The 411 On Spring Mulch
Posted on February 27, 2019 8:37 PM by LeAnn Swieczkowski
Writte by LeAnn Swieczkowski, 17-year CW Resident and Gardener Hobbyist
It’s spring and you are beginning to plan for the rebirth of your landscape. There is a cost to implementing your landscape plans and one of the greatest costs is mulch. So why not spread the right kind of organic mulch for your plantings?
You want to get mulch that will provide added nutrients and help maintain moisture, control soil erosion, inhibit weeds, and reduce fluctuation in the soil temperature. A 2-3-inch layer of mulch is desired (not 4-6 inches). You must allow for water and air to penetrate the soil easily, and thickly laid mulch prohibits this. Also, mulch placed too thickly may provide habitat for voles and moles, cause plant rot, and attract pests.
A rule of thumb before applying new mulch is to remove the old mulch. Old mulch may contain weed seeds, mold, or other non-beneficial materials. There are many kinds of mulch to choose from...so what type should you use? Here are
- pine-bark nuggets (size matters - don’t get the largest because it will float away during a heavy rain)
- shredded hardwood (decomposes quickly and must be reapplied often)
- grass clippings (use only dry grass and beware of using it if you had your grass treated with herbicides or you have more weeds then grass in your clippings)
- pine needles (great on slopes but can stunt plant growth and is highly flammable).
If you are buying at a big box store, I recommend Cypress mulch because it can be effective in resisting insects and
fungus, is weed-seed free, and generally does not float away.
Another mulch source is Mecklenburg County’s Compost Central located at 140 Valleydale Road in Charlotte. The county recommends compost on its website saying it “is beneficial for the land,” is a “soil conditioner, a fertilizer” and “a natural pesticide for soil.” Their stock is tested regularly to ensure it is “weed seed and pathogen free.” For more county information visit www.mecknc.gov or call 311. They deliver for a fee and offer several options for pickup – see their website for details on pricing.
Finally, never allow your mulch to mound up to tree trunks. This will prevent bark decay and insects from attacking the tree. Keep mulch 6-12 inches from the trunk and place 2-3-inch depth of pebbles in that area or leave it uncovered.