mulch how to use

Mulch How To Use + [the Best Ways To Use And Maintain It]

When making plans to improve your landscape, you may think of using mulch. But then, mulch how to use? This could be a confusing situation, but not after reading this article. So, mulch how to use? 

Firstly, prepare the garden and spread the mulch. You use mulch to help control weeds and prevent water evaporation, thus maintaining soil moisture. Additionally, mulching helps to improve soil fertility and enhance the aesthetic look of your garden.  

Read on to find out when you should put mulch on your garden and if you can just put it over the weeds. Additionally, you’ll learn the areas you can use mulch and when you shouldn’t use it. 

Moreover, in the article, I provide a detailed guideline on the proper way to put down mulch.  

Mulch How To Use

Follow the following steps to know how to use mulch

  1. Pull Out Weeds

Using a spade, dig out existing weeds in the garden. Ensure you get to dig deep enough to uproot the weeds’ roots, or else they may re-grow. You can use a chemical weed killer to clear the weeds as an alternative. Wear safety gear and read the manufacturer’s directions carefully. 

  1. Create An Edge

Create a continuous line around the area you want to mulch. It acts as a boundary and helps to keep the mulch from spreading onto the nearby surfaces. Additionally, you can line up stones to create the edge. 

  1. Remove Or Replenish Existing Mulch 

Remove any existing mulch from your garden and place the old mulch into a pile and let it decompose to compost. 

If, however, you’re adding the same mulch, top dress the existing mulch after leveling it with a rake.   

  1. Shovel Small Piles Of Mulch Onto Your Garden

Use a wheelbarrow to transport your mulch and shovel a small pile onto your garden. Dumping the mulch in one heap may leave that area having excessive mulch, which suffocates the plants’ roots. 

  1. Spread Evenly The Mulch

Using a rake, spread the small mulch piles on your garden evenly. Between any plants or trees, leave a clearance of 1 inch. 

  1. Water Your Garden Bed

Water your newly mulched garden to give the mulch moisture and help it settle. Remember not to over-water the mulch or create a pool that might be detrimental to the plants. 

  1. Replace Your Mulch

Over time, organic mulch decomposes. Therefore, you need to replenish the mulch around the same time yearly. 

However, inorganic mulch lasts longer and doesn’t decompose. Replenish it to make it look fresh. You can also hose down your stone or gravel mulch with water to clean it.

When Should I Use Mulch?

It would be best if you used mulch on your garden when you want to:

  • Protect your plants from the sun and winter.
  • Save time spent on weeding as mulch helps control weeds.
  • Improve soil fertility. It especially applies to organic mulch, which breaks down over time, adding nutrients to the soil. However, the process may be fast or slow, depending on the type of mulch you choose to use.
  • Improve the aesthetic look of your landscape.
  • Keep the soil cool because mulch helps maintain soil temperatures, promoting healthy plant development.
  • Encourage microorganisms and earthworms to make your garden their home helping in soil aeration when they move.
  • Preserve water and soil since mulch helps to prevent both runoff and erosion. 

When Should I Add Mulch To My Garden?

Mid to late spring is the ideal time to add mulch to your garden. At this time, the soil has had a chance to warm up from the cold temperatures experienced during winter. When you mulch too early, it slows down the warming process necessary for the soil. 

Rains during spring may aid in disintegrating all non-organic materials, which may be residing in your mulch. Hence, your soil won’t suffer any infiltration. 

Besides, mulching during this time, keeps your garden clean. During summer, your farm also looks clean.  

Seedlings can penetrate through a thin layer of mulch, whereas a deep layer is impossible to work through. Allow your plants to start well. Moreover, you can add more mulch after the seedlings have grown. 

Additionally, you might need to add more mulch during the summer to help retain the soil moisture. 

During winter, an extra layer of mulch helps insulate your plants from freezing temperatures. Mulching during the fall helps protect your soil and plants during the winter. It’ll slow the freezing process, and lessen the many freeze-thaw cycles experienced in winter. 

Nonetheless, you plan your mulching for a time when the ground is moist and soft. Choose a day after a particularly rainy time.

You may as well seal the wetness effectively depending upon the mulch you’re using. 

Pull the layer of winter mulch gradually as the temperatures grow warm. Besides, the new tender new growth may be affected by a sudden late-season cold spell if you remove it all at once. 

Can I Just Put Mulch Over Weeds?

You can put a layer of mulch over weeds. Nonetheless, it’s not an effective way of removing pre-existing weeds. 

Weeds deprive your plants of nutrients and water. Also, weeds peering through the mulch can be unsightly.

The weeds require warm and light soil to thrive. Weeds need sunlight to germinate. You can avoid weed growth or regrowth by limiting sunlight.

Ensure the mulch is laid out 2 to 3 inches deep to block out sunlight completely. It’s effective for fine-textured mulches, such as sawdust and compost. 

Nevertheless, a deeper layer is required if you use coarser mulches such as wood nuggets and bark. Coarse materials have more gaps between them and therefore bring in the sunshine. Usually, 4 to 6 inches are sufficient for such materials.

 A pre-mulching technique such as applying herbicide to the area is recommended. You may also kill weeds through solarization before laying down the mulch. 

Another technique you can use to control weed growth is sheet mulching. Sheet mulching kills weeds and inhibits the growth of new weeds. It also enriches soil nutrients. It involves adding a sheet layer on the ground. You can spread wet newspapers on the ground before adding a layer of your desired mulch. You can use 10 sheets per layer for optimum benefits. 

Post-mulching, regular maintenance helps to spot any sprouting weeds. You can hand-pull such weeds whenever possible. 

There are also commercial herbicides available to kill off weeds. If you prefer organic methods of killing weeds, there are various DIY methods to choose from using substances such as alcohol, dishwashing liquid, or vinegar. Ensure you wear gloves and masks when handling chemicals.

When mulching your garden, you must be careful not to inhibit the growth of your plants. Just like weeds, plants need sunlight and nutrients. When spraying weed killers, ensure it’s suitable for use on landscaping and plants. 

Leave a space between the base of the plants and the mulch to give them room to breathe. A layer that’s too thick can cut out essential oxygen and suffocate the plants.

Where Do You Put Mulch?

You can put mulch around your perennials and flowering annuals so that they can flourish during the growing season. Mulch is also ideal for roses, which need plenty of water to look supple. The mulch helps the soil retain moisture for the roses to thrive. 

For bulbs and tubers, only a thin layer of mulch is required. Neatly laid mulch on flower beds keeps them attractive. Mulching a vegetable garden is recommended to keep away weeds that lead to poor yield.

You can put mulch around trees and shrubs to help them grow healthily. In addition to gardens, you can put mulch on pathways and yards to enhance their outlook. A well-mulched pathway effortlessly accentuates the beauty of your landscape.

What Is The Proper Way To Put Mulch?

Below is a guideline of the proper way to put mulch:

  • Choose The Best Mulch

You choose the mulch you want to use depending on what you want to use it for. Select organic mulch, which is biodegradable to add nutrients to your garden. 

Organic mulch includes chopped leaves, straw, wood chips, grass, and compost. When it decomposes, it adds nutrients to the soil. Additionally, it helps prevent weeds, protect plant roots, and water retention. 

Go for inorganic mulch if you aim to improve the aesthetic look of your landscape. It comes in various styles and colors you may use to decorate your yard. It includes rubber, gravel, river rock, and stones.

Buy enough mulch to cover the selected area. To determine how much mulch you need, use an online calculator.

It’s important to note that excessive mulch suffocates roots, thus killing the plant. 

  • Decide When To Mulch

It’s best to install organic mulch during early summer to obtain the best results. Usually, at the end of spring and the beginning of summer, the soil has warmed up, and the seedlings have sprouted. 

You can apply both inorganic and organic mulch in late fall for winter mulching. It’s done at a depth of 2-4 inches. 

Apply organic much such as compost or manure to newly planted flowers, shrubs, and trees. It adds crucial nutrients to the soil and protects new plants from weeds. 

Most importantly, if you’re planning to use wood organic mulch, it competes for nitrogen with the new plants. Therefore, till nitrogen amendments into the soil before.

  • Lay Down The Mulch

The final stage is laying down the mulch. First, clear your landscape and remove all debris and weeds. Apply a pre-emergent herbicide to prevent weed seeds from growing. Water the garden, which also helps activate the herbicide. 

Maintain a 2 to 4 inches depth when spreading mulch. To help it settle, water it sufficiently.


Can You Mulch On Top Of Leaves?

Mulching on top of leaves is an organically safe option. However, a thick layer of leaves may block the sun and increase the risk of diseases during wet weather. 

Why Should You Not Use Mulch?

Despite its numerous advantages, there are times when you shouldn’t use mulch. If you have pets, be cautious and ensure that the mulch is not harmful. Cocoa bean mulch is, for example, toxic to dogs and cats.

Can You Use Rocks As Mulch?

Avoid using rocks as mulch. Rocks add no benefits to the soil. Rocks absorb and retain heat very quickly and raise the soil’s temperature. Plants growing in gardens with rock mulch end up looking thirsty and stressed. Rocks may also alter soil’s pH and make it too acidic, unfavorable for some plants.


Mulch how to use – it’s vital to have facts right before starting to use it. Know and understand how to use mulch for the best results. You can put mulch in various spaces within your landscape, including flower beds, vegetable gardens, trees, and shrubs. 

Ensure you keenly follow all the steps and guidelines to avoid shoddy mulching. Poor mulchíng can not only look untidy but may force you to do frequent maintenance. 

It’s recommended that you mulch your garden during spring when the soil temperatures are just right for your plants. 

Mulching is an effective way to keep away weeds from your garden and improve soil quality. Nonetheless, ensure that you remove all the pre-existing weeds beforehand for a neat final look.

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