Mulch is the icing on the cake to any new landscape design, controlling weeds and offering a multitude of benefits to your garden flowers and plants. But before we put down mulch in your property, there are some tasks that need to be completed. Below are 10 steps to prepare your landscape and flower beds for mulch.

1. Kill weeds in your landscape

Before adding mulch and embarking on your garden landscaping ideas, it’s important to eliminate all unwanted plants and weed growth. Pulling up and removing unwanted plants is a simple and efficient natural weed killer. Another method for how to kill weeds is to spray them with an herbicide one to two weeks prior to mulching. This will allow the weeds to completely die. (Dead weeds are easier to pull up.)

2. Trim trees and bushes in your yard

It is best to trim nearby trees and bushes before mulching because of the debris they create.

3. Clean out your garden beds

Use a rake to remove dead leaves, weeds and trimmings. An adjustable rake is generally best for this task.

4. Cultivate your landscaping beds

After your beds have been cleaned, cultivate any compacted soil or mulch. A rototiller or hand cultivator will do the job. Cultivating will allow moisture and air to pass through the soil more easily.

5. Edge landscape beds before adding garden mulch

Creating a clean edge really enhances your landscape and gives it a professional look. An edging shovel or power edger can be used to create your edge. Try using a garden hose as a guide to create flowing curves.

6. Before you mulch your landscape, rake the area smooth

Using a stiff rake, such as a mud rake, smooth out all the surfaces to be mulched. Otherwise, your mulched flower beds or mulched areas around trees will look lumpy.

7. Apply a pre-emergent to prevent weeds

Apply a pre-emergent, such as Preen, to prevent germination of weed seeds. A second application, after the mulch has been installed, can add protection from weed seeds that may germinate into the mulch.

8. It’s time to mulch your landscape and flower beds

Using your hands or a rake, apply new mulch over the existing cultivated mulch or soil. Indiana Mulch & Stone suggests a layer of mulch 2 inches (but no more than 3) thick. When mulching around trees and woody, stemmed plants, keep the mulch away from the base.

When you’re finished mulching, water to moisturize mulch and help it settle into place.

9. Mulch maintenance

Once a month or so, check your mulch for compaction. If compacted, use a garden claw, rake or cultivator to loosen (scratch) it. This will allow water and air to pass, which helps prevent the growth of fungus and restores its appearance.

10. Address fungus in garden mulch right away

If fungus is present, remove it and the surrounding mulch. Rake existing mulch to cover the area, and then water thoroughly. Fungus is a sure sign that your garden mulch is compacted and your beds have dehydrated. Cultivation and watering will be necessary.


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