How To Properly Install Mulch In Your Lawn & Garden

Throwing a layer of mulch down around your plants may seem like a relatively simple task, but doing it wrong can lead to increased insects, mice, mold, and weeds.

Done improperly, it can even suffocate your plants or prevent enough water from reaching them.

So what do you need to know about mulching properly?

Here are 6 tips for adding mulch that will keep your garden beautiful and healthy for years to come.

Don’t add landscape fabric or plastic under mulch

Mulch is intended to decompose and add nutrients to your soil. Putting landscape fabric under mulch will not only prevent those nutrients from reaching your plants, but the decomposing mulch can actually provide the perfect place for weeds to take up residence. Putting mulch directly on top of the soil helps discourage weeds and helps the soil retain moisture.

Prepare the ground first

Before laying down your mulch, you’ll want to pull weeds and rake the soil to smooth it. You’ll want to lay your mulch in mid to late spring.

Putting it down too early will actually cause the ground to take longer to thaw. If you have a lot of seedlings, you may want to start with a thinner layer of mulch until they have grown a little bit, then add more mulch in the summer.

Too thick a layer of mulch can prevent seedlings from sprouting.


Don’t use too much

A fine mulch only needs 1-2 inches of coverage, while a larger mulch only needs 3-4 inches. Too much mulch will prevent water from reaching your plants and will be more likely to harbor pests.

It can also suffocate your plants. You’ll also want to keep mulch at least a couple of inches away from trees and other woody-stemmed plants.

Mulch too close to the roots will cause them to grow too close to the ground, and mulch too close to the trunk is likely to provide a nice home and easy lunch for pests like mice or slugs.

If you have an area with no plants where you are using mulch to prevent weeds from growing, you can use as much as you’d like.

Add mulch each spring and as needed

Since mulch is intended to decompose and help fertilize your plants, you generally don’t need to remove old mulch. However, you will want to add new mulch each spring to maintain a layer of mulch that’s 2-3 inches deep.

If your mulch decomposes slowly, you may only need to add mulch every other year.

Conversely, you may need to add a little bit of mulch in the summer to help retain moisture and a little more in the winter to insulate your plants from the cold.

A local professional may have tips on what is commonly needed in your area.

Avoid cheap mulch and wood chips

Cheap mulch only looks like dirt and does little to nothing to improve the appearance of your yard.


Colored mulches, even enhanced browns, will maintain their vibrancy without fading and will decay slower, meaning your yard looks better with less work.

Wood chips certainly have their purpose, but in some cases they may actually prevent water from getting down to your plants instead of retaining moisture, which is the point of adding mulch in the first place.

Buy Mulch by the Bag For Small Areas Only

Unless you only have a very small area that needs mulch, it’s much more cost effective to buy in bulk from a local landscape supply store. It can event be delivered to you, and you can use a wheelbarrow and a scoop shovel to move it wherever you need it.

Shop For Mulch Online

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Whatever your mulch and landscaping needs, Big Earth Supply is here to help! Did you know that we have an extension selection of mulch that is sold both by the bag or even by the pallet? You can even shop online at our landscaping supply online store, here.

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