Now I would imagine that all of us know what mulch is.  Sure it’s woodchips for the most part.  The real question becomes do we know what the true benefits of mulch can be and what it can add to our landscape aesthetically.   Mulch has several purposes that many of us may not realize.

One of the primary benefits of mulching a planting bed is moisture retention.  A 2 to 3 inch layer of mulch can do a great deal towards retaining soil moisture which in turn can reduce water needs of plantings.  In the heat of summer plants can dry up quickly so adding high quality mulch to planting beds and tree rings is hardly a bad idea.  Keep in mind though; mulch should not be placed against the trunks of trees.  When mulch depths exceed three inches some may need to be removed prior to reapplying.

Mulch can go a long way towards suppressing weeds.  Mulch can assist in impede weed seed germination and translocation.  Seed to soil contact is important for weed seeds to germinate so adding a layer of mulch can assist in keeping weeds seeds from accomplishing this goal.  It is much easier to control weeds in a mulched planting bed with nonselective herbicides while avoiding turf.

Another benefit of mulch is helping to keep soil temperatures more consistent.  Plants of different varieties can be finicky when it comes to their roots being exposed to extreme temperatures.  Keeping roots cool in summer can go a long ways towards plant survivability as well as helping create a jump start in spring by retaining heat.

Mulch when applied properly, can assist in the control of erosion.  Banks and hillsides that are devoid of plant material erode readily under heavy rains.  In many cases a proper layer of mulch can inhibit this.  Mulch in combination with plantings and a good drainage solution can create an ideal solution where the ground may not be so flat.

Last but not least mulch can definitely add to the aesthetics of a landscape.  Bare planting beds that lack definition aren’t quite so attractive.  Clean edges and mulch can add a lot to the shape, form and flow of a landscape.  The mulch variety used can also add some great contrast to the colors of your annuals, perennials and flowering shrubs.  Green is great but breaking up the pattern with some Premium Pine mulch never hurts.

We can definitely say that mulch certainly goes miles towards enhancing a landscape.  Just remember that in order to gain the benefits listed above, mulch should be maintained at a minimum of 2 inches depth.  Mulching once a year at minimum is what’s needed to retain some color.  Regardless of the type or product used any mulch will bleed color or fade within 6 months of initial application , to keep color crisp use a high quality product at least twice a year.  So start getting your mulch plan in order, winter isn’t a bad time to get your mulch needs squared away.