Mulching: What You Need to Know

photo by maddy baker on unsplash

Mulch: you probably don’t think much of it beyond the visual appeal. However, mulch is vital to the long-term health of your property’s plant beds. Skimp on mulching, and you could face poor plant health, higher water costs, and weed issues. Add too much and you risk foundation issues, termites, and even killing off your seasonal plants.

Today we’re chatting with Shaun Callaway, landscaping expert and Vice President of our Houston Market. Shaun has a Bachelor of Landscaping Architecture from Texas A&M and has been working with our team since 2011. His expertise has helped Earthworks perfect our mulching strategies to ensure our clients get beautiful beds that extend the life and vibrancy of their plants.

In this interview, Shaun shares the basic information property managers need to know when planning for seasonal mulching.

What are the benefits of mulching?

The top benefit is moisture retention. Mulch keeps moisture at the base of the plant. This means properties can water less often, which is vital in Texas heat.

The other benefit is that it creates a barrier that acts as secondary weed control. Mulch is meant to form together to create a firm layer. When you disturb that barrier, it’s easier for weed seeds to get into the soil. Some properties ask if we can turn their mulch to make beds look fresher. We generally advise our clients not to turn mulch in order to preserve that secondary weed barrier.

Last, fresh mulch just looks good! It has great visual appeal and helps your beds look nice and clean.

When is the best time to mulch?

We usually start in early spring, which can be anywhere from late February to mid-March in Texas. We try to get mulch on the ground before trees bloom and we start adding color changes.

Keep in mind that ideal timing is just that – ideal. Texas weather is unpredictable. If it’s a cooler spring (like this year), we may spread out that work a little longer.

Is all mulch created equal?

In short, no. There’s more involved in the mulch making process than just chipping it and applying it. You need to know where your mulch comes from so you can be sure it’s well processed, and that it’s been treated to ensure there are no weed seeds in it.

We use a more native mulch from a local supplier. It’s a little bit more natural looking and it’s doesn’t have big chunks. We find this type of mulch lasts longer and works better in beds.

What’s the process for applying fresh mulch?

When possible, we’ll remove old mulch before applying the new one. If a client is requesting a color change, we’ll swap out the mulch in conjunction with those new plantings.

We don’t skimp on new mulch! We apply at least a couple inches to ensure it will pack in nicely and protect plantings. Conversely, we try not to build it up too high near foundations, because it can cause possible insect and water intrusion, especially if it covers the weep holes of the building.

How can a property make the most of mulch?

We recommend a full application in early spring, followed by a touch up in the fall. We don’t normally mulch color change areas outside of spring unless absolutely needed. Instead we recommend a top dressing application around high profile areas in the fall to help keep things looking fresh through winter. With the right application strategy, these two sessions should keep your beds looking fresh year round.

As you can see, there’s more to mulch than meets the eye! Your Earthworks representative can help you understand how to make the most of mulch applications for your property. If you have questions, or if you’d like a complimentary assessment, reach out to us today for assistance.


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