Landscapers in Vancouver Spread Mulch Madness!

As a team of landscapers in Vancouver, we apologize in advance for this–welcome to the tumulchuous world of mulch. 

What is Mulch?

Mulching is the general process of spreading a layer of organic material over your garden in order to encourage and discourage specific activities in your garden’s processes. This layer, classically composed of things such as wood chips, compost, leaves and various other materials, acts as a multi-benefit additive to your garden. As a team of experienced landscapers in Vancouver, we use organic mulch for a variety of applications. Mulching works to help our clients suppress weeds, enhance growth, retain water, and insulate from cold –  among many other benefits. 

While mulching seems simple, a google how-to search can quickly become overwhelming. The world of mulch is almost endlessly diverse, appearing in a number of compositions, sizes, materials and even colours. After a few pages of scrolling- the seemingly simple idea of mulching can feel completely unapproachable.

Luckily, the function of this process rarely wavers, with its purpose being to aid in both the health and beauty of your garden. As Vancouver landscapers, we’ve prepared for you here a single destination for any and all of your questions about mulching.

Why Mulch?

When done correctly and with the right knowledge at hand- there are virtually no downsides to mulching your garden. Think of it as tucking your beloved garden into bed and giving it a little kiss on the cheek –  but instead of a blanket, it’s wood chips and rather than a kiss, it’s compost.

Benefits of mulching include:

  • Suppress and starve out weeds

  • Thermal insulation in the colder months

  • Water retention in warmer months

  • Break down of material over time acts as fertilizer, thus enhancing plant growth

  • Break down helps improve soil drainage

  • Can add an element of beauty to your garden

  • Help discourage erosion and washout

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The Basics: Mulching 101

Although it is often seen as an optional gardening activity- the small effort (especially when you call your local landscaping experts) is well worth the multitude of benefits! 

When to mulch

Unlike many other gardening activities that require a strict schedule, mulching can be done at various times throughout the year. Fall mulching is great for winter insulation, summer for retaining water, and spring mulching can be utilized to starve out weeds early. When considering spring mulching however, keep in mind the maturity of your garden and allow your plants to get a considerable jump start in their growth before surrounding them with mulch. This usually results in spring mulching taking place in the mid to late spring. 

How much

Best mulching practices in Vancouver call for approximately 2-3 inches of material in order for best results in your garden. Because it is often composed of easily biodegradable material, make sure to check up on your mulch on a yearly basis.

Common Mistakes

  • Too much mulch is a common issue for the gardener that gets a little bit too excited about the process. In most cases, any more than 4 inches of mulch quickly voids the contract between mulch and garden health. Over mulching can lead to overheated plants in the summer months as the roots become too insulated and warm. In the winter- it can also lead to rotten sad roots as the mulch holds on to too much water.

  • Oppositely, Too little mulch can also be a problem when deciding to mulch your garden. Too little mulch can quickly be washed away, resulting in a wonky and uneven look to your landscaping. Additionally, a lack of adequate material can quickly render many of the benefits of mulching ineffective. 

  • Improper choice of mulch can also quickly become your garden’s downfall when first starting out. Given this, we’ve compiled a quick list of the main types of mulch, and the best ways they can be used in your garden!

What Mulch is Right for You?

Although typically composed of only a few different materials, varieties of mulch can be vast and plentiful. Below, we’ve compiled a little meet and greet of the stars of the mulch world. As landscapers in Vancouver, we work exclusively with organic varieties and will help you choose the best for your based on desired appearance and application. 

Composted mulch

A trusted classic, a standup guy. Composed of a decomposed mix of organic wastes including leaves, soil, grass and wood chips.

Best Applications: Lightweight composition makes it great for raised vegetable or annual beds

Pros

  • Organic content will improve soil nutrition

  • Environmentally friendly

  • Widely available

  • Easy to move and work with

  • Neat and tidy appearance

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Cons

  • Poor quality mulch can contain weeds or chemicals

  • Needs to be reapplied at least every 2 years to maintain properties

  • Thicker application needed to totally eliminate weeds

Aged Tree Bark

The star student, always working hard. Made up of a mix of compost and tree bark.

Best Applications: Great in landscape applications and perennial gardens.

Pros

  • Slow to break down, ideal for walkways

  • Will not wash or blow away due to higher density components

  • Great for steep applications

  • Attractive application

  • Composted components help improve soil quality

Cons

  • Breaks down faster than traditional bark mulches

  • Not as attractive as primarily bark mulches

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Bark Mulch

Showy yet hardworking. 

Best Applications: Great for pathways and around larger shrubs or trees.

Pros

  • Attractive appearance

  • Readily available

  • Breaks down slowly

  • Great at weed suppression

  • Works well for pathways and play spaces

Cons

  • Does not improve soil nutrition to the extent of compost mulches

  • Often doesn’t leave room for beneficial insects

  • Difficult to move when adding new plants to a space

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Leaf Mulch

A little edgy, but trustworthy and wellmeaning at heart.

Best Applications: Trees have been mulching themselves with their own leaves long before humans ever started to interfere. Great for flower beds and around shrubs and trees if you don’t mind a more organic look.

Pros

  • Free!

  • Adds nutrients to the soil

  • Environmentally friendly, no packaging or transportation required

Cons

  • Decomposes quickly, requires reapplication often

  • Best leaf mulch should be shredded beforehand, otherwise can clump and block water to the plants below

  • Can easily blow away

  • Potentially messy appearance

Hay and Straw

Down to earth, a go with the flow kind of guy.

Best Applications: Great in vegetable and fruit garden applications. The soft material cushions  developing fruits and squashes that rest on the ground while keeping the plants warm.

Pros

  • Long lasting

  • Easy to remove when needed

  • Great insulation in winter

  • Houses beneficial Garden Insects

Cons

  • Potentially messy appearance

  • Can potentially contain weed seeds or herbicides if not intended for mulching applications

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Thanks for joining us here in the world of mulch. If this article was a little too tumulchous for you- don’t hesitate to reach out to EcoBridge. As friendly landscapers in Vancouver, we’ll be glad to answer any of your questions or inquiries. We’re also happy to provide free estimates. 

Happy mulching!

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