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Mulching Mistakes to Avoid

Landscape features vary significantly from house to house in Greencastle, PA. Some homeowners may prefer water features on their properties, while others focus on flowers that would be the envy of a botanical garden. Regardless of those preferences, lawn and garden enthusiasts who want to make their properties as idyllic as possible may eventually look to mulch to help them accomplish that goal.

Mulch helps soil retain moisture, which promotes strong, healthy flowers, plants, trees, and shrubs. And because soil beneath mulch retains more moisture than soil that’s not protected by mulch, homeowners won’t have to spend as much time watering mulched landscapes. That saves time and conserves water, which can be a big benefit in areas prone to drought and/or especially hot summers. Mulch also helps to suppress weed growth, which can ensure all that hard work needed to create an eye-catching garden won’t be compromised by the presence of unsightly, thirsty weeds.

Mulching seems like a simple task, and it can be. But that does not mean homeowners cannot make mistakes when mulching. The following are some common mulching mistakes to avoid as lawn and garden season hits full swing.

Not enough mulch

Mulch is ineffective when spread too thin. The Virginia Cooperative Extension at Virginia Tech and Virginia State University recommends applying mulch no less than two inches in depth. Anything less than that will prove ineffective at preventing weed growth and helping the soil retain moisture, and that means you will need to water more often.

Poorly located mulch

Mulch should not be placed too close to plant stems or tree trunks. When it is, tissue is so wet that it makes for a perfect environment for disease and insect infestation.

Failing to mulch to the drip line

The drip line of a tree refers to the outermost circumference of the tree’s canopy from which water drips onto the ground. The VCE recommends mulching to the drip line of a plant or tree, which ensures the plant or tree will get the most out of the mulch. Mulching to the drip line also minimizes competition from the grass, leading to stronger plants and trees.

Failing to weed before mulching

Weeds should be removed prior to mulching. If they’re not, the mulch can provide the same growing environment for weeds that you’re trying to create for your plants and trees.

Mulching benefits a landscape in myriad ways, especially when homeowners avoid some common mulching mistakes. Need help? Contact the landscaping pros at Locust Ridge Landscape to tackle your next mulching project in Greencastle, PA.

The Differences Between Organic and Inorganic Mulches

The benefits of mulch are widely known among lawn and garden enthusiasts. By insulating soil from extreme temperatures, helping soil to retain moisture and preventing weed growth, mulch can help plants, trees and gardens thrive, even during periods when Mother Nature can make that very difficult.

Novice gardeners may find themselves a little confused when visiting a lawn and garden center to purchase mulch. That’s because there are various types of mulches. One of the ways to simplify that is to break mulches down into two main classes: organic and inorganic. Learning to distinguish between these two classes can help homeowners in Chambersburg and Shippensburg, PA choose the best mulch for their properties.

Organic Mulch

Organic mulches are made up of materials that decompose over time. The experts at BobVila.com note that, because they decompose over time, organic mulches must be replenished on a regular bais. Hardwood and softwood chips are among the most popular and recognizable organic mulches. Evergreen needles, leaves, grass clippings, and compost mixes also fall under the organic mulch umbrella. Many gardening enthusiasts prefer organic mulches because they help soil retain moisture, improve soil fertility and help to deter weed growth.

Inorganic Mulches

Inorganic mulches are permanent because they do not decompose over time. Gravel, brick chips and crushed stone are examples of inorganic mulches. Homeowners who do not intend to plant after laying mulch may lean toward inorganic mulches, as they won’t require much work, if any, after being laid. However, the Chicago Botanic Garden notes that inorganic mulches do not improve soil quality. In fact, because inorganic mulches like rocks and stones absorb heat, they can be detrimental to plants in areas where weather tends to be very dry and hot.

The right mulch for a given property depends on a host of factors. Understanding the differences between organic and inorganic mulches is a great first step toward finding the right mulch for your landscape.

Locust Ridge Landscape, LLC can help determine the most suitable mulch for your landscape in Chambersburg and Shippensburg, PA. Contact us today!

How Mulched Leaves Help Your Lawn

Various chores are synonymous with certain times of year. For example, cleaning a pool is a summertime task. In addition, rare is the instance that Mother Nature forces anyone to break out the snow shovels outside of winter. Raking leaves has long been a task for fall afternoons, but homeowners may be surprised to learn that they might be better off putting their rakes in permanent mothballs.

In the 1990s, turfgrass specialists at Michigan State University began exploring the potential benefits of leaving mulched leaves on a lawn instead of raking them and leaving them for curbside pickup. While the researchers noticed an obvious leaf residue on the lawn after mulching, they noted that it only sticks around for a few days. Eventually, the tiny pieces sifted down into the lawn, ultimately serving to control future weed growth while also providing the lawn with essential nutrients. Over time, researchers noted that homeowners who mulched rather than raked their leaves needed less fertilizer to give their lawns a green look in spring, saving homeowners the effort and cost associated with fertilizing.

Researchers also noted that decomposing pieces of leaves cover up bare spots between turf plants, which have traditionally proven to be excellent spots for weed seeds to germinate. In fact, MSU notes that homeowners can expect a nearly 100 percent decrease in dandelions and crabgrass after mulching leaves for just three years.

Depending on the type of mower being used, up to six inches of leaves can be mulched at a time. Push mowers can handle smaller amounts, though can still be as effective as ride-on mowers.

Fall may be synonymous with raking leaves. However, homeowners who want to give their lawns a healthy boost should consider putting their rakes away and mulching their leaves this fall.

If you need help this upcoming fall with lawn clean up, contact the landscaping professionals at Locust Ridge Landscape, LLC. We offer landscaping to Chambersburg and Shippensburg, PA customers as well as Fayetteville and Carlisle residents. Contact us today for a free estimate!

The Basics of Mulching

Mulch is available in various forms. Like other land and garden products, mulch can go a long way toward helping plants thrive. Locust Ridge Landscape uses superior mulch that is much better for your soil and plants. Our mulch eventually rots down thus loosening up the soil so plants can better thrive.

Mulch comprises just about any material that is spread over the surface of soil. Its purpose is primarily to help soil retain moisture. In addition, mulch can staunch weed growth, keep soil cool, improve the aesthetics of garden beds, and even improve soil nutrient composition. When the right mulch is chosen, it can reduce the amount of time homeowners spend watering and weeding their gardens and insulate plants from dramatic changes in weather.

Gardeners may not realize that mulch also can prevent garden soil from becoming overly compacted, according to HGTV. This can mean beneficial earthworms can move easily through the soil, creating channels for water and depositing their nutrient-rich waste products.

Gardeners can choose organic or inorganic mulch. Organic mulches are derived from natural materials that will decompose over time, lending organic matter as well as various nutrients to the soil. Organic mulches also may contain beneficial microorganisms that can fight against plant diseases. Inorganic mulches may be made of stones, landscape fabrics and plastic. Both types will need to be amended or replaced as they degrade. Those who want the most environmentally-friendly mulching materials can choose all-natural mulches instead of synthetic alternatives.

To work effectively, mulch should be applied in a two- to three-inch layer of material, state the experts at Old World Garden Farms. This is the ideal amount to retain soil moisture and suppress weed growth without choking plants. Also, mulch that is too thick may make it impossible for water to penetrate, or it may prevent the soil from airing out, causing continuously wet conditions that lead to root and stem rot.

The University of Connecticut Home & Garden Education Center says mulch should not be placed directly against plant crowns or tree bases, as this can promote the development of disease. It may also serve as a habitat for bark- and stem-eating rodents. The center also suggests watering newly installed bark or wood mulches to prevent fungi from colonizing in dry mulch and causing problems like a water-repellent surface on the mulch.

Home landscapers considering mulch types may find that compost, manure and grass clippings (from nonpesticide-treated lawns) can be inexpensive and versatile in garden beds. The home advice site The Spruce notes that newspaper may also be effective. Many newspapers have switched over to organic dyes, especially for their black and white sections. Newspapers are an inexpensive way to suppress weeds and act like organic mulch in beds. They can be covered with other organic mulch, like shredded bark, for more visual appeal.

Mulch can be a versatile asset when doing gardening projects around home landscapes. And the benefits are more than just aesthetic.