Mulch protects plants, improves yard’s appearance

by Michele Collins

Ohioans love their mulch, purchasing yards of the organic material every spring to spread in flower beds, on yard islands and around the front of their homes.

According to Zach Zuercher, an owner of Three-Z-Inc. in Valley View, the best time to spread mulch is after the pollen falls.

“People sometimes want to spread mulch in early May, but then the yellow pollen falls all over it,” he said. “I usually recommend waiting until after Memorial Day weekend to be sure the pollen has already fallen from the trees.”

Mulch, which is primarily made of tree bark, wood chips, pine straw, moss, grass clippings and leaves, can be dyed to meet customer’s preferences. But according to Ohio State Landscaping landscape designer Mark Baytos, paying for high quality mulch is worth the money.

“I do not recommend using wood chips, as they are not seasoned and can attract insects,” shared Baytos. “The high quality mulch is made of all biodegradable products, and acts as a protectant to the plants.”

He explained that mulch helps retain water for plants and works as a protector of young roots and plants. It also helps to protect them from summer’s hot sun.

In the winter, he said, it serves as a barrier to the cold.

“Don’t forget to keep mulch on your beds and plants during the winter months,” he said. “Going without mulch is like going without a jacket in the winter.”

Both landscape professionals agree that mulch improves the appearance of yards and plants. Zuercher said that at his business, black mulch seems to be the most popular, but the dark brown or natural color is also popular. Red mulch, which is not as popular in Ohio, is also available.

“Mulch color choice is as personal a choice as choosing what paint color you want on your walls,” said Zuercher with a laugh. “I always let that be the customer’s choice.”

Baytos agreed: “One thing that mulch also does is provide a beautiful aesthetic to any homeowner’s lawn. Mulch makes everything look better, it highlights the color of the plants and flowers, makes grass look greener. It really does improve any yard’s appearance.”

While the designers might not give advice on what color mulch to use, they do recommend the proper amount to spread.

“You want to spread 2 inches of mulch on top if there already is a mulch base. But if you have cleared it down to ground level, I would recommend spreading 3 inches,” Zuercher said.

He said 1 cubic yard of mulch will cover 100 square feet of space, with a three-inch high spread. For a two-inch spread, it will cover 150 square feet, he said.

Baytos added that four inches is the most amount of mulch one should use.  “It’s really between 2-4 inches of mulch for proper coverage.”

Both landscape companies are at the start of the spring season, a time when mulch is one of their most sought-after products. Ohio State Landscaping, located in Richfield, works with customers to plan spreading mulch at their homes during the timeframe that best meets the type of plants and beds they have.  Three-Z does not offer mulch spreading services, but it does work with several local school districts who offer up student mulch spreaders to raise money for their schools.

Or homeowners can just get out their own shovels and rakes to DIY the spread. It just takes digging in. ∞