The Importance of Mulch

Mulching is one of the most important ways to maintain a healthy landscape. Mulch is any material applied to the soil surface for protection. It can be organic (shredded bark and wood chips, leaves, grass clippings and compost) or inorganic (pebbles, stones, gravel, landscape fabric). The best mulch is organic because as it breaks down it enriches the soil. Perennial ground covers like Mondo grass, Liriope, Ivy can also be considered mulch as they cover and protect the soil.

Mulch has many beneficial effects on plants and soil. When applied correctly, it reduces the growth of weeds, avoids crusting of soil, maintains a consistent soil moisture and temperature (keeping soil cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter), prevents loss of water from the soil by evaporation, and prevents soil splashing (which not only stops erosion, but keeps soil-borne diseases from splashing up onto the plants). Organic mulch improves soil structure (as the mulch decays it adds nutrients to the soil) and promotes better root development and healthy plants. A not to be overlooked benefit of mulch is that it’s attractive and gives and landscape a finished look.

Apply mulch around plants after planting to conserve water and get them off to a good start. The best time to apply mulch to existing beds is in the fall. A fall application keeps the soil warmer and allow roots to continue to grow strong before the cold weather arrives.

The recommended application is 2-3” (3-4” if your budget allows) of mulch replenished yearly. If using an organic mulch, it’s not necessary to remove the existing mulch; simply spread it on top. Avoid spreading mulch up to the trunks of trees or woody plants to prevent decay and rodent or insect damage. Protect trees from mower and herbicide damage by creating a 2’ diameter circle for each inch of trunk diameter around trees. Low water plants (usually those with gray leaves) benefit from a mulch of pea gravel to avoid stem rot and to reflect sunlight into the plant. Before putting down the pea gravel, install a barrier of landscape fabric so that the pea gravel will stay on top of the soil.

Mulch can be purchased in individual bags, but if you have a large lot consider purchasing mulch in bulk as a budget saving option. Most delivery trucks hold up to nine cubic yards and you’ll be surprised at how much you’ll need.

To avoid under or over buying, this is the formula:

Length x Width x Height (Inches Deep)


If you have a planting bed 10’ x 20’ and want to spread 2” of mulch, the calculation would be 10 x 20 x .167 = 33.4 cubic feet. Divided by 9 = 3.71 cubic yards.

If you have a planting bed 10’ x 20’ and want to spread 3” of mulch, the calculation would be 10 x 20 x .25 = 50 cubic feet. Divided by 9 = 5.55 cubic yards.

Most mulch comes in 2 cubic foot bags. A bed measuring 10’ x 20’ with 2” of mulch would require 17 bags. A bed measuring 10’ x 20’ bed with 3” of mulch would require 25 bags.

Plano Pure is a local and reputable source of mulch, compost and other soil amendments.

For pricing and delivery fees, their website is

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