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turfed
08-27-2010, 02:06 AM
I have a very high maintenance customer. Their old landscaper occasionally stops by the property and tells the customer all the things "wrong" with what we are doing to the job they installed years before. Trimming bushes this way, and so on. The new complaint is the thickness of mulch.

We installed a double ground hardwood mulch throughout the beds. When we put this down, there was mostly bare soil. It had been a couple of years since mulch had been applied. We put in between 3-5 inches roughly. I was told that on an existing landscape, you should put in a max of 1 inch. For new landscapes, 3-5 would be ok. They want us to remove the "excess" mulch before we kill the plants. Is there any truth to this?? I'm not a guy with 15 years experience, but i can't see where this could be true. In addition, they're telling me that the thickness of the mulch will have nothing to do with controlling weeds. These beds all have applications of weed control. I thought it made sense that with the thicker mulch, less weeds can germinate.

I know over time the mulch will break down and turn to soil, thus possibly holding weed seeds. But in your opinion, am I damaging the landscape with the mulch thickness? Any thoughts will help......thanks.

MDLawn
08-27-2010, 02:07 PM
I'm no landscape master but most of my mulch jobs I try to stay between 1-2" with 2" being max. This helps with weed control but I've seen weeds grow out of and in most anything. Too much and the mulch tends to look sloppy after certain areas settle more than others. I also find that excess mulch just needs to be removed the following year to clean out the beds properly. A 5 inch layer would take some time to breakdown. Only my opinion but I was also taught this way by a landscaper I worked with years ago and everyone was a return customer year after year. You also don't want to bury the plants in mulch either. Don't cover tree trunks in mulch. Every area is different but I feel that 3-5" is just wasting material.

I'm not agreeing with the landscaper who installed the landscape but make sure you are trimming everything right. Last thing you want is to find out you cut off all the blooms or killed a plant. Maybe they are just mad you got the maintenance on the property. Did they previously do the maintenance?

Glenn Lawn Care
08-27-2010, 02:58 PM
I always put down 3 inches of mulch. You will always get weeds in mulch beds so up sell spraying weeds weekly. Job security!

GMLC
08-27-2010, 04:53 PM
I always lay 3-4 inches for new beds. Never heard of to much mulch causing problems.

starry night
08-27-2010, 04:56 PM
turfed: I'm truly not trying to be mean but if you don't know that 3-5 inches of mulch is too much, then you probably don't know how to properly trim bushes.
Another words, you need some good experience and education. You may find guys on here who will say that 3-5 inches is OK. In fact, that depth is OK strictly for weed control. Put on 6-8 inches and you'll even have better weed control. But in a planting bed two inches maximum is recommended by those who know what is best for the plants. Roots need air! Trimming bushes properly is not merely shearing them into round shapes. But then again maybe that is all your clients are willing to pay for. If so, go right ahead and trim that way.
But if you want to trim properly you need to know the characteristics of a given plant which will tell you when and how to prune them.

BCLawns
08-27-2010, 07:52 PM
agree with the above post. around plants and bushes 2" is enough.

Runner
08-28-2010, 07:32 PM
I disagree. 3" to 4" is a standard depth for mulch, and takes that to block enough light for weed prevention. Turfed, there is truth to what is said in you post, but it is taken out of context. 3 to 5" is ok initially on new landscape installs, because you are starting from scratch, and at the high end, 5", it will pack down and settle a bit after it is soaked a few times. The bit about the 1" of mulch on an existing landscape is for top dressing an existing mulch base to freshen it up, and that is advised, because that is the minimal you need, so it it appeals for economic reasons. However, if the old mulch is depleted and/or decomposed enough to where more mulch can be added, that is fine, too. In other words, if there is around 2" of mulch left in the beds, it is perfectly ok to add another 2" or so - (even a bit more, as it is going to settle). Now,..thing to look OUT for is that the crowns of the plants are not covered. This will cause rot, as it hold too much moisture at the base of the plant - this includes trees.

starry night
08-28-2010, 07:48 PM
Ohio State University Extension Fact Sheet
Mulching Depth

The recommended mulching depth, depending on the
material selected, is 2 to 2.5 inches. At this depth, most mulches will accommodate the primary objectives of weed control, soil moisture conservation and temperature modification. However, mulch applied 3 to 6 inches or more, still recommended by some, can lead to serious problems for landscape plants. A mulch that is too thick may severely reduce or eliminate drying and lead to water-logged soil.

When The Ohio State University speaks, I listen.

dKoester
08-28-2010, 08:35 PM
Get Planet certified and that will help solve alot of problems.

Johnny test
08-29-2010, 08:09 PM
However, mulch applied 3 to 6 inches or more, still recommended by some, can lead to serious problems for landscape plants. A mulch that is too thick may severely reduce or eliminate drying and lead to water-logged soil.

Hmmm, That is odd...I know that the limit is 3inches. 2-2.5 is common. But the reasons I have always been told were different. No more than 3" because the water will have more trouble reaching the soil and the plant material would be more likely to not get enough water...

Get Planet certified and that will help solve alot of problems.

Indeed....

Kinz
08-29-2010, 10:56 PM
3" on bare soil, re-apply with another inch or two every year.

PerfectEarth
08-30-2010, 12:11 AM
3 inches is pushing it for me, big time- especially in an established, yearly mulched ornamental bed. I can see 3 on a new install, yes.

5 is insane IMO. Stick with 2-2.5....and I'm not saying this cause I just read "Ohio Sate" says it. :)

It's the decent, average choice.

baddboygeorge
08-30-2010, 12:49 AM
Mulch is a weed controller , a moisture barrier as well, and a decorative covering all in one .3-5 inches is great on a new install. Anyone that tells you different is wrong . The more moisture content you can keep aound the root ball area of that plant the better the plant is going to grow .Have fun an educate your customer !!!

piperpm
09-04-2010, 04:01 PM
3" on new landscape surfaces is fine. Re-application year to year I would go at 2-2.5".
You're a bit thick at 5" but it will break down over time, and depending on the mulch type, it may break down quicker then other mulches.

...and, it amazes me how much arrogance gets thrown around on these message boards.. to all of you who think you are gods gift to landscaping, if a guy asks a question, HELP him out... you look like a fool when you slam each other here... don't lose focus on the fact that we do landscaping, not brain surgery.

starry night
09-04-2010, 05:24 PM
If I'm one who is arrogant, it is based on plenty of education and 26 years experience. My earlier references to recommending two to two and a half inches was based on hardwood bark. Again that is for beds with plants. Sorry, if you disagree, you haven't learned enough about plants and soil biology. If you only want it for decoration or weed control pile on all you want.
For the OP: It's really important that we make distinctions among various mulches especially as to re-mulching. Dyed pallet-wood breaks down very slowly.(and ties up nitrogen while it is breaking down.)
Cypress bark doesn't break down at all. Whole-tree cypress very slowly.

MDLawn
09-04-2010, 07:44 PM
Dirtandhoops makes a very good point with the type of mulch. I've used very fine mulches that are gone the next year and woody mulches that don't break down much at all. Inches and inches of woody type mulch just wouldn't break down well and may need to be removed each year, needless work. I would think that a good mulch that breaks down each year is good for the soil.
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starry night
09-04-2010, 08:13 PM
Right on, MDLawn. About four years ago we took over care of a bank property that we had been trying to get for three years. Each year when I approached them, I suggested that they didn't need all the mulch that their current provider was using. Three inches was being added each year on top of pallet mulch that was there and furthermore that was on top of weed fabric!
The yews in the beds were looking sickly. When we finally got the property, we spent many hours removing mulch and the weed fabric, which the bank paid for. Now the plants can breathe again.

As for your second point about mulch breakdown being good for the soil: We use hardwood bark fines or our favorite, actual compost, as a mulch.

MDLawn
09-04-2010, 08:22 PM
Right on, MDLawn. About four years ago we took over care of a bank property that we had been trying to get for three years. Each year when I approached them, I suggested that they didn't need all the mulch that their current provider was using. Three inches was being added each year on top of pallet mulch that was there and furthermore that was on top of weed fabric!
The yews in the beds were looking sickly. When we finally got the property, we spent many hours removing mulch and the weed fabric, which the bank paid for. Now the plants can breathe again.

As for your second point about mulch breakdown being good for the soil: We use hardwood bark fines or our favorite, actual compost, as a mulch.

When I lived in a different, but close, town I used a "triple ground" hardwood product that spread like a compost product. Where I am now most customers want black mulch and that only comes in a shredded wood product. It looks real nice and I'll have to see what it looks like next spring and if it breaks down at all. Both I would try to spread only 2". Been doing this for 10 years with good results. Most of my current customers complained about the previous company putting down mulch too thick, seriously. Areas are different though.
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starry night
09-04-2010, 08:34 PM
Yes the trends in mulch are interesting. Many years ago, we used cedar bark mulch around here. I remember the driver, who trucked it here, was laughing to me. He said the folks in Minnesota where it came from thought it was a joke that anybody would use it as mulch. Up there, most of it that was stripped from logs was burnt as fuel in factories. Later on, especially in the Columbus area, cypress (the real stringy bark) was very popular but we did not see it used much in northern Ohio except at Bob Evans Restaurants where it was specified. Now, all over Ohio, there is much of the dyed pallet mulch (which I refuse to use.) Actually it is a sad thing to me to think that mulch outsells every other landscaping product including plants and trees. Pile it on. Pile it on. As decoration!

capetrees
09-04-2010, 09:57 PM
Whenever I re-mulch the beds, I always rake up last years loose mulch, remove the mulch from around the bases of plants, bushes and trees to allow for better air flow, pull as many weeds as possible, spray the rest(the smaller ones), lay out 2.5-3 inches of mulch, regardless of new or old and then top with Preen to discorage weed germination.

Works every time.:usflag:

Kinz
09-04-2010, 10:07 PM
Sometimes it's good (if it can be done) to leave the soil bare, or as bare as possible, then let a cold snap hit, and that will kill alot of the weed seeds. Then mulch. Then top off with a little in the spring. And like capetrees says, although I always forget, put a litle Preen down too.

straightlineland
09-09-2010, 11:16 PM
3" maximum in plant beds. Keep mulch away from tree trunks and bushes stems. You can cause rot otherwise. You will also want to avoid the volcano effect around trees.

We offer top dressing (1" - 1 1/2") on landscapes with existing mulch layer and re-mulching (2"-3") on landscapes with bare or almost bare soil landscape beds.

I too am not saying you are trimming bushes wrong, but you do need to know what you are trimming, how it grows, when and how it flowers and buds. Ask your client what is the original landscper referring too. Maybe you are trimming bushes individually that were intended to be a hedge by the designer. You knows unless you know what he is referring too. Just my 2 cents.

clcare2
09-11-2010, 01:15 AM
Did everyone miss that the problem was started by the "old" landscaper, who is still coming around? Tell the customer to shove off and walk away. You don't need the headaches this is gonna cause.

SuperPROlawnScalper
09-11-2010, 01:37 AM
3" maximum in plant beds. Keep mulch away from tree trunks and bushes stems. You can cause rot otherwise. You will also want to avoid the volcano effect around trees.



what is volcano effect

ochosdaddy
09-11-2010, 02:10 AM
Sometimes it's good (if it can be done) to leave the soil bare, or as bare as possible, then let a cold snap hit, and that will kill alot of the weed seeds.

Ever heard of cold stratification?

Stillwater
09-11-2010, 03:51 AM
Get Planet certified and that will help solve alot of problems.

oh please.......

straightlineland
09-11-2010, 08:28 AM
Did everyone miss that the problem was started by the "old" landscaper, who is still coming around? Tell the customer to shove off and walk away. You don't need the headaches this is gonna cause.
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starry night
09-11-2010, 10:11 AM
what is volcano effect

It is the practice of some people (who are uneducated in proper mulching or who don't care) of piling mulch up the trunks of smaller trees in a cone ("volcano") shape.

Patriot Services
09-11-2010, 01:06 PM
It is the practice of some people (who are uneducated in proper mulching or who don't care) of piling mulch up the trunks of smaller trees in a cone ("volcano") shape.

Very true, mulch can hinder water from getting to roots. I always make a slight berm around the plant to help funnel the water towards the roots. Guys think mulch is just drop and spread. :usflag:

As far as the old landscaper I wonder why they did the install but not sell a service package too?:usflag:

White Gardens
09-15-2010, 08:14 PM
I'd say 3-5 on a new install is OK. After that only topdressing is needed.

In order to completely utilize good mulch, you occasionally need to till it up to loosen the mulch and help to let the soil breath.

So ultimately if you are doing mulch, a good maintenance plan is needed to keep the mulch at safe levels and also to extend the life of the mulch. 2 tilings a year is what I recommend to my customers. Not only is it beneficial, but you find out if you have areas that are too thin or too thick and you can move it around accordingly.

I also take into consideration mulch loss. If a leaf blower is used during fall cleanups and such you're bound to loose some mulch ever season. Decomposition is also a factor.

Ultimately you just need to trust your gut and decide what is best for the situation you are in.

seabee24
09-15-2010, 08:35 PM
3 is max, new or old

in fact the total depth of the mulch , new or old, or combination of both should not be more than 3 inches. more than that and your wasting product, and hurting the plants.

seabee24
09-15-2010, 08:38 PM
and the next time the old landscaper comes around, i would point out that you try to act in a professional manor...but if he keeps bad moulthing your customers, you will take the day off of work, follow his crews from one locaion to the next, and personally send them a letter next year not only pointing out everything that is bad, but a low ball offer to switch teams. i got news no one does every thing 100% correct.

even disney world can be improved with a different set of eyes on it

georgiagrass
09-18-2010, 01:16 AM
3" is our target depth for hardwood mulch, although a little more is not harmful; wasteful maybe, but not harmful. In any event, you should not pile mulch up against plant stems or trunks.