<img height="1" width="1" src="https://www.facebook.com/tr?id=558159424791449&amp;ev=PageView &amp;noscript=1">
Posted by Todd Thomasson on Nov 3, 2020 11:50:28 AM

If you’re someone who takes great pride in having a beautiful landscape, then you know it’s often the “little details” that matter. In fact, all of those seemingly small details can really start to add up. One of those landscaping details in mulch.

Along with those details are choices about materials. Each choice that you make has a direct impact on your landscape in either a positive or negative way.

That’s why you may be wondering what kind of mulch is best?

Mulching is one of those landscape details that might seem small, but really does make a world of difference in both the appearance and the performance of your plant beds.

Because we care about you making wise decisions for your Northern Virginia property, we’re rounding up some of our top advice on the best mulch and how it can enhance your landscape.

Why is Mulch Important for Landscaping?

Before we go into specifics on the best mulch, let’s talk about why mulch is important in the first place.
Mulch protecting plants in a landscape bed
Mulching is obviously an attractive way to enhance your plant beds. Nothing quite freshens up a landscape like a fresh layer of mulch. But there is more to mulch than helping make your landscaping look great.

Let’s look at some of the benefits of mulch.

  • Mulch provides functional benefits such as helping your plants to retain moisture and regulating soil temperatures. In the fall and winter, mulch can help to insulate your plants’ roots from the extreme cold and wind, which can be damaging.
  • Another benefit to mulch is that it will decompose over time and add nutrients into your soil. While some people like the look of landscaping stone, rock does not decompose or add nutrients into the soil.
  • Finally, mulch also has the added benefit of helping to suppress weed growth. It can be difficult for weeds to break through that layer of mulch, making it a valuable way to keep weeds at bay.

Of course, if you’re going to get the full benefits of mulch, it’s important that you invest in a quality product. That’s why you need to understand the value of finding the best mulch.

Why Mulch Quality Makes a Difference

A lot of homeowners are surprised to learn just how much quality variation there can be from one mulch type to another. The fact is, not all mulches are created equal. Buying a poor quality mulch may mean that you don’t reap all of the potential benefits of a healthy layer of mulch.

But even worse, a subpar mulch can actually cause you serious problems.

Though bagged mulch purchased at a big box store can certainly be poor quality, homeowners sometimes run into the most trouble when purchasing mulch from a bulk supply location, like a nursery. While it’s certainly not always the case, some bulk suppliers are using mulch made from recycled sources like ground up pallets and two-by-fours. This is an easy way for them to create a cheap product that they can make the most possible money on.

In a worst-case scenario, that could mean that you end up with nails or even decaying wood in your mulch mix.

But, at the very least, you’ll have a low-quality product that doesn’t give you all the benefits that we talked about. We’ve even heard stories of mulch mixes that included ground-up plant material in them. That’s problematic if those plants were killed by a disease.

Now you could risk introducing disease into your plant bed simply by using the mulch!

Another problem with using mulch made from recycled garden debris is when it includes invasive weeds. You’re likely trying to do everything that you can to keep weeds out of your plant beds and it could be your poor quality mulch that introduces them!

Even from an aesthetics standpoint, a cheap mulch may not absorb dye as well and be as attractive as a higher quality product. When you add a layer of mulch, you want that dark and rich color—not something that looks faded from the very start. But cheap wood and cheap dyes will produce an unattractive mix.

What Kind of Mulch is Best?

Now that you have a better understanding of why the type of mulch you choose is important, let’s talk about what kind of mulch is best.

At Rock Water Farm, we consider virgin hardwood bark mulch the best type of mulch. Using virgin timber means that it’s never been used for anything else.
Hardwood bark mulch
With the use of a hardwood mulch, the product also absorbs dye better, giving you that rich deep color that you seek in a great-looking mulch.

In terms of adding the dye, it’s also important to mention that a mulch manufacturer should use a computer-controlled, automated process to add that color. It’s not a guessing game like you’d see with some poor-quality mulches that struggle to achieve optimal color. It’s a very exact process using a food grade dye.

This is critical because it means it’s also safe. We are conscious of the fact that kids and pets may end up in your mulch bed so you want to be sure that you have a safe product down.

Hardwood mulch lasts longer and is an overall healthier and more effective addition to your landscape.

How Much Mulch Do You Need?

Of course, the process of mulching is also important. Even if you have the best mulch in the world, if it’s not installed properly, you may still not reap the full benefits.

We’re not saying it’s rocket science, but for the most part, we do find that people (and even some “pros”) tend to over-mulch. While mulch is certainly a wonderful addition to your plant beds, it is possible to over-apply it. Homeowners should know that there is a “sweet spot” in terms of how much mulch your plant beds need.
Applying mulch at the proper thickness
The biggest problem with over-mulching is that it will fail to decompose over time as it's meant to do. In fact, each time that you refresh the mulch, you’re just going to keep piling it on. As the mulch becomes excessive, it can start to cause problems. It can attract insects which is the last thing that you want near the foundation of your home. It can also create a moist environment that is ripe for fungal growth.

On the other hand, you also don’t want to under-apply mulch. Aggressive weeds are typically strong enough to break through a thin layer of mulch. Plus, too-little mulch won’t serve as a good insulator, like it's meant to.

Choosing a Landscaper Who Will Use the Best Mulch and the Best Practices

As we mentioned early on, we know that mulching isn’t rocket science and we’re not trying to make it out to be. But it’s a really important service that can definitely have an impact on your property. Your choice in not only the best material but also a landscaper who will perform the mulching service properly is important.

There’s a difference that you can see when mulching is performed well.

In the end, getting the best results will come down to not only using the best mulch but also a professional landscaper in Northern Virginia who is going to be committed to doing quality work. By making a wise choice in mulching services, you’ll ensure that your landscape beds look fantastic and perform optimally, too.

While you might pay a little bit more than taking a DIY approach or using a landscape contractor who doesn’t invest in the best products, that extra investment will pay off with superior results.

If you’re ready to get landscaped beds that you’re truly proud of at your South Riding, Ashburn, or Leesburg, VA home, talk to an expert, choose a solution that rocks, and get ready to enjoy your property to the fullest.

Request a Consultation

Get Started Today

About The Author

Todd Thomasson
Todd Thomasson

Todd Thomasson, founded Rock Water Farm Landscapes & Hardscapes in 2005. Having grown up with hard working parent role models and a strong work ethic, Todd put his Landscape & Turf Management degree from Virginia Tech into action as the lead stone mason and landscape designer for the new company. Over the years, the responsibility and opportunity of running this company has been shared with other members of the Rock Water Farm team, launching one of the leading property maintenance companies in Loudoun County. Todd is still rooted in his passion for design/build projects and continues to run the company, working with clients to design, build and maintain perfect outdoor spaces with his team.