Lawnshavers offers mulch service throughout Cumming, GA and surrounding Forsyth County.

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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

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 Nuggets

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 Disclaimer

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

Tools Needed:

·         Shovel

·         Wheelbarrow

·         Garden Weasel

·         Spade

·         Gas Powered Bed Redefiner

·         Rake

·         Pitchfork


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.

Lawnshavers offers Bermuda, Fescue, and Zoysia aeration service throughout Cumming, GA and surrounding Forsyth County.

Request An Aeration Quote

What is Lawn Aeration?

Cumming GA AerationThe dictionary lists aeration as “exposing the action or effect of air, or causing air to circulate through.” That is exactly what aeration is for your lawn – exposing the action or effect of air on your soil. Lots of products and substances might be aerated for various purposes. Wine, grain, and fish tanks all benefit from the process of moving air through them.

For our purpose we will be discussing aerating your lawn or turf, and to provide a more practical definition, we will be discussing the process of creating holes in your soil that provide an assortment of benefits to your lawn.

Why Aerate Your Lawn?

When your soil becomes compacted (compressed), water and nutrients do not travel through the soil as well. It can prevent adequate root growth and nutrient uptake in your plants. In addition, thatch, which is a collection of organic debris that gathers between your green grass growth and the soil, becomes unhealthy if it is deeper than ½ to ¾ inch.

Regardless of your grass type, the process of aeration provides specific benefits for turf health by relieving the effects of compacted soil. It stimulates the decomposition of thatch material.  Water and air, and thus nutrients, will travel better through the soil, and in turn your lawn will grow more vigorously.

How Do You Know When Aeration Is Needed?

Determining an aeration schedule depends on the type of grass you have. For our purposes we will discuss aeration for the three main grasses Lawnshavers manages in the area which are Bermudagrass, Zoysiagrass, and Fescue.

As a general rule, aeration is appropriate when your soil becomes impacted or when thatch becomes to thick. The frequence of aeration would depend on the use of turf.  You aerate a ball field more frequently than a lawn that is rarely walked on.

When To Aerate Bermudagrass & Zosiagrass

At minimum, aerate a seldom traveled Bermudagrass lawn at least once every three years. On a heavily compacted Bermudagrass turf, aeration more than once a year would be reasonable. For most lawns that receive recurring lawn service with commercial mowers, we recommend one aeration per year. This recommendation applies for both Bermudagrass and Zoysiagrass. The timing of aeration for both grasses is also the same –  you would want to aerate when the grass is growing fast, usually early summer.

When to Aerate A Fescue Lawn

Aeration for fescue follows the opposite schedule than Bermuda or Zoysiagrass. For fescue, your best months to aerate are generally March, April, and September-November. Avoid aeration when temperatures are likely to fall below freezing and June through August.

Types of Aerators

Spike Aerators

As a general rule, you’ll find two main categories of aerator – spike aerators and a plug aerators. A spike aerator is pretty much any device designed to poke holes in your lawn. You might have seen “aeration shoes” on a late night infomercial with spikes on them. Usually, the commercial advises you to wear them while mowing. These are a typical example of a spike aerator. The idea behind spike aeration, while good in theory, is less than ideal. Spike aerators may actually cause more compaction in the soil than they alleviate.

Plug Aerators

With a plug aerator, instead of putting a spike into the ground, a plug of dirt (usually 2” to 3” and about .5” diameter) is pulled from the soil and deposited on top of your lawn. The opening created by pulling this plug allows the compacted soil to break apart and loosen throughout the lawn. It also helps expedite the break down of thatch from the surface of the soil.

Plug aerators are the type of aerator any professional landscaper or lawn care company will use. Tow behind units can be purchased for a few hundred dollars, but a professional would use a powered aerator. New powered aerators generally cost between $3,000 to $10,000 per unit.

How To Aerate Your Lawn

Before aerating our lawn, make sure it’s moist. Not wet, obviously, but attempting to aerate a dry, compacted lawn will not be effective.

Call your 811 locator service to mark public utilities. If you have a sprinkler system you’ll need to mark sprinkler heads and any known lines yourself. These water lines are not a public utility. Unfortunately, you may not know where your actual sprinkler lines are. Note: An aerator can cause damage to improperly buried irrigation lines. In most cases, they are probably deep enough but a reputable lawn care company will expect you to bear the cost of such damage. A lawn service provider cannot know if they were installed deeply enough or not.

Assuming you have a powered aerator, which you can rent from stores like Home Depot, you’ll make passes in various directions across your lawn. You will likely make multiple passes over the same areas to insure adequate plug removal.

After aeration, allow the plugs to dry out. Once dry, you can break the plugs by mowing over them or using any common hand tools.

How To Hire Someone To Aerate For You

Many lawn maintenance companies and fertilization companies will offer aeration services. If you’d like an aeration quote from Lawnshavers, send us a quote request from our homepage.

Why Choose Pine Straw Mulch For Your Landscaping Design

In Cumming, pine straw is a popular choice for landscape design. There are multiple reasons it makes a great mulch for this area:

1)      Pine straw is a more cost effective option than other mulches

2)      Pine straw is a natural, renewable, and sustainable mulch product

3)      Pine straw benefits your soil in multiple ways including insulating plant roots, conserving moisture/preventing dry out, and preventing erosion.

4)      Pine straw breaks down slowly and requires less frequent application to keep it looking good

5)      Pine straw does not change the pH of soil

6)      Pine straw does not require the destruction of trees

7)      Pine straw does not wash out of your landscape bed like other mulches

8)      Pine straw is low maintenance

9)      Pine straw prevents weeds

10)   Pine straw is visually appealing in the south as pine trees are common throughout our landscape

Overall, pine straw is by far the most cost effective, best bang for your buck mulch product in the Cumming, GA area, but there are different types of straw and each has it’s own pros and cons.

Types of Pine Straw You’ll Find In Cumming, GA

In general there are three types of straw you might consider in the Cumming area. They are Longleaf (or Long Needle), Slash, and Loblolly. Sometimes you’ll also see these mentioned by their scientific names, which are Pinus Palustris, Pinus Elliottii, and Pinus Taeda.

Longleaf  (Long Needle)

Longleaf is the premium pine straw everyone likes to have in their landscaping. The needles are longer, richly colored, thicker, and waxier than other types. Because of these traits, longleaf is durable and keeps a better look for a longer period of time than other straws. Lawnshavers uses longleaf pine straw exclusively for it’s superior benefits to other straws.


Considered slash to be your “standard” pine straw. Big box home improvement stores usually carry slash. It tends to be a clean, affordable pine straw, but lacks the impressive color of long needle. We have found our customers generally do not prefer slash pine straw when compared to long needle pine straw’s more polished appearance.


Loblolly pine straw consists of the shortest needles of the three most common types of straws. It tends to be the least expensive pine straw and spreads easily, but does not have the longevity of other straws. Many landscapers do not use loblolly pine straw given the desire for more premium straws as the price difference, while less, is not very significant.

How To Purchase Pine Straw In Cumming, GA

There are generally three ways to purchase pine straw in our area:

1.       You can pick up pine straw at a local supply store. In addition to big box stores, such as Home Depot and Lowe’s, you should consider local landscaping supply stores. You will find most professional landscapers prefer local supply stores for their fresh, quality product. Obviously, with this option, you will be expected to have the do the installation yourself.

2.       You can have a company deliver your new straw to your house but not install it. Some local supply companies will deliver straw product to your house for a product and delivery fee.

3.       You can have a company, such as Lawnshavers, deliver and install your new straw upon arrival. For the time involved, this is usually the most cost-effective option.

We’ll go into the installation process in a few moments, but this is a good time to let you know that installing pinestraw yourself can be long, hamstring-taxing work if you don’t do it very often. An experienced worker might install up to 15-20 bales an hour. Our experience with training suggest that an inexperienced person will struggle to complete 10-11 bales an hour until they learn proper technique and build the leg and back stamina needed to complete longer work. This does not include the time needed for clean up and tucking.

A Few Notes About Pine Straw Bales and Pricing

Many homeowners don’t realize that pine bales come in different sizes and densities. This leads to some common misconceptions about pine straw bales and pricing. It also allows for some scams you should be aware of.

The main thing to know is that these variations mean that even if you pay the same price per bale, you may need a different number of bales to cover your particular landscaping depending on the supplier.

The first challenge you’ll run into is that pine straw is generally sold in a bale. A supplier may ask you, “How many bales do you need?” Well, if the bales come in different sizes, you can’t possibly know how many bales you need for your particular coverage area. If you’re installing straw yourself, this means you could easily buy too many bales than you need, or have to go back for more.

Lawnshavers has solved this problem for you. Because we delivery and install pine straw directly, we actually don’t price our pine straw by the bale. Instead, have a flat rate price we charge per sq/ft of coverage need.

Instead of guessing, we measure your coverage area. Over time, we’ve tracked the average number of how bales we need to cover specific areas. We then give you a flat price for coverage rather than an inaccurate guesstimate of bales needed. If we’re short a few bales because the bales are two small, you don’t pay any extra, and if we ended up with more straw than we need because the bales are too big, you don’t pay extra for bales you didn’t need either.  We cover the costs either way.

A Common Scam

Our method of pricing also protects you from a very common pine straw installation scam. A quick google search will give you more information if you want, but here’s the idea:

Basically an installer will look at your property and tell you need, say, 100 bales, and they charge $6.50 per bale installed. Then while you’re at work, they come by and install pinestraw throughout your landscaping, but they only used 70 bales.

Because they “sold” you 100 bales, you will be billed $650 for the work. And because you were gone to work, you won’t know how many bales were actually used, and they won’t tell you that you should have only paid $455 based on their original quote. Basically, they sold you 70 bales for $9.29/each.

They simply pocket the difference and you’re none the wiser… at least until you hire a more reputable company to do it in the future.

Because this scam is rampant within the industry, we simplified the process for all involved. Our pricing is based on the sq/ft of coverage area and the sq/ft pricing changes depending on the size of the job.

Proper Pine Straw Distribution

Pine straw distribution in your landscape is fairly straight forward. We generally recommend a straw mat of about 4 inches when finally settled.

If you have old straw that’s lost it’s color, this may mean removing some of your old straw before installing new straw, or simply applying a thin layer across the old straw for color. In generally, a typical application will be 4 to 6 “fluffy” inches, which will flatten after a rain shower or two.

If there is no existing bed of straw, a bed of 6 to 8 inches would be recommended and perhaps a second application after the initial application has settled to insure adequate depth for weed prevention and moisture control.

Pine straw should be kept slightly away from the base of shrubs in your landscape beds. 2 to 4 inches is plenty.

How To Install Pine Straw

Lawnshavers will happily install pine straw for you, but if you choose to do it yourself, let us offer a few suggestions to make your life easier.

First, you will find yourself bending over frequently. If you have lower back issues, you should take care not to over do it.

Depending on your existing pine straw thickness, you may want to spread your new straw thinner or thicker. This means that each bale may cover an area anywhere from 30-100 sq/ft. For most applications, we would expect a bale to cover 30-60 sq/ft.

Start by placing bales in convenient locations around the landscape at spaces of approximately every 50 sq/ft.

Each bale will likely be tied with two quick release knots. A good pull of the loose end, should release the knot and pine straw. If not, keep a knife handy to quickly cut the twine. Or you could simply do it like the pros and yank the straw right out of the twine without releasing the knot or cutting it.

Once released, you’ll notice the pine straw will come apart in smaller clumps.  Pick up a clump.

Now, pull that clump apart to loosen it and shake it forcefully. You’ll see now the clump now comes apart and the pine straw falls loose and fluffy to the bed below.

This is the general idea of how you should apply all the pine straw throughout your yard. You may find this method slow at first. Learn to violently shake out each clump directly to make it faster and easier.

Continue this process until your spread straw throughout the needed coverage area. Be sure to pick out any unsightly sticks, pinecones, or other debris. You will also find you may have to manually place some straw under shrubs and around flowers.

Once complete, the final step of the process is called tucking. As you distribute the straw, you should leave several inches outside of the bed and in the grass. This is so that you can “tuck” this extra straw back up under the edge of the bed to create that classic “cloud” look quality landscapes are known for.

Tucking with a leaf blower will yield the best results, but it can be done by hand if needed. Carefully direct the air stream of the leaf blower toward the excess straw you want to tuck and allow it to roll under the bed. You will quickly get the hang of it.

Lastly, clean up any debris, twine, or other mess from your grass or walkways, step back, and enjoy a completed job well done.

Fun Facts About Pine Straw

The  Industry

Whether in a natural forest of trees or a planted pine stands, pine needles are generally raked and baled before being sold as landscaping mulch throughout the southeastern United States. In plantations with evenly spaced trees, it’s common for bales to be compiled by powered balers.

According to a UGA article, as of 2012, pine straw cultivation in Georgia is a more than $80 million dollar industry, which was a more than five-fold increase in revenue 2000 when the cultivation of pine straw was about a $15.5 million dollar industry.


How Does Lawnshavers’ Dog Waste Pick Up & Removal Service Work?

Note: To request a quote for dog waste removal, visit our homepage.

There are a lot of reasons why it’s not good to leave dog poop to decompose in your yard. It attracts all sorts of problems – disease, bugs, and smells – to name a few. But most people just wanted it cleaned up because “Seriously who wants to live with or clean up the poop all around their house?” Nobody wants to do it. Except us!! (ahem, not that we love poop, but we are a lawn care business after all).

We got tired of stepping in poop while mowing lawns and we realized it was a service that just made sense. So here’s how we do it:

  1. We visit your property each week
  2. We pick up the poop
  3. We dispose of the poop
  4. You have a clean yard
  5. Yes, it really is that easy.

The Dog Poop Pick Up Pattern

In all seriousness, there is a method to our madness. For example, we actually have a specific way we walk your property to ensure we actually scoop all of the poop. You’ll notice we walk in a grid pattern across your yard and then we’ll walk the entire yard again going in the perpendicular direction to make sure we didn’t miss any. Plus, we also learn your dog’s habits and will be able to identify “problem areas” that your dog likes to frequent.

Dog Poop Disposal

Once we’ve picked up your poop, we don’t leave it on your property. We bag your poop, but we don’t leave it at your house. Instead, we take it with us and make sure it’s disposed of properly. That way, you don’t have to deal with a stink trash can either.

There are a few other perks to this service too! If your dog is eating weird stuff, we’ll be able to tell you. If they’ve been sick, we’ll probably see that too (sometimes that requires a little rain to help us out on the clean up), and if your dog is getting into mischief around the yard, we might see it before you do. We’re pretty confident you’d want to know about that hole Fido is digging under the fence behind the rose bushes.

Simple, No Contract Billing

And then to make it even easier for you, we offer it as a super simple, no contract, pay as you go service for as little as $15 (prices vary depending on size of yard and number of dogs).

Try It For Yourself

How cool would it be for someone else to clean up your dog poop for you? Why not sign up for a week and see how you like it. Request a quote on our homepage.