How to Lay Mulch

Mulching is one of the simplest yet most effective ways to improve the health and appearance of your yard. By following these steps, you can ensure your garden beds thrive while also adding a polished look to your landscape.

Step 1: Choose the Right Mulch

Selecting the right mulch is crucial for the success of your garden beds. Hawkins Landscape Supply offers a variety of mulches, each suited for different uses:

  • Premium Double Shredded Hardwood Bark: Ideal for garden beds and around trees and shrubs. This mulch provides excellent moisture retention and weed suppression.
  • Color Enhanced Mulch (Brown, Red, Black): Perfect for adding aesthetic appeal to your landscape while still offering the benefits of weed control and moisture retention.
  • Wood Chips: Great for playgrounds and pathways, providing a natural look and cushioning effect.
  • Compost Mulch: Best used for enriching soil in vegetable gardens and flower beds, adding nutrients as it decomposes.
  • Leaf Mulch: Excellent for use in perennial beds, helping to improve soil structure and fertility over time.

Step 2: Calculate the Amount of Mulch Needed

Calculating the correct amount of mulch is essential to ensure you don’t end up with too much or too little. Here’s a simple method to determine how much you need:

  1. Measure the Area: Determine the total square footage of the area you want to mulch. For rectangular or square areas, multiply the length by the width. For circular areas, use the formula π (Pi) x (Radius)^2.
  2. Determine Desired Depth: Mulch is typically applied in layers of 2 to 4 inches deep. Convert this depth to feet for easier calculation (2 inches = 1/6 foot, 3 inches = 1/4 foot, 4 inches = 1/3 foot).
  3. Calculate Volume: Multiply the area by the desired depth to find the volume of mulch needed in cubic feet. For example, if you have a 600 square foot area and want to apply 3 inches of mulch:600 sq. ft.×14 ft. (depth)=150 cubic feet600 \text{ sq. ft.} \times \frac{1}{4} \text{ ft. (depth)} = 150 \text{ cubic feet}600 sq. ft.×41​ ft. (depth)=150 cubic feet
  4. Convert to Cubic Yards: Since mulch is often sold in cubic yards, convert cubic feet to cubic yards by dividing by 27 (since 1 cubic yard = 27 cubic feet). Continuing the example:150 cubic feet÷27=5.56 cubic yards150 \text{ cubic feet} \div 27 = 5.56 \text{ cubic yards}150 cubic feet÷27=5.56 cubic yardsIt’s best to round up to ensure you have enough mulch, so you would need about 6 cubic yards.

For reference, bags of mulch are often sold in 2 or 3 cubic feet sizes, so adjust your calculations accordingly:

  • 2 cubic feet covers 12 sq. ft. at 2 inches deep, 8 sq. ft. at 3 inches deep.
  • 3 cubic feet covers 18 sq. ft. at 2 inches deep, 12 sq. ft. at 3 inches deep.

Step 3: Gather the Right Tools

Having the right tools can make the mulching process much easier and more efficient. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Wheelbarrow: For transporting mulch from the pile to the garden beds.
  • Garden Fork or Shovel: To scoop and spread the mulch.
  • Rake: For leveling the mulch evenly across the beds.
  • Gloves: To protect your hands from splinters and dirt.
  • Landscape Fabric and Staples: If you plan to use fabric for weed control.
  • Measuring Tape: To ensure you have accurate area measurements.
  • Garden Spade or Edging Tool: To create clean edges around your garden beds.
  • Watering Can or Hose: For watering the mulch after application.

Step 4: Prepare the Area

Start by weeding the area thoroughly. Remove any existing mulch, debris, or unwanted plants. If your soil is compacted, consider loosening it with a garden fork or tiller to allow better water and air penetration.

Step 5: Edge the Beds

Creating a defined edge around your garden beds helps contain the mulch and gives your landscape a clean, professional look. You can use a garden spade or an edging tool to create a sharp boundary between your lawn and the mulched area.

Step 6: Lay Down Landscape Fabric (Optional)

For added weed control, you can lay down landscape fabric before applying the mulch. Cut the fabric to fit your garden beds, making sure to overlap the edges slightly. Secure the fabric with landscape staples to keep it in place.

Step 7: Apply the Mulch

Spread the mulch evenly over the prepared area. For best results, aim for a 2- to 4-inch layer. Too thin a layer won’t provide adequate weed suppression, while too thick a layer can restrict air and water flow to the soil.

  • Around Trees and Shrubs: Leave a gap of a few inches around the base of trees and shrubs to prevent moisture buildup, which can lead to rot.
  • In Flower Beds: Spread mulch evenly, making sure not to bury the plants. Leave a small space around stems and trunks.

Step 8: Water the Mulch

Once the mulch is in place, water it thoroughly. This helps settle the mulch and keeps it from blowing away. It also helps to integrate the mulch into the soil and kick-starts the decomposition process for organic mulches.

Step 9: Maintain the Mulch

Over time, mulch will break down and may require replenishing. Check your mulch depth periodically and add more as needed to maintain the 2- to 4-inch layer. Regularly remove any weeds that manage to poke through the mulch to keep your garden beds looking neat.

By following these steps, you can lay mulch effectively and enjoy a healthier, more attractive yard. Happy gardening!

Read More:

How Much Mulch Should I Buy?

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