One way to keep your property looking good is to have a well-maintained yard. For those with a green thumb, it appears easy to do. Some of us, on the other hand, struggle to keep anything green and healthy.
One secret to a successful yard is using mulch. It contains many nutrients that will fertilize the soil as it breaks down. But how much of it do you need?
Mulch is not for fertilizing alone. You can also use organic materials on the soil to prevent it from eroding. It also acts as a weed barrier for your yard, choking out weeds before sunlight has given them a chance to take hold.
Let’s take a closer look at how mulch works to determine if it would be better to buy the stuff by the bag or buy it in bulk by the yard.
What Is Mulch and What Does It Do?
Mulch is a layer of organic or synthetic material that sits over the ground. Homeowners, gardeners, and farmers are just a few of the people who use mulch. Through the years, people have used mulch for a variety of reasons, including:
- Fertilizing soil
- Retaining moisture
- Limiting weeds
Mulch improves soil quality
Adding mulch to your garden or yard can improve the quality of the soil. Mixing organic materials into the dirt prevents it from becoming too compact. It allows moisture, nutrients, and microbes to move easier when it is less dense.
The mulch itself will break down over time. That process increases the nutrients the soil holds, making it a healthier growing medium.
A mulch layer keeps the ground covered and prevents as much water to air contact as bare soil will. That will help to prevent evaporation.
The material will also act as a shield from the sun, preventing the soil from heating as much. Cooler ground temperatures allow the substrate to remain moist.
Acting as a weed barrier
Natural or synthetic mulch covers your soil, offering less room for weeds to germinate. Seeds that struggle to enter the soil or seedlings that fight to sprout from it will not grow.
Many organic mulches are non-toxic, and synthetic ground cover will not pollute the soil. These can be factors for health-minded homeowners to consider, especially in their fruit and vegetable gardens.
Mulch can add beauty to a barren landscape. Many homeowners will use a variety of organic and synthetic materials in combination to alter the color and textures of an existing lawn.
Mulch not only increases your enjoyment of your yard, but it can also add value to the property.
How Much Mulch Is Needed?
Most caretakers and landscapers suggest a minimum depth of two-inches of mulch covering for your soil. That depth retains moisture and helps to choke out weeds.
Maximum depths will depend upon the materials that you use. A fine mulch will compact easily, so it should be no deeper than three inches. Coarse materials that are larger can go up to four inches deep.
Applying a thick layer of mulch can move water before it has a chance to enter the soil. It can also prevent roots from getting the nutrients they need to thrive.
Commercial mulches often have a recommended depth listed by the manufacturer, or if you are unsure, you can ask a staff member at your local garden center.
Once you know the depth you need to apply it, you can calculate the quantity you need. Determine the square feet of the area you are mulching (width x length). Multiply that by the depth to find the cubic feet of mulch needed.
Is It Cheaper To Buy Mulch By The Bag Or By The Yard?
The answer depends upon the size of the area you are mulching, the type of materials used, and potential delivery fees.
Mulching small gardens or around decorative shrubs or trees may require only a few cubic feet. You will usually find mulch is available in two cubic foot bags. For projects requiring 10-cubic feet or less, bagged mulch is often more affordable.
Bags can get expensive once your target area requires ten bags of mulch or more. That is when you should compare the cost of bagged mulch and mulch by the yard.
Another consideration will be the materials used. Some organic or synthetic mulch is only available locally by the bag. Some ground cover is only sold in bulk by the yard, leaving you to purchase the desired mulch however you can find it.
A final note worth considering is delivery fees. You might find a great deal of mulch by the yard, or you may require large quantities for your landscaping project.
While some companies will offer discounts or free delivery once a set volume is purchased, you will often be stuck paying a delivery fee on top of the price paid for the materials. That fee can wipe out any savings you calculated for buying in bulk.
One way to avoid those fees is to haul the mulch yourself. Most sellers will load yards of mulch onto your vehicle or trailer for free.