How Much Mulch Do I Need

May 15, 2021
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Mulch is an essential part of any successful landscaping project. When considering how much mulch you will need to get started, it is important to know what purpose mulch serves and how to utilize it to its fullest potential. 

Mulch projects

Mulch is a good base to make landscaping plants and flowers pop.  When you think of a picture-perfect garden, as on a magazine cover, the mulch cover may not be the piece of the puzzle that catches the eye. And yet mulch is the part that makes each and every flower pop and creates a cohesive aesthetic for the whole landscape to flow. It creates a uniform look as opposed to exposed soil. The white picket fence and full blooms that everyone pines after is only complete with a layer of fresh black mulch. 

It is important to remember, however, that in order for our plants to thrive, they must be planted into a layer of fresh topsoil. The topsoil could be compost or compost mixed with native soil already in your yard. The addition of topsoil helps balance the pH levels of the planting soil and encourages a rich ecosystem or web of native organisms that help regulate systems such as water regulation, nitrogen fixation, nutrient retention, and other important processes that create healthy soil for your plants to thrive. The mix of topsoil and compost, therefore, helps plants grow stronger and faster. 

Mulch not only covers this soil for aesthetic purposes, it also has some unexpected utilitarian values that help keep a garden in picture-perfect shape. prevents erosion by keeping top soil in its place. It also releases nutrients and good chemicals over time, maintaining and releasing these nutrients for longer than even compost does. This may come as a surprise to some, as mulch is usually seen as a cover of nutrient-rich soil, rather than a nutrient-provider itself. As a cover, mulch also moderates temperature variation, keeping plants in a more balanced equilibrium than bare soil alone. Mulch also helps seal in moisture, preventing the water in top soil from evaporating, and therefore maximizing top soil’s plant nourishing capacities. 

So How Much Mulch Do I Need? 

For an average project, people lay a layer of topsoil somewhere between one to four inches deep. The range accounts for a number of considerations, including airflow, water drainage, and plant choice. 

To start, one important consideration for mulch thickness is airflow and plant needs. Any more than about 3 inches of mulch will start to deprive the plants and soil of necessary chemicals from the air. Thicker mulch is beneficial for landscaping areas you want to keep free of plants and weeds. When considering thickness it is also important to be aware of which plants you will be nurturing in your yard. A delicate plant, like a rose bush, will need more airflow, and therefore less mulch, than what is needed around the base of a tree. 

Similar to the airflow is the water requirements and the water retention of an area. Areas that hold more water, such as flood-prone yards or bases of a hill, will require less mulch. Just as mulch seals in beneficial moisture, it also creates challenges when water drainage is needed. 

Once all of this is considered, the actual mulch calculations are quite straight-forward. You will need to measure the covered area in feet, rather than yards, for further precision, and then multiply that area by the depth of mulch you desire. You will then divide that number by 324 to get the total in yards (since mulch is sold in increments of cubic yards), and then liberall round up to avoid having to make multiple purchases. 

Now you have all of the knowledge you need to lay down a beautiful and useful layer of fresh mulch. Make the call today!