Property Owners Must Not Make Common Mistakes with Mulch

Property Owners Must Not Make Common Mistakes with Mulch

When the weather starts to cool down and fall approaches, there is less mowing to do. Now is the time to think about mulching around trees, shrubs, and plants to make sure they are ready for colder temperatures. While throwing some pine straw or wood chips on the beds may seem like a simple solution, if a homeowner were to get it wrong, the mulch may cause serious harm to the plants and trees. Getting to know the common mistakes related to mulching is the best way to avoid them. Keep reading to learn what these mistakes are.

Using the Wrong Mulch

There are many types of mulch. It is possible to find organic mulches, such as pine straw, wood chips, and wood bark, and there are inorganic mulches, such as rubber, stone, and rock. Stone and rock absorb heat, which is fine for the winter months, but it can cause heat stress for plants during dry, hot weather. Rubber is great for putting under a child’s playset, but it may leach chemicals into the soil under it, which can be toxic to plants. It is best to use inorganic mulch for playgrounds, walkways, and other locations away from plants and trees. 

Not Using Enough Mulch

Skimping to save time or money will cancel out or reduce the benefits offered by mulch. The ideal amount is about three inches of mulch. If this is done correctly, the mulch will help retain moisture while regulating the soil’s temperature and protecting the plants through the cold winter months. It can also help with factors like drainage, fertility, soil aeration, and even more importantly, weed control.

Using Excessive Mulch

If more than three inches of mulch is used, it can choke the plant roots and block the needed water and air from getting to the soil. What is even worse is that mulch that is too thick can create an appealing habitat for insects and rodents to live. No one wants to deal with that. Excess mulch might even spill over onto the lawn and end up killing the grass. If this happens and you need replacement sod, be sure to contact NG Turf for farm-fresh sod delivered to your door.

Volcano Mulching

If too much mulch is layered on the base of trees and plants, it will do much more harm than good. Even with larger, mature trees, the effect can be devastating and possibly kill the tree due to rotting the bark and exposing it to insects and disease. Smaller plants and trees are also susceptible to rot, so it is best to keep the mulch about two or three inches from the tree’s and plant’s base to give them plenty of breathing room.

Uncomposted Mulch

If mulch is purchased from a home store or nursery, it is likely to be mulch that has been composted. What this means is that the mulch has been dried through the aging process. When new wood chips start to break down, they will take nitrogen out of the soil, and this nitrogen is essential for plants to grow and thrive. Fresh wood chips from a municipality are a great option for saving money, but make sure to compost the chips first. This means letting the wood chips sit in a pile for a few months or up to a year. Turn them with a shovel frequently before using the chips as mulch.

Layering the Mulch

Layering mulch on garden beds year after year can cause the older material to begin compacting and choke the plants and soil. Also, as time passes, it can be hard to tell the amount of mulch on the ground. It is necessary to rake through the existing mulch at least once a year to determine how deep the existing mulch is. This is also going to break the compacted mulch and let air and water through. Raking through the mulch will save a person both effort and money. If there are already a few inches of mulch on the ground, it is only necessary to add one more inch.

The Right Mulch Matters

Using the right mulch and the right amount of mulch matters. With the tips above, a homeowner can feel confident they will give their plants the best opportunity to thrive. Remember, if the proper mulch is not used, it can have serious and lasting consequences on the lawn and garden. Not only can it damage any plants, but if the garden is next to the lawn, damage to the grass may occur. If that happens, visit for information on how to repair the sod damage.

If a homeowner is unsure how to handle the mulching process on their own, they should contact a landscape professional. For questions about sod varieties contact the NG Turf certified turf professionals at In the long run, this is going to pay off and ensure the desired results are achieved. It will also help ensure plants and sod have the best chance to grow and thrive.

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State: Georgia
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