Fresh Mulch in Fall Feeds Soil, Protects Plants Over Winter
dark hardwood mulch
As you prepare your lawn for a North Carolina winter, don’t forget to take care of the areas around it with a fresh coat of mulch.
In Charlotte, the most popular landscape mulch choice also happens to be the best choice for your yard, according to local mulch and landscape materials companies.
What's the best type of mulch for Charlotte yards?
“Eighty-five percent of what we sell is double-hammered hardwood,” says Brad Poole, a manager at highly rated Blue Max Materials of Charlotte. Double-hammered hardwood mulch is finely ground mulch harvested from the bark of the hardwood tree, which is a good thing.
Cheaper mulches, such as the kind sold at county recycling centers, may contain wood fiber from tree limbs, which can attract insects such as termites.
Some mulches made of wood fiber, such as cypress and cedar, are OK because they have smells that repel insects, Poole says. Cypress mulch, which has been popular in Charlotte, is increasingly hard to find in North Carolina because it’s been overharvested, he says.
PHOTO GALLERY: The many types of landscape mulch
While some homeowners like the look of red- and black-dyed mulches, the colors don’t look as natural in the North Carolina environment and aren't as widely available.
Regardless of what kind of mulch you choose, mix it up next time. “Change the type you use every few years, to introduce new nutrients,” he says.
Hardwood mulches also add nutrients back to the soil as they decompose, Poole says. Unlike other types of mulch, he adds, they are compact and heavy enough to stay put in harsh weather, which makes them a good choice for fall applications.
How much mulch should you put down and when?
Poole says there isn’t a bad time of year to put down mulch, but doing so in the fall offers the ground underneath some insulation and protection from winter freezing.
The ideal depth for mulch? Three inches, Poole says. If you lay too little mulch, you’re not getting the full benefits. Too much could block rain from getting to the soil below.
Before you begin your fall mulching, figure out how much you need. Keep in mind, existing mulch beds may not need the full three inches because they already have some mulch.
Angie’s List landscaping experts recommend you prepare your landscape for fresh mulch by killing weeds and cleaning out plant beds. Then, start spreading. If it’s going to take you a few weekends to finish, consider turning the pile of mulch, so that internal heat doesn’t hurt your soil.