I like the natural look of organic mulch when defining landscape aesthetics. We all know that mulch is important for adding organic amendments to the soil as it decomposes, preventing water evaporation, keeps the soil cooler, and reduces weed germination. Aesthetically, mulching is usually the job to be done in a landscape installation or renovation. I think of mulch as the framework to your landscape painting. Mulch should enhance your landscape, not be the focal point of it.
Remember these tips when deciding what color mulch to use:
- If the most colorful thing in your landscape is your mulch, you need to rethink your landscape design.
- Black mulch is trending right now. Looks like the black earth soil in northern or English cottage gardens. Design-wise it's my mulch of choice. Next preference (for me) is small pink bark or pine fines.
- Do not use red mulch with red plants, tile roofs, or brick.
- Okay, do not use red mulch at all. It looks horrible in the landscape. Blecch!
- Do not use cypress mulch. It doesn't weather well, turns grey, and it doesn't prevent termites. It's also a non-renewable source. It takes 200 years for a cypress tree to mature. Think environmentally when purchasing your mulch.
- Use rock mulch as last resort or if preferred with modern, mid-modern, Asian, Western-themed, or desert landscapes. Just for the record, rocks do not prevent weeds entirely or ensure a no-maintenance landscape. Your rock mulch beds will still need regular oversight and maintenance.
- Replace mulch as needed to keep at 3" high. Do not create mulch mountains. If there is 3" of mulch still in place next season, there is no reason to put more on top. Or if it's down one inch, then only add one inch of mulch. No need to be wasteful.
- If your mulch is still thick but faded, you can buy organic paints to refresh old mulch. Check with box stores or on Internet for companies.
- Mulch should be 3" - 4" thick around shrubs and trees but keep mulch away from base to prevent disease issues.
- Mulch does not attract insects - moisture does. Do not overwater your house foundation. Spray irrigation away from house not towards.
- Metal edging is the piece de resistance in framing mulch beds. It keeps the mulch in place and provides a straight edge look that is clean and crisp. It's a definite must for finishing your mulch project professionally.