We probably all have the same reaction when it comes time to mulch in the spring… Really, already? Is it worth it? Is it just for aesthetics? Is this a priority?
Yes. Yes. No. Yes.
Mulch is most definitely worth it. Just ask Charlie Humphreys, our resident plant expert, about mulch. You may want to grab a chair though since he can talk about mulch for quite a while. Sure, a properly edged and mulched bed will make a finished landscape pop aesthetically, but the benefits of mulching go way beyond that. First, it’s creating a protective layer on top of your plants’ root systems and suppresses weed growth. Second, as the mulch breaks down it’s adding beneficial organic matter to your soil. And third, it helps cut down on watering by maintaining a higher moisture level in the soil. In terms of priority, we’d also argue that if you’re going to mulch, then yes, it’s definitely a priority for early spring. Spring in Virginia always comes in a hurry, and before you know it, it’s time to start mowing, landscape installs are rolling, and your focus has shifted to a million other items.
What type of mulch should you use? Good question. Our favorite is a double shredded hardwood mulch blended with pine mulch. Hardwood mulch breaks down slower, lasts longer, and is better for weed suppression, but since it forms a thick mat it can be tough for water to fully penetrate. The pine mulch blended in is more permeable, and also breaks down faster. This increases the amount of moisture getting to the soil, while also kickstarting the biodegradation process, which is how you get organic material to your plants.
What about dyed mulch? That’s a matter of personal opinion. Harwood mulch tends to bleach out in the summer months, and the dye simply helps mulch keep a darker color for longer. Us, we’re purists and like the natural look of non-dyed mulch. No doubt, however, you could easily find a landscaper who disagreed. To each their own.
If you’re though unsure just ask. Any good landscaper or mulch vendor should be able to talk about mulch until you have to ask them to stop. Below are a few examples of different types of mulch.