  • Mulch prompts more emotional and diverse response than any other topic regarding outdoor living. Sure, we can debate the merits of pavers versus natural stone and the real value of a pergola … but if you want to get emotional, lets talk mulch.

    Here are seven myths and truths you need to know before you get your annual mulch fix:

    1. MYTH:  All mulch is created equal. Ha. No way. Most mulch is created from a number of “natural” by-products that sound harmless. But pulverized pallets, railroad ties and sand fillers have absolutely no place in your landscape beds. They suck the nutrients out of the ground and turn hard and crusty after a few months not allowing moisture to adequately penetrate to the plants root system. Demand premium, shredded, hardwood, bark mulch with NO fillers and you will be thrilled. Ask for the black or brown dyed and you will be even happier.
    2. MYTH:  All plants need a solid 4” of mulch. Hmmm. Our perennials would suffocate with that much. Give them 2” and they will be thrilled. While you are at it, pile it on around evergreen trees and dwarf alberta spruce, but no more than 4” and keep it away from the base of all plants and especially tree trunks.
    3. MYTH:  Dyed mulch is horrible. We agree, if the color is anything but brown or black. Orange or red mulch has no place in our beds. It could certainly work in other areas of the nation where cypress grows rampantly and the byproduct is used for mulch. Not here though. Most dyes are water based and have zero impact on our plants, and it keeps the mulch looking new for close to two years.
    4. FACT:  Mulch really does help control weed growth, particularly coupled with a pre-emergent weed control spread in the early spring and early fall.
    5. FACT:  Mulch also aides greatly in moisture retention. Something we really appreciate with the summer drought conditions we have experienced.
    6. FACT & MYTH:  Mulching annually is often preferred but occasionally skipping a year or going 18 months can allow last year’s mulch to fully compost and feed the plants. Be prepared for a little extra weed growth however.
    7. MYTH:  There is no alternative to mulch. Thankfully there are plenty of mulch solutions. Try beds of groundcover or small beds of stone mulch. Heavily planted beds of ornamental grasses, evergreens or perennials simply have nothing to mulch.

    Hope that helps! Happy mulching … or finding alternatives.