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Is mulch a good investment for you (the pros & cons)

Everyone loves the looks of gardens, the different shapes, colours and sizes of plants along with the beauty of their blooms and berries. However, most people do not enjoy the maintenance it requires to upkeep their gardens. Constant weeding and the sight of thistles and dandelions popping up throughout your gardens can ruin the experience for you. This has caused many people to prefer landscapes without any gardens to avoid this hassle however we here at Birk’s believe that it is possible to enjoy having gardens without much hassle and that solution would be mulch.

Now before anyone freaks out and says that they have mulched their gardens before and they still got weeds here me out. We are going to go over several options here for you and possibly you may not have tried everything. We will be going over all your options listing some pros and cons for you to consider for your landscape.

First off, we will look at a landscape with no gardens. The obvious pro and why most people like this option is that it has the least amount of maintenance. There will be very little yard upkeep with a yard that has no gardens. Many people choose to also have a yard with no Sod which reduces the maintenance even more. The cons to having a yard that has no gardens is that the yard can look to hard.

Often gardens are installed in a landscape to give it a softer more natural look. Often breaking up the hard lines and edges of a patio against a home really adds to the look of the landscape. The other con to a landscape with no gardens is that gardens are the cheapest accent pieces for your landscape. If you want something to stand out on your property and you don’t have any exciting plants odds are you will have to install another feature. A fire place, outdoor kitchen or water feature are all great options and look fantastic however they will be more expensive than having a garden with a few nice plants.

The second option is having gardens installed without any mulch. The pros to this are the lowest initial cost to creating a garden area. The garden if maintained properly will always look good the soil will remain healthy for annuals to be planted. As well the garden is the easiest to work with in this format both for adding new plants and maintenance. If maintaining a garden is something you enjoy and you are more cost sensitive this is a good option for you. The main con for this option is the maintenance required as their will be very regular weeding in order to keep these gardens looking sharp.

The third option is mulching your gardens. If you choose to mulch your gardens you will want to have a 2-3-inch layer of mulch over the whole garden to have the greatest affect. Also mulching gardens that previously had weeds in them will not stop the weeds from coming through. It will hinder (but not stop) growth of new weeds and will have no effect on weeds that are already in your garden. The pros to using mulch in your gardens is less maintenance, better long-term plant growth and plant survival. Mulch will definitely reduce the maintenance of your gardens if applied correctly, for instance in a new garden or in a freshly weeded and turned garden it will at a minimum cut your garden maintenance time in half.

Mulch also decomposes releasing nutrients into the soil over time which helps the plants in the garden flourish over time. However, when initially applied mulch sucks the nitrogen out of the soil making it more difficult for plants, this is one of mulches cons. If you are planting annuals in a freshly mulched bed they will not perform as well as they would have if they were planted in an older mulched bed or a garden that has no mulch. The other con for using mulch is that over the years the mulch becomes unsightly. This will mean that you will have to reapply mulch every few years.

Finally, the fourth option is mulch over a weed resistant barrier such as filter cloth. This option will have the least number of weeds of all the options with gardens. The weed resistant barrier will stop existing weeds from coming through and new weeds from taking hold in your garden. The mulch in this case is used more for look than function with the weed barrier doing most of the work. The cons of this option are that it can be more of a challenge adding new plants to the garden. It can be a haste digging through the mulch to get to the barrier to cut out a section. Try and dig a hole through it without having much soil land on the top side of the cloth allowing weeds to take place but it can be done. The other con is that weeds can start to sprout in decomposing mulch without being in contact with any soil. There will be far fewer but it will happen. The mulch will still have to be removed every few years to maintain a good look and keep the weeds from sprouting in the mulch.

Daniel Hogenbirk

Landscape Foreman

Birk’s Landscaping Inc.

(905) 404-0602

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