We're gearing up for March Mulch Madness!
I've had people ask, "Why should I put mulch down?" There are a lot of reasons to take the time to add a nice mulch layer on your landscape beds. We believe that mulch is one of the most important elements of any Florida landscape. Sounds dramatic, right? But it's absolutely essential when it's 1000 degrees outside and you step out and feel your skin baking. The right mulch makes all the difference.
Mulch is excellent for preventing water loss. Here in florida as the temperatures rise, it's recommended that you water early in the morning because as soon as that sun comes up, things start cooking - literally. Giving a good watering a few times of week is what the plant needs but it is essentially useless if the water doesn't stay where it needs to - around the roots of the plants.
The heat of the day makes everything get got, including soil. Roots don't do well in higher temperatures, so the other thing that mulch does is helps to buffer soil temperatures. This keeps the weeds nice and cool, just how they like it. Mulch also will break down and feed the soil with organic nutrients it needs to be rich and healthy for your plants. We don't recommend removing existing mulch to lay new mulch unless you're going in a completely different direction with the style/color of the mulch.
The final thing that mulch is amazing for is suppressing weeds. Most professionals recommend a nice thick bed of mulch - about 3 inches deep. This way any weed seeds that are down in the soil never have a chance to see the light of day. Of course, this is Florida and during rainy season weeds appear literally overnight; but if you applied pre-emergent weed prevention product to your beds like we recommended in our last post, it will slow the weeds down considerably! No one wants to spend their summer weekends outside pulling weeds out of the garden. A better use of our weekend is relaxing with a chilly beverage in hand somewhere in close proximity to water!
It's important to get that mulch down before the baking temperatures return, and they'll be here anytime now! How much mulch do you need? That's the next question we always are asked.
We have a super handy mulch calculator (and it's free!) here: https://www.landscapecalculator.com/calculators/mulch. Measure out (estimating is fine for this) about how long and how wide your areas are that need mulch. It's better to have too much than too little. Multiply the width of the bed by the length of the bed and you have your square footage. If you have multiple beds do this for each one and add the amounts together. Next look and see about how much mulch you have currently. Keep in mind that mulch will compress down over time so we typically try to put down about 3.5" - 4" depending on the type of the mulch. The bulkier the mulch, the less it compresses down.
To reiterate, we don't recommend you remove the existing mulch. It's feeding the soil and breaking down and sharing its nutrients with your landscaping. We do recommend that you grab a rake and fluff it up a bit before adding your new product. You will get a better finished product if you take the time to do this.
So...now that you agree you need to keep your mulch fresh, and have measured to figure out how much you need - what kind of mulch will you use? If you already have mulch, it's best to match up what you have.
With a variety of options available, however, it can be difficult to choose. Here’s a breakdown of the most popular types for Central Florida, and why you may want to consider one over another.
4 TOP MULCH OPTIONS FOR SOUTH FLORIDA
1. Pine bark. Shredded pine bark interlocks to avoid washing away and is ideal for gardens on a slope. Plus, it decomposes into the soil to enrich your garden’s health over time, and it is least likely to change color. This is the longest lasting mulch and usually only needs to be freshened up once every 12-18 months.
2. Pine straw. Pine needles hold in place well and are relatively slow to break down, making them ideal for slopes. Pine straw is great for use with acid-loving plants such as azaleas, conifers and blueberries. If you have a pine tree in your yard, it also tends to be the most economic choice! Instead of fighting the pine needles littering the grass, put them to good use. Gather them up and spread them around bushes, trees, and other landscaped areas.
3. Cypress. Shredded cypress mulch allows water to easily soak into roots but resists washing away from heavy rains. Cypress offers nutritional benefits to plants as it decomposes and retains color well.
4. Dyed mulch. Dyed mulches are one of the most popular and least expensive mulching options. Be aware that the color may fade, and dye from mulch can leach into plants’ roots. For organic vegetable gardens, stick with mulches that do not contain dye. Cocoa Brown, Black Mulch, and Red mulch are some examples of this type of mulch.
Mulch is available at home improvement big box stores such as Home Depot and also available at Landscape suppliers like Big Earth Landscape Supply. It comes in both bags and in bulk. It can be an easy weekend project for any DIY'er. Usually the Home Depots offer a holiday weekend sale around this time of year with rock-bottom prices on mulch.
Don't have time? We can do it for you! For the month of March we are offering 10% any mulch project. Join us for Mulch Madness this March and call or email to request your mulch service today! https://forms.gle/g6dreqxuAKc1NrEn6 is our handy mulch request form!