Best way to mulch yard?

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Best way to mulch yard?

Postby Tigermoose » Fri Mar 15, 2013 9:14 pm

In the past, I have just made a couple trips to Lowes and loaded up with some bags of Scott's mulch at $5 per 2 cu ft . This probably cost me around $100-$120 total . It seems like there should be a better option. Any ideas?

Limitations: I don't have a pickup truck. I do have a Honda CRV, so I guess I could put down a tarp in the back of that and fill it up with some mulch.
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Re: Best way to mulch yard?

Postby livesoft » Fri Mar 15, 2013 9:20 pm

Folks around here order few cubic yards and dump truck delivers. They also do not mulch their grass, but they mulch their landscaping beds. They get their lawn folks or teenagers to move the dumped pile of mulch to its final resting place.

What do your neighbors do?

We just rake/sweep the pine needles into the beds and do not mulch.
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Re: Best way to mulch yard?

Postby pennstater2005 » Fri Mar 15, 2013 9:23 pm

livesoft wrote:Folks around here order few cubic yards and dump truck delivers. They also do not mulch their grass, but they mulch their landscaping beds. They get their lawn folks or teenagers to move the dumped pile of mulch to its final resting place.

What do your neighbors do?

We just rake/sweep the pine needles into the beds and do not mulch.


You could even have a landscaper who delivers mulch come out and give you an idea of how much you actually need. I've done that. That way you ensure you don't end up with a giant pile of leftover mulch. Make sure you get the double ground mulch too. Looks nicer, I think :happy
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Re: Best way to mulch yard?

Postby Toons » Fri Mar 15, 2013 9:31 pm

Tigermoose wrote:In the past, I have just made a couple trips to Lowes and loaded up with some bags of Scott's mulch at $5 per 2 cu ft . This probably cost me around $100-$120 total . It seems like there should be a better option. Any ideas?

Limitations: I don't have a pickup truck. I do have a Honda CRV, so I guess I could put down a tarp in the back of that and fill it up with some mulch.
l


Go to Wal-Mart guarantee you will find prices more reasonalbe,I have a CRV also and I will be using it soon to pick up bags of mulch.
On a side note we stopped by Lowes today to check out plants and such then took a ride to Wal-Mart where we like to shop,prices on comparable items were 20% less expensive 8-)
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Re: Best way to mulch yard?

Postby Bacchus01 » Fri Mar 15, 2013 11:14 pm

I buy it by the yard, but I have a lot of beds.

The first year we moved in the previous owner had not kept it up.

We ordered and spread TWENTY-FIVE YARDS of mulch in about 4-5 hours.

Last year we only had to do 18, and this year I'll probably do just 10-12.

I pay around $30/yd delivered.
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Re: Best way to mulch yard?

Postby RebusCannébus » Fri Mar 15, 2013 11:17 pm

I buy shredded redwood bark (aka "gorilla hair") at the local landscape supply. I can get a full yard in my small pickup. If I need 5 or more, I have them deliver. The prices at landscape supply joints are maybe, what, 1/8 of what you'd pay by the bag at HomeLoweWal.
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Re: Best way to mulch yard?

Postby mhc » Fri Mar 15, 2013 11:47 pm

My city gives away free mulch. The city shreds Christmas trees and then gives it away. May not be the prettiest mulch, but the price is right.

You may want to check with your city.

Make friends with someone who has a pickup truck. Have him haul the mulch, help spread it, then cook him and his family some steaks. Make a day of it.
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Re: Best way to mulch yard?

Postby sdrone » Sat Mar 16, 2013 12:32 am

This is the Bogleheads forum, so let's get this out there. If you're the type to watch your expense ratios, then you shouldn't be the type to buy Scott's mulch.

1. Decide what you want to do with the mulch. Is it for looks? Is it for soil amendment? Is it for mixing with other things to grow stuff in?

2. Looks? Get whatever you want. Decide if you want to stay organic, or you really don't care if there are dyes, etc. Decide on the size - big wood chips? Something medium like pine bark mulch? Something that looks natural like dirt? What about scent? Cypress mulch is popular but you can always smell it.

3. Amendment? Decide what amendment you want/need. CHECK YOUR INGREDIENTS. Yes, mulch is cheaper at Walmart. Sometimes that's good, and sometimes there's a reason. There are sometimes sand or topsoil or sawmill byproducts or other odd things mixed in. You can check peat (not peat moss) at 3 different stores and find 3 different sets of ingredients.

4. Mulch appropriately. You shouldn't need to mulch each year. If you are, take the time to figure out what's happening to your mulch. Mulch layer is too thin? Water or rain can gradually wash it away over a summer. Is your mulched area in a watershed? Your mulch might be washed into the neighboorhood sewer drain every year. Organic mulch on top of very soft, loose soil? Your mulch could be decaying rapidly.

Start with 2 or 3 inches, and see what happens. Next spring, head out there with a pitch fork or something and turn/stir the mulch a bit.

I like a dark, natural mulch. It looks somewhat like wet dirt, and adds to the soil as it decays over the years. Both Home Depot and Lowes usually have a "shredded hardwood" or "shredded hardwood bark" mulch. It's dark, relatively fine, and organic. At Home Depots in Chicagoland, it's often called "Black Forest Mulch." I'll buy 6 bags at a time in the car, or 10 bags at a time in the SUV.

I live in Chicagoland; most places I find that deliver in bulk mainly carry mulches that are for looks and not the amendment type I usually use. I did find one that had shredded leaf mulch (which is supposed to be exellent) but it was relatively far away. You can't touch most stuff for under $60 delivered. One trick I use is to ask a local yard mowing crew. I do my own yard, but the local crew I talk to delivers mulch and puts it where you want it for the same price as most places dump it in your driveway.
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Re: Best way to mulch yard?

Postby kitteh » Sat Mar 16, 2013 4:42 am

livesoft wrote:Folks around here order few cubic yards and dump truck delivers. They also do not mulch their grass, but they mulch their landscaping beds. They get their lawn folks or teenagers to move the dumped pile of mulch to its final resting place.

What do your neighbors do?

We just rake/sweep the pine needles into the beds and do not mulch.


I wish there were teenagers who hired out where I live. I thought they were an extinct species.

When I lived where I had large deciduous trees in my yard and my neighbor had some overhanging Monterey pines, I also just raked the leaves and needles into my flower and vegetable gardens as a mulch.

Now each year I order a large box of (compressed for shipping) standard pinestraw from pinestraw.com. This is more expensive, but a giant box of arrives in my yard without my lifting a finger, and I know what I'm getting. Some of the stuff sold as "mulch" by the big boxes looks like they swept it off the street.
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Re: Best way to mulch yard?

Postby cleosdad » Sat Mar 16, 2013 11:28 am

Tigermoose wrote:In the past, I have just made a couple trips to Lowes and loaded up with some bags of Scott's mulch at $5 per 2 cu ft . This probably cost me around $100-$120 total . It seems like there should be a better option. Any ideas?

Limitations: I don't have a pickup truck. I do have a Honda CRV, so I guess I could put down a tarp in the back of that and fill it up with some mulch.

Tigermoose, Here in Denver my local landscape yard lets me pull up to the bin and fill my own lawn bags with fresh mulch. Six 36 gallon bags equal 1 yard @ $32 dollars. I put them in our suv and carry them to any spot I need. I used to do the same thing in St.Louis. Spring is right around the corner. Tim
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Re: Best way to mulch yard?

Postby Epsilon Delta » Sat Mar 16, 2013 7:30 pm

I prefer using 18 gallon plastic totes or garbage cans for carrying bulk mulch. This keeps the car much cleaner than lining the back with a tarp. It also saves effort handling it since I only have to shovel the mulch once, any further handling is simply moving a tote.
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Re: Best way to mulch yard?

Postby scouter » Sat Mar 16, 2013 8:03 pm

We have to mulch in spring and fall, and we prefer pine straw. Comes in bales like straw, so it's easy to move around, easy to spread. I borrow a pickup and buy about 40 bales, if I only need a few for touch-up, I can put a tarp in the minivan.
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Re: Best way to mulch yard?

Postby reggiesimpson » Sun Mar 17, 2013 10:55 am

If you are using mulch to keep the weeds down it wont work. Use Treflan early in the spring (stops germinating) and then do not disturb the soil or you will break the "seal".
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Re: Best way to mulch yard?

Postby Jerilynn » Sun Mar 17, 2013 11:40 am

Tigermoose wrote:In the past, I have just made a couple trips to Lowes and loaded up with some bags of Scott's mulch at $5 per 2 cu ft . This probably cost me around $100-$120 total . It seems like there should be a better option. Any ideas?

Limitations: I don't have a pickup truck. I do have a Honda CRV, so I guess I could put down a tarp in the back of that and fill it up with some mulch.


When you say 'yard', does that mean just your landscaping or your lawn, also?

In any event, the best mulch is a good quality compost. For your lawn, a 1/4 inch top dressing a few times per year works wonders. For your 'beds', 3-4-5 inches is about right.

You can use compost as mulch, but you can't use mulch as compost.

If you need help locating a good quality compost in your area, let me know, I have some 'connections' via the Master Gardener's Program.


Here is a snip From Wash St Univ

http://whatcom.wsu.edu/ag/compost/funda ... nefits.htm

Using compost as mulch, in the soil or as potting media is beneficial in many ways.

Compost contains a full spectrum of essential plant nutrients. You can test the nutrient levels in your compost and soil to find out what other supplements it may need for specific plants.

Compost contains macro and micronutrients often absent in synthetic fertilizers.
Compost releases nutrients slowly—over months or years, unlike synthetic fertilizers
Compost enriched soil retains fertilizers better. Less fertilizer runs off to pollute waterways.
Compost buffers the soil, neutralizing both acid & alkaline soils, bringing pH levels to the optimum range for nutrient availability to plants.
Compost helps bind clusters of soil particles, called aggregates, which provide good soil structure. Such soil is full of tiny air channels & pores that hold air, moisture and nutrients.

Compost helps sandy soil retain water and nutrients.
Compost loosens tightly bound particles in clay or silt soil so roots can spread, water drain & air penetrate.
Compost alters soil structure, making it less likely to erode, and prevents soil spattering on plants—spreading disease.
Compost can hold nutrients tight enough to prevent them from washing out, but loosely enough so plants can take them up as needed.
Compost makes any soil easier to work.
Compost brings and feeds diverse life in the soil. These bacteria, fungi, insects, worms and more support healthy plant growth.

Compost bacteria break down organics into plant available nutrients. Some bacteria convert nitrogen from the .....
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Re: Best way to mulch yard?

Postby Jerilynn » Sun Mar 17, 2013 11:43 am

Toons wrote:
Tigermoose wrote:In the past, I have just made a couple trips to Lowes and loaded up with some bags of Scott's mulch at $5 per 2 cu ft . This probably cost me around $100-$120 total . It seems like there should be a better option. Any ideas?

Limitations: I don't have a pickup truck. I do have a Honda CRV, so I guess I could put down a tarp in the back of that and fill it up with some mulch.
l


Go to Wal-Mart guarantee you will find prices more reasonalbe,I have a CRV also and I will be using it soon to pick up bags of mulch.
On a side note we stopped by Lowes today to check out plants and such then took a ride to Wal-Mart where we like to shop,prices on comparable items were 20% less expensive 8-)



The compost at the big box stores is normally garbage. Mulch, on the other hand, can be acceptable.

If there is a 'tree-trimming' biz in your area, often times those guys will sell pretty good quality compost or mulch at reasonable prices and many will deliver!
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Re: Best way to mulch yard?

Postby Saving$ » Sun Mar 17, 2013 11:47 am

I prefer hardwood mulches. Buy the bags for under $1.50 each when on sale, using Lowe's or HD coupons.

Several years ago, I saw a landscape company (did not get their name) applying hardwood mulch through a sprayer, mixed with a "tackifier." This causes the mulch to form a mat, and it does not float off when it rains. It also requires less mulch, and the mulch lasts longer. I would love to find the do it yourself version of this. Does anyone know about this?
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Re: Best way to mulch yard?

Postby Jerilynn » Sun Mar 17, 2013 11:53 am

Here in Denver my local landscape yard lets me pull up to the bin and fill my own lawn bags with fresh mulch. Six 36 gallon bags equal 1 yard @ $32 dollars. I put them in our suv and carry them to any spot I need. I used to do the same thing in St.Louis. Spring is right around the corner. Tim


Sometimes 'fresh' mulch will suck the N out of the soil, so be careful with that. What kind of mulch are you getting (what species of tree and is it bark only or the entire tree chopped up). Also some of the local people who sell mulch get it from overgrowth around highways, utility poles, etc. Those sources can contain TONS of weed seeds, and also contain active plant pathogens ('bad' bacteria, fungi or viruses).
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Re: Best way to mulch yard?

Postby Jerilynn » Sun Mar 17, 2013 11:56 am

scouter wrote:We have to mulch in spring and fall, and we prefer pine straw. Comes in bales like straw, so it's easy to move around, easy to spread. I borrow a pickup and buy about 40 bales, if I only need a few for touch-up, I can put a tarp in the minivan.


Pine straw is ok. It can acidify the soil, so you need to get a soil test before you use it and then again several months after, but it lasts long (breaks down slowly because of the wax coating on the needles). And if you like the looks of it, great!
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Re: Best way to mulch yard?

Postby Jerilynn » Sun Mar 17, 2013 12:00 pm

reggiesimpson wrote:If you are using mulch to keep the weeds down it wont work. Use Treflan early in the spring (stops germinating) and then do not disturb the soil or you will break the "seal".


If you are using good compost (with or without mulch) and it's thick enough, you don't need to spend money on any pre-emergent. (I'm talking about landscaping/flower/vegetable beds, not LAWNS. Lawns (what we call turf management) is an entirely different ball game and often times (at least in the first few seasons, may need a pre-emergent)
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Re: Best way to mulch yard?

Postby reggiesimpson » Sun Mar 17, 2013 12:37 pm

Jerilynn wrote:
reggiesimpson wrote:If you are using mulch to keep the weeds down it wont work. Use Treflan early in the spring (stops germinating) and then do not disturb the soil or you will break the "seal".


If you are using good compost (with or without mulch) and it's thick enough, you don't need to spend money on any pre-emergent. (I'm talking about landscaping/flower/vegetable beds, not LAWNS. Lawns (what we call turf management) is an entirely different ball game and often times (at least in the first few seasons, may need a pre-emergent)

Hmmmmm? I respectfully disagree. Those weed seeds always show up no matter how thick the mulch is.
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Re: Best way to mulch yard?

Postby Sam I Am » Sun Mar 17, 2013 12:47 pm

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Re: Best way to mulch yard?

Postby Mudpuppy » Sun Mar 17, 2013 3:43 pm

reggiesimpson wrote:
Jerilynn wrote:
reggiesimpson wrote:If you are using mulch to keep the weeds down it wont work. Use Treflan early in the spring (stops germinating) and then do not disturb the soil or you will break the "seal".


If you are using good compost (with or without mulch) and it's thick enough, you don't need to spend money on any pre-emergent. (I'm talking about landscaping/flower/vegetable beds, not LAWNS. Lawns (what we call turf management) is an entirely different ball game and often times (at least in the first few seasons, may need a pre-emergent)

Hmmmmm? I respectfully disagree. Those weed seeds always show up no matter how thick the mulch is.

The weeds might sprout in the layer of mulch, but it's a whole lot easier to pull them up out of nice loose mulch than it is out of the ground. Then again, people around here refer to our soil around here as "concrete" and I've only been mixing compost in for a few years, so perhaps my experience will be different once the base soil gets to a more loamy state.

My biggest mulching problem is a planter bed that the previous owner filled in right up to sidewalk/lawn level with aforementioned "concrete" soil and then planted with several pittosporum shrubs. I just can't bring myself to sacrifice the shrubs in order to dig that border down a little so it can be properly amended and mulched, even though there is a constant weed issue in the areas not covered by the shrubs. I tried digging around the shrubs last year to mix in compost in those areas, and then got a bermuda grass invasion in the turned over areas (the lawn is bermuda).

The previous owner was also a big fan of large cedar chip mulch. I am still finding non-decomposed large cedar chips when I plant things, even though it's been years since any was laid down. The first couple of years here, I cursed the large cedar chips between my driveway and the neighbor's driveway because every time I planted a shrub, I'd walk away with a dozen or more splinters that worked their way through my leather gardening gloves into my hands. The previous owner "helpfully" left 2 cubic feet of the mulch in the garage in case I wanted to "touch up". That was trashed rather quickly after I noticed the splinter issue when working with borders that used the mulch. So that's just my word of caution about hardwood mulch.
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Re: Best way to mulch yard?

Postby cleosdad » Mon Mar 18, 2013 11:21 am

Jerilynn wrote:
Here in Denver my local landscape yard lets me pull up to the bin and fill my own lawn bags with fresh mulch. Six 36 gallon bags equal 1 yard @ $32 dollars. I put them in our suv and carry them to any spot I need. I used to do the same thing in St.Louis. Spring is right around the corner. Tim


Sometimes 'fresh' mulch will suck the N out of the soil, so be careful with that. What kind of mulch are you getting (what species of tree and is it bark only or the entire tree chopped up). Also some of the local people who sell mulch get it from overgrowth around highways, utility poles, etc. Those sources can contain TONS of weed seeds, and also contain active plant pathogens ('bad' bacteria, fungi or viruses).

No this (fresh) mulch means mulch not sitting/rotting in plastic bags. This is ground/triple ground cedar mulch that I as a retired landscaper and current landscapers use all the time and does not contain all the above. The only reason I use bags is because I sold my trucks but have rented from Home Depot for larger loads.
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Re: Best way to mulch yard?

Postby bottomfisher » Mon Mar 18, 2013 2:28 pm

I prefer pine straw for garden mulch. I've also heard it can acidify the soil as noted above. But I haven't had any problems with this. It is my experience that pine straw has been more effective than cypress mulch in keeping weed growth down. It rains frequently in the summer in south Louisiana and the cypress mulch traps too much water and the retained moisture allows my creeping type lawn grass to take hold more readily in the garden beds.
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Re: Best way to mulch yard?

Postby Rupert » Mon Mar 18, 2013 2:50 pm

I use either pine straw bought in bales from Lowes ($2-5 a bale, depending on what season you buy it) or fallen oak tree leaves from the oak trees on my property. I generally use the pine straw in my front beds because I prefer the look of it. It forms a nice mat after it's been rained on a few times. In the fall, I just add another thin layer on top because I prefer the reddish color of new straw to the grayish color of the old stuff.
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Re: Best way to mulch yard?

Postby scooter » Mon Mar 18, 2013 4:56 pm

For years I bought bags of mulch and placed them in the area I needed them, opened them and only need to shovel it once. I planted more and more perennials and now I have little areas that are not covered.

For those areas I use a special weeding tool that has a blade at 45 degrees and 10 mins a week does the trick.
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Re: Best way to mulch yard?

Postby bengal22 » Mon Mar 18, 2013 5:18 pm

I buy mulch by the yard as well. Usually 4 yards and you get free delivery. They dump in my driveway and about 3 hours later my beds are mulched. Use a pitch fork to pick the mulch up and put in wheel barrel. Use a rake to spread it around. Easy and it runs about 29 bucks a yard.
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