Mulch is material that landscapers or property owners place over the soil to prevent weed germination and protect plants. It’s essential in Florida landscaping because it keeps the soil moist, helping desired plants thrive.

Mulch helps lawns and gardens appear more attractive. The curb appeal of dyed mulch in a vibrant color or a rich brown mulch can be stunning when used with flowers with bright blooms. Another benefit of mulch is that it can reduce soil erosion and improve soil enrichment and soil temperature regulation.

Mulch Materials

Organic mulch materials include grass clippings, fallen leaves, pine straw, tree bark and wood chips. Inorganic mulch options include newspaper, rubber mulch and stones. Choosing mulch for your Florida landscape depends on your preference and what works best for where you live.

Characteristics of Organic Mulches

Grass clippings and leaves are economical and can improve soil; however, they may contain unwanted weed seeds. Wood chips and shredded wood decompose slowly. Wood mulch is a good choice when you need a long-lasting, attractive solution that nourishes the soil. 

Some experts discourage using cypress mulch because of the environmental impacts of harvesting cypress trees from wetlands. However, eucalyptus mulch is a sustainable alternative. Pine needles can improve soil, increase soil acidity and last 1-2 years. Tree bark such as pine bark is naturally beautiful, helps reduce soil compaction and is less likely to blow away.

Characteristics of Inorganic Mulches

Newspaper works well as a temporary weed preventer but needs weight to prevent it from blowing away. More permanent options exist for those seeking long-lasting mulch. Rubber mulch insulates the soil and doesn’t decompose, making it maintenance-free. Stone mulch such as lava rock or river rock adds an ornamental flair to gardens and lasts indefinitely.

You can purchase mulch at a home improvement store or landscaping supplier. You can also contact local utility companies that might offer mulch from ground-up trees or wood products.

How to Apply Mulch

When applying mulch to beds, spread the mulch layer evenly rather than piling it. Piles of mulch can lead to excessive moisture in areas, breeding fungus. Excess moisture may also cause plant roots to rot. Proper mulching techniques can help keep your plant root systems healthy. If you have any concerns or need any help, contact Coconut Grove Landscape Design for expert advice. 

Applying Mulch Around Trees

Take care when placing mulch around trees and shrubs. It’s common to see “volcano” mulch piled around tree trunks, with the shape resembling a spewing volcano. But like using too much mulch in a flower bed, volcano mulching can cause fungus and rot to affect the plants. The best way to apply mulch around trees and shrubs is to leave a circular space between 12-18 inches around the plants. 

Applying Mulch in Flower Beds

Apply mulch 2-3 inches thick to prevent weed growth in the garden or planting beds. Make sure the mulch is 1-2 inches away from the base of bedding plants.

Experts recommend adding mulch to your Florida landscape in the spring. Once you establish your garden and place the mulch, you can add more to keep it looking fresh and neat.