Using Mulch In Your Yard

Using Mulch In Your Yard

Mulch - A Versatile Yard Tool in GG

Great time to mulch in Governors Grant yard is now with our beautiful weather. Mulch

performs many jobs in your yard. In addition to being an attractive addition to your yard, mulch:

o Prevents water loss from soil

o Reduces the growth of weeds

o Helps maintain even soil temperatures

o Helps with erosion of soil

o Helps prevent soil compaction

o Provides a barrier around tree trunks and shrubs

to prevent damage from lawn equipment

There are two categories of mulch available, organic and inorganic. Organic mulches include

materials such as pine straw, bark, and wood chips. The advantage of organic mulch is that it

decomposes and add nutrients back to the soil. A disadvantage is that organic mulch needs to

be replaced every 2-4 years, depending on what material is used, because it decomposes.

Inorganic mulches include gravel, pebbles, and landscape fabric. These types of mulch do not

need to be replaced as often as they do not decompose, but they do not add nutrients to the


In order to prevent weed growth, you need to apply a 2 – 3 inch layer of mulch material to the

area. It is best to remove weeds from the area before you apply the mulch. For established

plants, the recommended time to apply new mulch is early spring. For new plantings, the best

time to apply mulch is when you plant the plants. But mulch can be applied any time of year

that you have the time to do it.

Do not allow the mulch to touch the stems of plants or the trunks of trees. For bushes, keep the

mulch 2 - 3 inches away from the woody stems to prevent decay. With trees, you want to keep

the several inches away from the trunk of the tree as well. Do NOT heap mulch up on the trunk

of the tree as this will damage the tree and is also referred to as “volcanic mulching”. It is also

important to keep mulch 6 to 12 inches away from the walls of buildings to prevent decay from

wet mulch, termite activity near your house, and rodent damage during the winter.

Mulch entire beds where plants are for best the results. Trees benefit most from a wide circle

of mulch. Newly planted trees need a circle of mulch 3 to 4 feet in diameter to help conserve

water and maintain soil temperatures. Established trees in yards need 2 feet of mulch diameter

for each inch of tree trunk diameter. So, a tree that has a 4-inch diameter trunk will need an 8

foot diameter of mulch around the tree. Again, resist the urge to mound the mulch up on the

tree trunk as this will damage the tree.

If you have more questions about using mulch in your yard, go to

Kristine McCorquodale

Governors Grant Neighbor & Lexington County Master Gardener Volunteer