Homeowners often face the dilemma, should I choose stone or mulch? How much should I use? Both materials have their pluses and minuses; sometimes it is a good idea to consider a combination depending on the area and plants.
Mulch needs to be reapplied yearly due to decomposition and fading. Although, it decomposes, it does provide valuable nutrients for plants. Consider organic mulch, as it also provides the extra nutrients needed. Shredded hardwood can last up to 3 years.
Dark bark mulches absorb heat from the sun and radiate it back up to plants, just make sure to use plants that are tolerant to the heat. The faster the mulch percolates water, the longer it lasts. Leave approximately 8 inches of space between mulch and tree trunks; otherwise you will create a volcano around the tree and hurt or destroy the root system.
If your property is on hilly terrain, choose mulch that contains a mixture of many sizes. I will offer additional advice on which mulch is best for your yard and which plants to choose for my future blog topics.
How much mulch should you use?
Typically, you should expect to use one cubic yard (nine 3 cubic ft. bags) of mulch, to cover a 100 square ft. area, to the depth of 2-3 inches.
Stone will not have to be replaced, as it doesn’t decompose, however, approximately every 5 to 10 years I recommend adding a top layer, as the stones’ color will fade in time. Stones absorb heat during the day and release it to plants at night. Therefore, you can start planting your perennials earlier in the spring; the additional warmth allows you to grow plants that are borderline hardy. Extra water may be needed, particularly with dark stones due to the heat, as they may absorb more water.
How much stone should you use?
This is a tough question to answer as it depends on the size and type of stone you use. I suggest consulting your lawn care company or landscaping supply store you purchase it from; the general rule of thumb is up to a depth of 3 inches. The stone should be installed on a clean and even surface on top of landscape fabric to prevent weeds from sprouting up.
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