Spring is the perfect time to begin mulching in Northern Virginia. But where to start? It seems like every year there’s a new type of mulch sitting at the home improvement store. From colored varieties to chips and shreds, it can all get very confusing. Each mulch has its benefits and its drawbacks, so it’s best to make an informed decision before you make the investment. Sunrise Landscape and Design’s spring clean-up services include the application of high quality mulch to prepare your landscape for the coming months.
Why is Mulch Important?
Mulch plays many roles in your landscape. Its most crucial features are the ability to hold in heat and moisture, which protects fragile roots from temperature fluctuations throughout the entire year. It also prevents the growth of weeds and helps to inhibit erosion. Without mulch, your garden is completely exposed to the elements – and that is not only bad for your plants, it’s also bad for your curb appeal.
Mulch Types and Details
- Shredded Hardwood
- The most common mulch you’ll find around Northern Virginia is shredded hardwood. It has a natural look and blends well into any landscape. It also works well on slopes.
- Shredded hardwood should be spread one to three inches thick and can last up to three years when the beds are refreshed annually.
- Colored mulch is a popular trend. Colored versions tend to decompose more slowly than normal mulch. Be careful of the actual color selected. Some colors clash with the natural landscape and are not appealing to most people.
- Wood Chip
- Wood chips are wonderful at retaining water, and because they break down faster than shredded mulch, they boost the amount of nutrients in your soil.
- Wood chip mulch can last up to four years. It is also weed-free and doesn’t blow away easily.
- When talking about stone, we are usually speaking about medium to large sizes. Smaller pebbles tend to end up in your lawn, creating a projectile hazard when you mow.
- Stone is great for trapping heat into established perennial beds and can essentially last forever. It is also good for controlling erosion in problem areas.
- The downside of stone is that because of its ability to trap heat, it also makes water evaporate quicker – which means you may need to water your plants more often.
- Pumice or Lava Rock
- With a vibrant color, many people like that pumice is lighter than regular stone and can retain a lot of water. It can also last forever.
- While it doesn’t hold as much heat as stone, it does help somewhat.
- Pumice is full of sharp edges, so make sure that it is only placed somewhere that doesn’t require frequent garden attention.
- Its weight can be a liability in areas prone to water run-off, so make sure that it’s in a flood-free area.
- Because of its ability to trap water, you will need to water a little longer for the water to reach your plants.
- Living Mulch
- Why not use a living mulch instead of a dead one? There are many ground covers that work well as mulch; just remember to add compost to them annually to nourish them.
There are other mulch options, like straw, compost, chopped leaves, and even grass clippings, but these are generally suitable for vegetable gardens and not curb-front landscapes. Just keep in mind that you shouldn’t incorporate any mulch into your soil unless it has been thoroughly composted. Importantly, don’t use any mulch that has been treated with herbicides or pesticides on your edible plants.
Mulch Application Tips
The easiest way to tell if you Northern Virginia landscaper knows what they are doing is by looking at how they apply your chosen mulch. You can also follow these mulch application tips when applying mulch yourself.
Mulch should be:
- Placed against edging that is two to three inches deep
- Clear of tree trunks or plants. Your mulch shouldn’t be touching your plants directly; this is unhealthy and can actually hurt them. Those “mulch volcanos” that you see around tree trunks are a perfect example of incorrect mulching.
- Smooth and even, with no large hills
- Distributed two to three inches deep and free of clumps
- Treated with a pre-emergent weed controller
- Applied after cutbacks, leaves, twigs, and debris have been cleared from the area
Contact a Professional for Help
If you’re not sure what kind of mulch to use or how to apply it, contact our Sunrise team today. Our Spring Clean-up services include removing all debris from mulch beds, edging and cultivating beds, applying pre-emergent weed control, and distributing a shredded hardwood bark mulch. We’ll prepare your Northern Virginia landscape to encourage plant growth and keep it looking beautiful throughout the coming seasons. We’d love to give you a landscape that you’re proud of this spring! Contact us today!