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Important Steps to Consider Before Mulching

Choosing colored mulch for your next project is a great way to add beauty to your landscape design while improving the health of your soil and plants. But you can’t just throw some mulch down and expect everything to be perfect! To get the best results, you need to take a little time to prepare your mulch beds properly. Here’s how to do it, plus some tips on how to take care of your mulch once it’s installed.

How to prepare mulch beds:

1. Kill and remove weeds

This is an important step because just as mulch can help improve the health of your soil, it can also help weeds grow stronger if they’re not removed. So, make sure you pull up and remove any visible weeds prior to putting down your mulch. You can also use an herbicide (chemical weed-killer) or natural weed-killing methods (using newspaper, vinegar, etc.) to make the job easier. But if you do use a chemical herbicide, just be sure to do it at least two weeks before mulching so the weeds can die completely.

2. Trim nearby trees and bushes

Trees and bushes are an essential part of many landscape designs. But they also drop seeds and create debris like sticks and leaves. Before you prepare your mulch beds, tackle the surrounding greenery and trim any trees or bushes that could create unwanted debris.

3. Rake your mulch bed

To prepare the soil of your mulch bed, use a rake to remove any organic material like leaves, seeds or sticks. This will also help get rid of any debris that was created when you trimmed your trees and bushes.

4. Cultivate the soil

Once the mulch beds are clean and tidy, it’s time to cultivate the soil. Use a hand-operated cultivator or a more powerful rototiller to turn over the soil. This will help strengthen the health of your mulch beds by allowing air and moisture to get into the soil more easily.

5. Edge your mulch bed

This is more about aesthetics than it is the health of your plants and soil. But using a shovel or power edger to create a clear, defined boundary for your mulch bed will really help your overall landscape design pop.

6. Smooth out your mulch bed

Another important step in making your landscaping look its best is to smooth out the soil in your mulch bed using a rake or some other garden tool. This will help prevent your mulch from looking lumpy or uneven once installed.

7. Treat your mulch bed

To help ensure all your hard work preparing your mulch bed doesn’t go to waste, use a pre-emergent to treat the desired area. Weeds can leave tiny seeds that may survive your first attempt to de-weed the mulch bed. A pre-emergent herbicide will stop those seeds from germinating, preventing weeds from growing beneath the mulch surface and stealing precious nutrients from your soil.

8. Start mulching!

Once you’ve completed all of these steps, you’re finally ready to start mulching. To figure out how much mulch you'll need, multiply your total area (in feet) by how deep you want your mulch (in inches). For example, if your square footage is 648 and you want a 2-inch depth, multiply 648 by 2 to get 1296 (648 x 2 = 1296). Then divide your answer by 324 (1 cubic yard of mulch will cover 324 square feet with 1 inch of mulch) to figure out how many cubic yards of mulch to order. The formula is as follows: total square footage x desired depth (inches) ÷ 324 = total cubic yards needed.

For in-depth answers about mulching or any other of your landscaping questions, contact us at 443-846-0199 or

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