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Mulch Your Way to Better Landscape Design (page 2 of 2)

Mulch your way to prettier, healthier plantings. Learn which type of mulch to use, when to use it and where to use it.

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Courtesy of Julie A. Martens

When to Mulch

Apply mulch year round in every climate. In the coldest regions, to protect overwintering plants, apply mulch after the ground freezes. To insulate soil against summer heat, apply mulch in late spring after soil warms.

Organic mulches break down through the growing season — faster in warmer regions. Typically, you’ll have to re-apply organic mulch annually. Check mulch thickness occasionally; replenish as needed.

Shopping for Mulch

You’ll find the best mulch bargains when you buy in bulk, but that means you’ll need a pickup truck. Bagged mulches can be easier to transport and may be the best deal for small front yard beds or modest backyard planting areas. Most stores give discounts for broken bags; ask at the register.

Good organic mulch should have an earthy, damp odor. If you smell ammonia, vinegar, alcohol or sulfur, don’t buy that mulch. It could actually harm plants.

Find the Right Mulch

The perfect mulch:

  • doesn't compact
  • decomposes relatively slowly
  • is water- and air-permeable
  • is fire-resistant

Every mulch type offers distinct advantages. How can you choose the one that’s right for your gardening situation? Learn more about different mulches in our Landscape Mulch Gallery.

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