Gardener mulching the ground with juniper bark.

How Much Mulch Should I Buy?

Although summer is raging on, there isn’t a better time to lay down a fresh layer of mulch. Some may wonder, why would I want to do that now? The answer to that is simple: There’s no better time than the present! The right mulch can do a plethora of things from drowning out weeds, adding nutrients to the soil, boosting your plant’s health, or just plain keeping your garden clean! Here is everything you need to know about this life-changing garden hack before you roll up your gloves and get to mulching!

What Exactly is Mulch?

Well, mulch can be just about anything, anything that can be organically broken down that is. Tree branches, lawn trimmings, leftover leaves, and any dead plant found in your garden can be used as mulch. Mulch, when placed over soil, slowly breaks down and gives plants extra nutrients while also protecting their roots from the sun. However, because Mulch is planted over preexisting plants, weeds can’t break through, thus eliminating the need for weeding.

As for where it belongs, it belongs everywhere. Around bushes and shrubs, flower beds, and herb gardens, it can go anywhere plants need a little extra boost! It doesn’t even have to provide a boost to be useful. You can simply lay down a layer to keep your garden looking elegant. It even protects trees from lawn mowers and string trimmers, so long as you don’t put it around the tree in a mulch volcano. That will encourage decay.

So How Much Mulch Do I Need?

So you have your garden dreams in mind and tools in hand, but what now? Well, now it’s time for a little biology! You see, while mulch is extremely beneficial, it’s not something you should go overboard for. Plant roots actually need air to breathe, so suffocating them beneath their mulchy blanket is bad for their health. However, if some plants need more mulch, great! Most only require two inches of mulch, but be sure to read up on your plant ahead of time! 

Now that the biology is done, it’s time for a little sixth-grade math! When it comes to calculating the amount of mulch you need, you’re gonna want a calculator and some writing supplies. Don’t worry though, folks; it’s not as hard as it seems! 

If your garden is a simple square or rectangle, you’d use the classic area formula as shown below:

Length x Width = Area

If it is a circle you’ll need a slightly different formula, and one that might need a calculator:

Π  x (Radius of the Circle)2 = Area

If it’s anything other than a circle or rectangle, well you’ll have to get a bit creative with your math work. One thing that always helped me is to take some grid paper and make one square=1sq. foot. If you draw the outline of your garden you can count the squares and guesstimate the rest. It’s not perfect, but like in archery, you get points for getting close.

Now, let’s say you have your calculations. What then? Well, I’ll give a demonstration. Let’s say I have a flower garden with an area of about 600 sqft. Now let’s say you want a depth of three inches. Well, this is where the volume formula of Base x Width x Height comes in, and the three-inch becomes the height.

So you would take 600 x 3ft sq = 1800.

After that, divide your result by 324 (1 Cubic yard covers 324 ft) 

My answer would be 5.5, but I would round that up to 6 to find out I need six cubic yards of mulch. This doesn’t work all the time however as some bags come in cubic feet, and while three cubic feet equals a cubic yard the math becomes a little tricky when it comes in bags of two cubic feet. This little table should help:

2 cubic feet covers:

24 sq. ft. 1” deep

12 sq. ft. 2” deep

8 sq. ft. 3” deep

3 Cubic Feet covers:

36 sq. ft. 1” deep

18 sq. ft. 2” deep

12 sq. ft. 3” deep

What is the Best Mulch?

Now, this is the winning question. After all, not all mulches are equal. Although you can use sticks and leaves, most pale in comparison to industry standard bark mulch. Because of the thickness of bark mulch, it’s much harder for it to be blown away unlike their leafy and twiggy counterparts. They also hold moisture a bit better and come in a uniform color that can give your garden a sleek look. However certain projects prefer different mulches like vegetable gardens prefer straw, but bark mulch is typically a gardener’s first choice.

However, even though bark mulch is at the top of its game, there are still certain things you need to be aware of. Organic garden mulch is best as some companies can add inorganic dyes to their mulch, and while some can be harmless others could wreak havoc on your garden. It’s also best to avoid municipality transfer stations, as even though they may pass out mulch for free you have no idea what’s there. It can contain grass that’s laced with pesticides or weed seeds. For mulch, it’s better to turn to a trusted source like nurseries who can tell you exactly where their mulch is sourced from.

Trust Hawkins Landscape Supply to Supply Your Mulch Needs!

So, where do you get mulch delivered from? With many different places and avenues, the options seem almost endless, but it doesn’t have to be. What you need is good mulch from good people, and who better than Hawkins Landscape Supply? For the last fifty years, Hawkins Landscape Supply, a family-owned business, has been providing exemplary service, assisting customers from anywhere from Maryland to Northwest Washington! With a wide array of mulches to fit whatever your garden requires, they guarantee a 100% satisfaction rate and free delivery (who doesn’t love free?). Who better to give a shot? But hey, don’t just take my word for it, call them up and find out what their satisfied clients already know. They’d love to talk to you and answer all your gardening needs, and will even do a few of your calculations if you ask so nicely.

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