While sports fans cheer on their favorite college basketball teams in March, landscapers and lawn care enthusiasts are gearing up for “Mulch Madness!” Now is the time to take advantage of the changing weather and tenable soil for stunning greenery and seasonal color this summer.
But, first things, first. You need to get your yard cleaned and ready to mulch. Maybe you’re a novice and aren’t sure where to start, or you’ve been at this for a while and may just need to go back to basics. Either way, The Grounds Guys of Gettysburg has five tips and tricks to kick start your mulching and spring clean-up efforts today.
Always Perform Spring Clean-Up Before Applying Mulch
Spring clean-up is vital to your yard’s longevity (and aesthetics). Keeping beds weed-free, debris-free, and pest-free will give your yard the best chance to thrive. Typically, spring clean-up involves the following tasks.
Mowing the Grass
Contrary to what you may have thought, grass doesn’t stop growing in winter; it simply becomes dormant and grows slower than in spring and summer. Toward the end of March into April is the time to get out that mower again and prepare your grass for warmer weather.
Clearing Away Leaves
Your lawn probably hasn’t seen a rake since last fall, and that’s okay. If you don’t have many trees on your property or any at all, there hasn’t been a need to clear away debris. We recommend preserving leaves so they can be composted later and help your lawn flourish.
After the first mow of the season, you’ll want to take the grass clippings, leaves, twigs, and any other organic material to compost. These ingredients are a great source of nitrogen, potassium, phosphorus, and insulation before warmer weather. Make sure to shred the debris so you can create piles and include organisms and microbes or a homemade compost accelerator to speed up the decomposition process.
By now, your edging needs a bit more definition since you likely haven’t edged in several months. You can control weeds and give your lawn and flower beds a tidier appearance. While an electric edger will get the job done faster, a shovel can be easily used to add definition to your flower and tree beds. Redefine your bed’s edge with a shovel, pushing at least 2 inches deep into the soil for a precise and crisp line.
Cleaning Garden and Flower Beds
Pull out your gardening gloves because it’s time to get dirty—literally. The best way to clean up garden and flower beds is to use your hands and remove weeds and other debris (which you can add to your compost piles).
Reseeding Damaged Grass
If you have dead or dry patches of grass in your yard, the easiest way to restore it is by reseeding. Reseeding isn’t a great option if you have large areas of damaged lawn. At that point, you may just want to reapply sod and start fresh. This may not be ideal for you, as sod can be expensive depending on the grass type, yard acreage, and the professional you trust with installation.
Trimming Trees and Shrubs
Trees and shrubs may have started to overgrow if all your attention has been on keeping your grass pristine. Your beautiful yard won’t be complete until you get trees and shrubs under control. Trim away low-hanging branches and keep shrubs and bushes pruned for visual appeal and plant health.
Trimming and pruning offer the following benefits:
- Minimizes branch damage
- Counterbalances root loss
- Gives better exposure to sunlight
- Allows better visibility of plant damage or disease
Lawn aeration is a must if you want thicker, greener grass for the spring. Compacted soil can damage lawns and keep water and crucial nutrients from reaching roots. Before re-seeding damaged grass, ensure you aerate to give your turf the best chance at growth.
5 Pro Mulching Tips & Tricks
Mistakes happen, but your lawn can suffer greatly when those mistakes involve mulching. Fortunately, we’ve got you covered with several mulching tips and tricks that we use to keep customers in Gettysburg happy with aesthetically pleasing and healthy lawns.
1. Avoid Mounding
Many inexperienced landscapers make the mistake of mounding mulch against trees or piling it up against the trunk. Because of the moist material, you may have bark rot, various diseases, and pest infestation. Give the tree trunk 1-2 inches of mulch clearance and spread mulch evenly along the tree bed 3-4 inches deep.
2. Consider Various Types of Mulch
While there are several types of mulch, they can be put into two distinct categories: inorganic and organic. The difference between the two is that organic mulch will break down over time because it’s made of natural material. Inorganic mulch is created from plastic sheeting or recycled paper and rubber chips and will not break down or absorb into the soil.
- Grass clippings – After cutting grass, keep clippings to create natural mulch that can significantly improve the soil if it’s low in organic matter.
- Tree bark – Tree bark mulch can help improve heavy clay soils and create better drainage to reduce soil erosion.
- Wood chips – Like tree bark, wood chips are simply made from tree branches and trunk pieces. It can help regulate soil temperature and retain moisture longer than other types of mulch.
- Recycled paper – According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Americans used an estimated 70 million tons of paper and paperboard in 2018, with landfills receiving 17.2 million tons. Recycled paper in tree and flower beds prevents moisture, is a great source of weed control without restricting water’s access to roots, and helps reduce municipal solid waste (MSW).
- Recycled rubber – In 2018, the rubber and leather recycling rate in MSW was 18.2%, according to the EPA. The appeal of recycled rubber is that it is low maintenance, doesn’t attract insects, and has zero porosity, so it won’t retain moisture and potentially cause mold or fungus.
3. Apply Mulch At Least Twice a Season
Mulching is best completed before the first frost and after the last frost to give your turf and plant seedlings the best chance of survival. Let us explain!
- After the last frost before spring (early spring) – Weeds start to rear their ugly heads as soon as the ground thaws in early spring. One way to keep them at bay is to mulch, which may also attract pests like earwigs and snails. Nevertheless, you’ll see a significant difference in the health of your lawn when you start mulching early.
- Before the first frost of winter – Mulching in the fall and winter can provide a warm insulation blanket to keep your new seedlings from freezing to death. We recommend adding 2-3 inches of mulch to cover your flower and tree beds. You can also avoid soil erosion in peak fall and winter weather.
The best way to estimate the ideal season to mulch in your state is to know your growing zone. You can double-check the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map to calculate when the first and last frost should occur in your area.
4. Use High-Quality Mulch
Just because organic mulch at your local home improvement store is more expensive doesn’t mean it’ll be better for your lawn. If you want to purchase your mulch instead of using natural materials from your yard, high-quality mulch will have an OMRI (Organic Materials Review Institute) Listed® designation. This means that the international non-profit organization decides which animal feed, plant protectant, etc., can be used in organic processing.
5. Stick With It
Once you start mulching, keep going! Avoid removing or disturbing mulch, as it could expose soil to freezing temperatures or harsh heat. You may not see immediate results, but, trust us, you’ll see a difference in the health of your yard overall. Stay patient, and don’t give up on your dream of an aesthetically pleasing lawn.
The Grounds Guys of Gettysburg Is Ready to Help Your Lawn Thrive
If you’re considering mulch for your flower and tree beds, our team at The Grounds Guys of Gettysburg is here to help you get started. Our team is ready to support you in choosing the correct mulch ideal for your lawn and take care of spring clean-up, so you have a tidy outdoor space ready for mulch. As landscaping and lawn care experts in Gettysburg, we love helping you bring out your yard’s true potential with our competitively priced and exceptional services.You’ll get the beautiful lawn you’ve always wanted when you trust the “right” guys for the job. Call (717) 798-3597">(717) 798-3597, so we can work with you today.