Tips & Techniques
For Betterdays in Full Swing.

Mulching 101


By Jane Milliman

Mulching. There are few gardening chores that make such an impact on your yard. In one fell swoop you can suppress weeds, retain moisture, stabilize soil temperatures and make the garden look nice and buttoned up. Before you transform your space with a fresh layer of mulch, take a moment to consider a few basics so you mulch right the first time.

Which Mulch Do I Choose?

What kind of mulch you use depends largely on what you need it for. Under a mighty oak, big chunks of bark might be in order. They’ll break down slowly and look good for a few years. In the vegetable garden, straw is often a good idea—just make sure to water it well, with the flower pattern of your Gilmour Front Control Watering Nozzle, after spreading so it doesn’t fly away.

The possibilities are nearly endless. I’ve seen everything from large, round, river rock to pea gravel (both are great for areas that are prone to pooling water); from cocoa shells (my mother’s favorite) to pine needles (great for acidifying the soil around rhododendrons and azaleas); from shredded rubber to pine cones (to deter cats and other garden pests).


If you’re going with popular shredded wood mulches (including cedar and cypress), note that you may have to replenish it more frequently than chunkier bark mulches, which take longer to decompose.

How Much Do I Buy? 

Calculate how much mulch you need by measuring the square footage of each landscape bed you will cover (that’s the width times the length). Under most circumstances, you’ll want to cover the ground with two inches of mulch.

If you need a large quantity, it’s much cheaper to buy mulch by the bucket loader or truck load from a local garden center or yard service. Most of the time, though, buying it in bags is easiest and makes spreading much more efficient, too—you can plop the bags around the garden, cut open and spread, as opposed to going back and forth to a giant pile with a cart dozens of times.

How Do I Use It?

Before spreading your mulch, a little prep work is essential:

There are some mulching pitfalls to be wary of:

Once your mulch is where you want it, sweep adjacent walkways, driveways and sidewalks. Then, blast them with the jet setting of a cleaning nozzle to keep your newly freshened landscape looking neat and tidy.

Tagged in: Gardeninglandscapingmulchwater savingweeds

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