Mulch 101

Published on
April 19, 2021 10:33:00 AM PDT April 19, 2021 10:33:00 AM PDTth, April 19, 2021 10:33:00 AM PDT

Mulch is as important to your trees, plants, and shrubs as sunlight, fertilizer and water. Think of it as a security blanket covering and protecting the plants root system.

Things to Keep in Mind for Spring Planting

Keep Moisture Where it Belongs

A good layer of mulch will keep the moisture in the soil where it belongs! Keeping roots moist but not overly wet which can cause root rot and disease. When summer heat hits, a layer of mulch might be the difference between life and death for plants, especially new plantings.

Mulching Leaves Weeds in the Dark

Reduce the amount of sunlight from reaching weed seeds by covering areas with mulch. While you may still have an occasional weed pop up, mulching greatly reduces weeds.

Keep it a Steady Temperature

Mulch insulates the soil, creating the buffer between the heat of summer and the cold winter temperatures. Mulch helps to regulate soil temperature by warming sooner in the spring and keeping it cooler in the summer.

Know What You Need to Get the Look Your Want

Mulch can help create “that look.” Our color enhanced mulch is made from natural hardwoods and has the highest quality color, giving more vibrant colors longer. Choose from Brown, Red, Gold or Black all with environmentally safe colorant that ensures maximum UV protection.

How Long Will it Last?

Mulching is not just a one and done. You will need to add more mulch over the old layers and make sure to use a rake or garden fork to loosen the compacted layer underneath before adding more. Typically, mulch will last 2-3 years depending on the environment. If you want the fresh, new look of colored mulch you may need to add more each season.

How Deep Should it Be?

2-3 inches is generally the recommended depth for mulch around plants. All types of mulch will settle to half its initial depth after the fist season.

Tips for Your Next Mulch Purchase

Beware of cheap mulch from big box stores. Why? Many discounters promote mulch at what appears to be bargain prices. While these offers look great and may be hard to resist, there are several things you should know before purchasing.

Loose Labeling Laws 

Regulations regarding how mulch is labelled for content are very weak. Many suppliers and retailers take advantage of this to “fool customers” into believing that everything inside the bag is actually what it says on the outside.

For Example: A bag claiming to be “Cypress Mulch” may actually only have a small amount of actual Cypress wood in the bag, with the rest of the bag containing a combination of much less desirable woods. The bag only needs to have some product in it to be sold as Cypress mulch. These cheaper woods will break down quickly in the landscape, providing no real value at that point.

"Hardwood” Mulch Claims 

Many of these products will claim to be made from “Hardwoods”. In reality, most discount mulch products contain a majority of softer woods.

Less Actual Color in the Bag  

Another way suppliers and unwitting discount stores cut costs is by offering colored product with less wood colorant in the bag. Many products have as much as 25% less colorant in the bag compared to the better quality alternatives. Customers using this mulch will notice their color not lasting as long and needing to replace it more frequently. While it may still be brown or red, it will not be near as vibrant after a few months or even weeks.

Watch the Size

Like so many other items, the size of mulch bags being offered has started to get smaller recently. Most of the time the change is not noticeable at first, but when it comes time to use it, it will not go near as far. Be sure to check bag sizes before purchasing – we’re also starting to see this on bags of Topsoil now as well.

Our Recommendations

For the best value, we recommend Earl May Premium Colored Mulch.

Why use Earl May Premium Colored Mulch?

  • 20% more colorant
  • True to labeling claims
  • Locally produced to our high standard
  • Guaranteed to perform

We guarantee the product that goes into these bags! View different types of mulch offered by Earl May here.