Cultivating mulch

Discussion in 'Landscape Maintenance' started by BrendonTW, Jul 6, 2012.

  1. BrendonTW

    BrendonTW LawnSite Senior Member
    Male, from Oklahoma City
    Messages: 790

    I heard that Echo used to make an attachment for cultivating & turning over mulch in beds. We use premium shredded cedar mulch on most of our accounts. The fine shredded stuff looks fantastic for a week. Then after week or two of irrigation it looks matted. We go back and turn this mulch over and tear it back apart, it's pretty quick going, and then it seems to look good for the rest of the season.

    Though it is quick going, it requires the entire crew to focus on it, and it's "hands and knees" work.

    Do any of you have any ideas or tools for making this job go by quicker? I don't like using a "toothed ho" (Don't know the technical name for this tool) because it doesn't tear the mulch apart from being matted very well, and bunches it up.
  2. White Gardens

    White Gardens LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,776

    I put my clients on a two year mulch cycle with 2-3 times shredded hardwood mulch.

    In the second year after application, I go through and till the mulch with my Stihl FS 90 and a yard boss tiller head on the end. I also use the cultivator tines.

    Works great in comparison to the mulch pro (?) attachments that used to be on the market. Those attachments had skinny tine shafts and would wrap themselves up in shrub branches and be a bear to untangle. Wire cages on B and B trees were the worst and I ended up breaking one of them when getting wrapped up in the wire.

    My tiller head works way better. With the tines being larger, it's easier to untangle and I never have an issue with wire baskets.

    A property I service has 25 yards of mulch on it, and it takes me about 4 hours to turn the mulch. When I'm done, I just use a rake to get the hard to reach spots and move around larger piles of mulch.

    The tiller head also works great as a bed-redefiner. I just take the tines off one side of the head and it digs out my trenches with ease. Then I can also use it to move the spoils around.

    One of my favorite uses for it is when renovating rock beds around houses. I just go slow and it dislodges the rocks buried in the dirt. Beats using a rake and shovel hands down.

    I've had mine for 7 years, and have replaced the bearings in the head once. The tines have held up great, but will probably be getting either a new head or tines next year.

  3. BrendonTW

    BrendonTW LawnSite Senior Member
    Male, from Oklahoma City
    Messages: 790

    I have the echo equivalent to the yard boss tiller, and the only problem is that it ends up digging too deep/mixing soil with mulch and doesn't leave a very smooth mulch surface on top.

    Most of our high end accounts receive mulch two times a year by the way. Sounds like we go through a LOT compared to you guys lol. AND we usually turn it over twice a year too. Doesn't it get pretty faded and mattes going a year before turning it?
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  4. White Gardens

    White Gardens LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,776

    Yes and no. Your using cedar and that's a different animal as it turns gray way faster than hardwood, even in the shade.

    I like to keep it matted into the fall so that leaf cleanup are easier without pushing out too much mulch. Spring is when I turn it.

    As for fade, it's just on the surface. With normal grounds maintenance, it gets fussed around to keep it looking good.

    Ya, your going to be un-even when tilling it, and have to go back over it with a spring rake, but generally it doesn't take to much time for us.


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