When your landscaping begins to age, it can detract from the overall look of your home. So what can you do to breathe new life into tired old landscaping?
Apply Fresh Mulch
One of the simplest things you can do is to apply fresh mulch. Mulch is sold in a variety of colors in bags that contain two cubic feet of mulch or enough to place a three-inch layer over an eight-square-foot area. At $3 to $6 a bag, mulch is easily one of the most affordable components of your landscaping. Use this handy calculator to estimate how much you’ll need to complete the job. The addition of fresh mulch will not only improve the look of your landscaping, it will also offer a host of other benefits.
Aside from being affordable and easy to apply, mulch is a key component for weed control around flower beds and trees. You may only think of weeds as an eye sore, but did you know that they are an additional and unnecessary expense? Weeds contribute to additional fertilizer costs because they deplete the soil of nutrients. Not only that, but you may need to water more often or for longer periods of time because weeds are using water intended for flowers, shrubs or trees.
Add Temperature and Moisture
Mulch, on the other hand, helps to retain moisture in the soil by slowing evaporation. It becomes a beneficial barrier between your soil and the elements that cause evaporation like the sun and wind. That barrier will also help to moderate soil temperature, making sudden temperature changes more tolerable for your plants’ root systems. The benefits don’t stop with temperature and moisture control, as a layer of mulch can also lessen other problems that occur with bare soil, such as the erosion and compaction caused by wind and water. Limiting erosion prevents nutrient loss, which makes your fertilizing efforts more effective. Preventing compaction allows water and air to permeate the soil more easily.
Consider Organic Mulch
Those with poor soil will benefit by choosing an organic mulch that improves soil structure as it decays. Reducing compaction along with decaying organic material will create an environment that encourages earthworms to inhabit your soil. Earthworms aerate the soil creating pathways for air and water, and their castings are the perfect fertilizer for your flower beds. When applying mulch, make sure you’re choosing the right type of mulch for your desired effect. Keep in mind that some organic mulch may deplete nitrogen in the soil as it decays, which in turn requires additional nitrogen within your fertilizing regimen. Wood chips and bark are prime examples and they can take two seasons or longer to decay. Other types of mulch such as pine needles are acidic and will reduce soil pH.
Leave a Bit of Wiggle Room
Finally, when applying mulch make sure to give your plants and structures a little bit of room. Piling mulch high around the bases of trees or plant stems can promote rot or encourage parasites that feed on plants. Contact with your foundation can provide a path for pests like termites, inviting them into your home. Some mulches such as Cedar or Cypress are known to repel pests like termites, cockroaches and carpet beetles. The tradeoff is that they are also resistant to decay so they take much longer to contribute nutrients and structure to your soil.
The benefits and aesthetics of mulch will make it your “go-to” to add new life to your landscaping. Just be sure to make your choice an informed one. Research online or consult your garden center expert before you buy. They’ll be able to help you analyze your situation, show you how to test your soil and give you pointers on the specifics for your intended use. Don’t forget to consider regulations if you’re a member of an HOA as well. Some communities may require that you adhere to a specific color or variety of mulch for your home’s exterior.
Do you have a favorite type of mulch to make your flower beds pop? Let us know in the comments!