Lawnshavers offers mulch service throughout Cumming, GA and surrounding Forsyth County. Visit our lawn care service homepage to request a quote.
Why Mulch Is Used In Flowerbeds
There are a number of reasons mulch is used in flowerbeds and landscapes. First, it just looks good! Even if you don’t enjoy working in your yard or gardening, you know a crisp, clean lawn when you see one. There’s just something about a well-manicured lawn with rich green grass, bright flowers, and well-pruned plants contrasted by the pop of a well-maintained flowerbed.
But not only does mulch look good, it also plays an important supporting role in the health of your flowerbeds. It moderates the temperature of the soil, retains and regulates soil moisture, and prevents many weeds from invading the areas around your decorative shrubs and flowers.
Lastly, it provides organic nutrients for your plants as it breaks down.
Types Of Mulch
When planning your landscape beds, one of the first things you’ll consider is the type of mulch and the color. There are a variety of options to choose from:
Pine straw is a common and desirable product in the Cumming area. It’s relatively inexpensive, looks good, and is readily available. There are three common types: long needle, slash, and loblolly. Long needle pine straw is the premium, great looking pine straw that most landscapers prefer. It’s needles are usually 10” to 14” long. Visit our Cumming GA pine straw page for more information about pine straw products.
Cypress mulch is made from ground cypress trees. It’s resistant to wet rot and has a distinctive pleasant aroma. You’ll also find cypress mulch to hold its color and since it’s a heavier mulch, it works well in sloped areas.
Pine nugget mulch give a unique, rustic look to your landscape beds. They come in large and small sizes and it’s long lasting. Pine nuggets also don’t compress like other mulches so water and nutrients can be absorbed by the underlying soil more easily. The biggest drawback to pine nuggets is they are lightweight and will float away in pooled or running water.
Hardwood mulch is made from the shredded bark and wood of hardwood trees like oak and maple trees, and it will compact over time. This means it resists washing or blowing out of your landscape beds, but over time you’ll need to remove old mulch. Compacted mulch will prevent water and nutrients from reaching the roots of your desirable plants.
Brown, black, and red dyed mulches have become increasingly popular choices for lawn design and decoration. Because they are generally made of treated wood from old wooden pallets many landscapers recommend using a natural mulch product instead. The dyes are considered safe, but the wood used in colored mulch may have had chemical treatments in a past life.
What About Other Mulches?
Other mulches do exist but are outside the scope of this post. Some people use shredded leaves, newspaper, or rubber products. All of these different options have their uses, but for this article we are discussing the most common products used by professional landscape.
How Much Does Mulch Cost?
Mulch product pricing varies widely. As a general rule pine straw mulch is sold by the bale and wood mulches are sold by the cubic yard or perhaps by cubic feet (such as the mulch bags at common home supply stores). For a free estimate from Lawnshavers for any type of mulch installation, you can request a fast, easy quote on our mulch services page.
Bales of Pine Straw
Depending on the type of pine straw mulch used, location, the distance for delivery, and the quality of distributor, expect to pay $2.50 to $8.00 per bale. There is a wide range of straw mulches and you’ll want to make sure you’re comparing apples to apples with any mulch quote. Sometimes the distributor will quote an installation fee per bale and sometimes they may be quoting just the bale. Delivery fees must also be accounted for and may or may not be included in the per bale yard pricing.
Lawnshavers offers pine straw service priced by the total coverage sq/ft. You can learn why we do that, and why this helps homeowners avoid scams by reading about our Cumming GA pine straw service.
Hardwood, Pine Nugget, & Dyed Mulches
As of the time of this writing, a rule of thumb wholesale estimate for a cubic yard of typical hardwood or dyed mulch is about $30. One cubic yard of pine nuggets will cover approximately 150 square feet to a depth of 2 inches. The per cubic yard likely does not include the delivery fee.
Rule of thumb retail pricing is $30-35 per cubic yard in our area.
Cypress is a premium mulch and you can expect to pay several dollars more per cubic yard than other common mulches. Coverage area is the same per cubic yard.
Pricing can vary by distributor and availability. Some wholesalers may also have a minimum order quantity that is not appropriate for your needs. Delivery fees and installation fees may also vary and are subject to change.
Depending on where you live delivery may be available from the distributor or pick up may be required to keep costs low. If mulch is being delivered in bulk, Lawnshavers recommends dumping bulk mulch on the street (if safe) or driveway. Dyed mulches temporarily discolver concretes surfaces so a tarp is recommend. If you are dumping bulk mulch on grass, a tarp is mandatory. Mulch can be delivered to landscape beds by wheelbarrow. Avoid leaving mulch or tarps on your grass for any length of time to prevent lawn decay.
How Much Do You Need?
Calculating how much product you need is easy. If it’s an initial application, you’ll want to install at least 3” deep. If it’s just for color, 1” is probably plenty depending on how much mulch is already there. Here are your formulas.
Step 1: Determine the Sq/Ft area you need to cover.
Step 2: Determine how many inches of mulch you want to apply across your coverage area, but keep in mind that 3” deep total mulch coverage is considered the standard for a landscape bed.
1 cubic yard of mulch will cover approximately 100 sq/ft about 3” deep, 175 sq/ft 2” deep, and 300 sq/ft about 1” in deep.
Or if you’re lazy, you can google any number of mulch calculator websites.
Tools Needed For Installation
· Garden Weasel
· Gas Powered Bed Redefiner
How To Prepare Your Mulch Beds For Fresh Mulch
For proper plant health, it’s important to maintain your flowerbeds for proper function. A good bed will act as barrier to weeds, help retain soil moisture, supply organic nutrients back into the soil, and help your landscaping looking it’s best.
A common mistake homeowners make is they simply add new mulch on top of old year after year. This is ok in the short run, maybe 2 or 3 years. After 2 or 3 years most mulches become compacted. Once compacted, the mulch loses the ability to regulate proper amounts of moisture, encourages root growth in the mulch instead of in the soil, and prevents fresh water and nutrients from being absorbed by the soil below.
If you have more than 2 or 3 years worth of old mulch, Lawnshavers recommends removing the old mulch prior to installation of fresh mulch to maintain the vitality of your landscaping.
In the Cumming, GA area Bermuda is the most common turf. We based the steps of this process on managing Bermuda grass landscapes but you can follow the same steps for other grass types.
Preparation Step 1: Edging Your Beds
Because bed edging can be messing and will bring dirt into your existing beds, we recommend starting with this step.
Using a hand spade or a gas powered bed redefiner (such as the Echo BRD-280) you will create a new, clean bed edge.
Why do we do this?
A clean bed edge makes maintaining the bed edge easer. Bermuda grass is highly invasive and requires weekly attention to keep from spreading into your flowerbeds. Even then, you’ll find it will still find a way. By establishing a well defined bed edge, you help yourself by making weekly maintenance easier and creating a clean “wall” to prevent mulch from washing into your grass.
Bed edges should be 2” to 3” deep. Also, even a hand spade can do damage to utility lines. Call 811 and have your utilities marked before digging into your landscape.
Step 2: Use Your Garden Weasel
You probably played with grandma’s garden weasel as a kid. It’s a small device on a stick with spiked rollers that churns up the surface of the dirt. When the old mulch is compacted it retains too much moisture, prevents nutrient absorption, and can cause damage to your shrubs and flowers. Use your garden weasel to break up the old mulch. What you want is loose, uncompacted beds for your flowers and shrubs.
Step 3: Bring In The Mulch
Now that your bed is prepped, it’s time to bring in the mulch. There are a few ways to do this. If it’s bulk, we recommend dumping it on a tarp that protects your lawn, driveway, or street. Mulch dumped directly on your grass is a huge no-no. Trust us. Don’t do it. You’ll never get it out of your lawn. Use a pitchfork to fill wheelbarrows from your bulk pile and move the mulch around the yard.
If it’s a small area, you can just purchased bagged product in 2 or 3 cubic ft sizes and place the bags near the area you want to cover.
Step 4: Spread It
If you’ve never spread mulch before, you’ll be tempted to use a shovel. Don’t. You’ll save yourself a world of trouble if you use a pitchfork. It’s the right tool for the job.
You’ll want to keep an average depth of 3” of mulch (total) but taper that height as you get near the base of your shrubs or trees. Leave 3” to 5” around trunks of shrubs free of any mulch. Work your way around your beds with your mulch.
There’s no additional science to it. Just hard work.
Avoid The Dreaded Mulch Volcano
Do not create “mulch volcanoes.” What is a mulch volcano, you ask? Well, a volcano what happens when you place a large pile of mulch around your trees. It looks like the shape of a volcano. Volcanos cause your trees to create roots in the mulch instead of the soil and can rot the trunks of trees. The end result is an unhealthy tree that is likely to fail at some point.
How To Hire Lawnshavers To Handle Your Fresh Mulch Installation
Visit our lawn service homepage. Click “Request A Quote.” Fill out your information in the form provided and we’ll schedule an appointment to measure your lawn.
Once you approve the work, go to work on the day it’s scheduled and come home to a brand fresh new landscape.