Organic bark mulch, rocks, and stones are very popular in Central Florida landscapes and gardens. Simple mistakes can prevent you from reaping the benefits of mulch, such as suppressing weeds, conserving moisture, decreased water runoff, and reducing erosion.

Mulch not only helps create healthy landscapes and gardens, but it also enhances the beauty. Susan D. Day, an associate professor in the Department of Forest Resources & Conservation and Department of Horticulture at Virginia Tech says, “You want to design your landscapes so your shrubs cover all of the soil and you have complete vegetative cover. Then apply mulch to them, to control moisture.”

HGTV warns against ignoring bare soil 

Researchers are finding mulching has significant environmental benefits. Having bare soil on your property will cause erosion and sediment runoff, Day says. Mulching can help control erosion. Research by Day and Virginia Tech graduate student David Mitchell found that bare soil lost about five times as much sediment as soils covered with mulch.

It is important not to use too much or too little mulch. Experts recommend using 3 inches of mulch. This allows you to reap the benefits mulch has to offer. Organic mulch breaks down over time and adds vital nutrients into the soil.

Mulch around a tree, especially younger trees, can protect the trunk. But Day warns, “There’s no benefit in having a pile of mulch next to a tree truck. You want to taper it down.”

HGTV warns about using bad mulch 

The biggest pitfall is getting your mulch from an unreliable source, Day says. For example, mulch could be delivered with noxious weed seeds in it because it was stockpiled next to a field of weeds. “You could be paying for that for a long time,” she says.

There are many different types of mulch on the market today it can be difficult to decide which kind to use and where to purchase it from.  Make sure it is fresh and free from chemicals.   Feel free to stop by Reliable Peat’s Ocoee or Winter Garden locations, and check out several different types of mulch before you choose.  Our skilled staff will walk you through and can help you decide based on your needs.