When to Mulch and Other Considerations

Spring is an ideal time to mulch the beds on your property, especially following the wet weather we experience during winter. Over time, hardwood and pine straw mulch breaks down and your beds will require a fresh layer to gain all of the benefits. Fall cleanups also take a toll on landscape beds—you’ll naturally lose some mulch during the process. Sun, wind, and decomposition wear out mulch, too.

Generally, mulch has a shelf life of less than one year. Mulch should be replaced at least once every year. Spring is the time to replace that mulch so you can prepare plants to take the heat and retain moisture in summer. (Mulch is an ideal root insulator.)

You might be wondering how much mulch your property will require, and what is the best type of mulch for your property. Also, how much can you expect to spend on mulch this year?

Let’s address these questions.

How Much Mulch Does My Commercial Property Need?

First, when was the last time a fresh layer of mulch was applied to your landscape beds? If there is an existing layer of mulch, you can simply refresh the bed with a thin 1- to 1½-inch layer. This will restore the color while improving drainage, protecting against erosion, and insulating plant roots. Up to 3 inches of mulch might be necessary to cover bare spots.

When to mulch in the spring

If you are laying down mulch on top of the soil in a new landscape bed, more mulch is necessary to properly insulate plants and create a moisture/heat barrier. You will need up to 4 inches. But beware of applying too much mulch! In excess, mulch could actually prevent nutrients from reaching plant roots.

A landscape professional can assess your landscape beds and determine the appropriate amount of mulch. The amount could vary from one landscape bed to the next.

What Type Of Mulch Should I Choose: Hardwood or Pinestraw?

mulch in spring

Pinestraw: This is a popular choice in Ocean County for a number of reasons. First, it is widely available in the Pinelands and, therefore, competitively priced. Also, pine straw mulch creates a beneficial mat over landscape beds that is highly porous. This allows plenty of moisture to enter the soil and reach plant roots while protecting against run-off and erosion. Pinestraw tends to retain its color better than hardwood mulches. Also, because of the way pine straw mulch interlocks, the material allows weed seeds to fall through so they do not take root. However, pine straw breaks down more quickly than hardwood mulch, so you might need to replace it more often than once per year.

wood mulch

Hardwood Mulch: Hardwood mulches vary in color based on the material. Hardwood mulches can be made from pine, hardwood, cedar, and cypress, among others. Some property owners like that they can choose the color and texture: nuggets, mini-nuggets, shredded, chipped, or double milled. Shredded mulch is a great, general-purpose mulch that can be used in almost any landscape bed. However, chips and nuggets can be longer-lasting and work well around trees or play spaces. (Keep in mind, chips and nuggets also can get kicked around if there is heavy foot traffic in a space.)

No matter what type of mulch you choose, a fresh layer will immediately spruce up the appearance of your commercial property and benefit the plants. Because of mulch’s protective benefits, it is a critical aspect of preserving your investment in the landscape.

How Much Will I Have To Spend On Mulch?

Regardless of what type of mulch you choose, it is an annual expense that should be accounted for in your landscape budget. The availability and quality of mulch will impact the price. Also factor in how long mulch will last. Pinestraw tends to be economical because it is widely available in the south, but because of its thin texture, it tends to break down more easily and may require replacement in spring and fall.

Hardwood mulches come in such a range of colors, textures, and materials that the cost depends on the grade of mulch you choose. These mulches usually only need to be replaced annually.

As with estimating any landscape cost, the size and scope of the project must be considered. A professional will measure landscape beds to determine the square footage, and then estimate a mulch cost including labor based on time and materials costs.

Mulch in Spring Before the Weather Really Heats Up

Mulch protects plants from heat stress, and it helps landscape beds conserve moisture. This is especially important in Ocean County because we generally face some level of water restrictions as summer wears on. You invest a great deal of time and resources caring for your property, and mulch will keep the trees, shrubs, and flowers on your grounds healthy. Remember, if you need help–we’re here!

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