Gardening & Landscaping
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Should mulch be replaced every couple years?

I have mulch that was put in the landscaping when our house was built. I personally don't care for the kind that was put in, but we're replacing it with tree bark chips. I personally dont like regular mulch, and dh doesn't like the stones. Do you need to replace the bark/mulch every couple years though? I see my neighbor replacing his every so often, but not sure if theres an actual reason why other than he wants a new look. (We don't really talk to our neighbors for me to ask him...their kind of snobby) We're also planning on putting it along the sides of our driveway. Anyone have their own pics of this, comments, etc? Also, would this have any toll on the quality of anything growing in the garden? May be a stupid question, but I would think it would effect the soil from being watered as well. I assume I'm wrong since a lot of people do this.

Re: Should mulch be replaced every couple years?

  • we mulch and add soil conditioner every year
  • PIB of our landscaping. As you can see, we have a LOT of mulch!

    Our landscaper recommends either a thin layer of mulch replacement every year, or a thicker layer every 2 years. He just put in a fresh batch last fall, which was our 2 year mark.

    Mulch is biodegradable, so over time some will wash away, and a lot will break down. It won't go away completely, but it gets thin in spots.

    Mulch is a great way to keep down weeds in the garden/yard. It won't eliminate them completely, but it's better than nothing. I prefer it over stones. The previous owners of our house had stones over weed fabric. Every time you pulled a weed, you displaced the fabric and the stones. it was a PITA. I'd much rather go out every few days and pull weeds here and there from the mulch and not really disturb anything.

    You are indeed wrong about mulch adversely affecting soil, plants, and watering. Mulch actually helps keep moisture in, so it's possible you will water much less without it. It also acts as an insulator, which can be helpful when trying to help plants overwinter.

    There are many different kinds of mulch, so do some research and find one tht maybe you can both agree on.


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  • I just asked my grandma this same question. She said some mulches ie the ones that are from shredded trees break down faster and therefore need to be replaced more often (she does it every year.) Whereas the bark mulches tend to not break down as fast so she can get 2+ years out of them.


  • We do regular bark chips every year.  Like pp said, they wash away, compact, decompose, all sorts of natural things and you have to put it down every year.  If you ever notice professionally landscaped areas like shopping centers and whatnot, they put out mulch every year.

    And like pp said, mulch is good for your garden.  It prevents weeds and keeps moisture in.  You should always water the base of the plant, not the top leaves and flowers, because the plant gets more water that way and because it can be bad for some leaves to stay wet overnight.  When you water directly at the base, that's how the mulch keeps the water in.

  • thanks all! just one other question. if im using mulch, should i not plant with seeds? a website i went to from googling, said to not use annuals because it will take longer for them to poke through the mulch.
  • mulch is actually good for your plants - it protects them and it holds in moisture.  i replace my mulch every year b/c it just makes the beds so much nicer looking and finished. 

    with regard to seeds, i have spread seeds and then mulched the beds.  if there is already mulch down, you can just move the mulch over and plant your seeds then cover the area back up with a thin layer.  you can also start the seeds in the house in peat pots and then once they are coming up, you can transplant them in the areas of your bed that you want them!

  • I mulched my raised garden bed and planted seeds with no problem. The key is to remember that seeds are pretty good at figuring out which way to go when it comes to germinating and growing. If they can grow on a random forest floor, or under even worse conditions, they can handle a little mulch.

    I have never heard anything about annuals. I usually buy them as plants anyway.

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  • OUKapOUKap
    Eighth Anniversary

    I just put mulch over the existing mulch. You don't have to remove it. If you use something like cottonseed hulls, you can mix it into your dirt every few years.?

    Mulch helps plants. ?

  • The previous owners of our house used some red-dyed wood chips in the few flower beds that were here. I hated the red color; it looked so unnatural. I also prefer shredded mulch to the larger chips, just because it looks nicer to me. Of course, I ended up replacing all of it with new stuff the first chance I got. I had also changed the flower beds a lot ; enlarged some, re-dug others, added new ones. I have some pictures from last year in my bio of some new beds I had made and the new mulch. I won't really have to add mulch this year; I had a nice thick layer put on last year and it's still in good shape and there's really no thin spots, but probably next year I will have to add some.

    Mulch slowly degrades over time and adds nutrients to the soil. It also will draw earthworms to your soil, who will help aerate the soil and their poop is a great fertilizer also! ?It helps retain water and protects tender roots by keeping them moist and cool during hot days. In winter, it helps to protect perennials and other bulbs while they are dormant.

  • We replace mulch every year.  We use triple ground root mulch and it wears away/biodegrades by the end of the season and most spots are bare dirt.

    Plus I like how fresh and clean it looks when everything is freshly mulched.

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