Mulch serves many purposes in your yard that improve both the aesthetics and the health of your lawn and gardens. One of the most important functions of mulch is preventing weed growth. Weed control is an important step in maintaining a healthy yard, and laying mulch is a beautiful, chemical-free way to stop weeds from sprouting and spreading.
How Can Mulch Control Weeds?
In the most basic terms, mulch controls weeds by suffocating them. Weeds, just like all plants, need sunlight in order to survive. A thick layer of mulch blocks sunlight from being able to reach down to the soil. If seeds from weeds are attempting to germinate under the soil surface, they will require sunlight to do so. As the layer of mulch provides a thick barrier between seeds and sunlight, the seeds will not be able to germinate, meaning weeds will not be able to sprout up through the soil.
While installing a layer (or two) of mulch is a great way to prevent seeds from germinating, mulch also helps prevent seeds from being able to reach the soil in the first place. As wind blows in seeds from other areas of your yard and areas even much further away from your property, the seeds are hoping to land somewhere that has easy and direct access to soil. When you install mulch properly and make sure all areas of the soil are covered, seeds will simply bounce across the barrier of mulch and be forced to find somewhere else to land.
Though many herbicides are safe and effective, some people still prefer to find a chemical-free way to control weeds. When you choose an organic mulch, you are getting the most eco-friendly option for controlling weeds. Certain inorganic mulches are also well suited for weed control, such as rubber pellets, plastics, landscape fabrics, and stones, but they will do little else for your garden beds and other areas of bare soil. We use a dark-colored hardwood mulch to give your yard natural and effective weed protection.
What Type Of Mulch Is Best For Weed Control?
Technically speaking, mulch can be any material that is spread across exposed soil in order to protect it and improve the soil’s health. Organic mulches can be a variety of materials, such as wood chips, hay, straw, leaves, grass, and more. The colorful mulches you are probably used to seeing, including the mulches used by Potomac Lawn Professionals, are hardwood from tree bark and wood chips.
Hardwood mulch is the most beneficial to the exposed soil of garden beds and other areas. It retains moisture, decomposes quickly, regulates soil temperature, and, of course, inhibits the growth of weeds. Other types of organic mulches, and even some inorganic mulches, will have some similar effects, but hardwood mulch is the most popular and effective mulch for preserving your soil and controlling weeds.
Why is it important to prevent weeds?
As weeds grow, they absorb nutrients and moisture from the soil, as well as the added nutrients from fertilizers. Your lawn is forced to compete with weeds for nutrition, and lawns that are already struggling to grow will quickly worsen as weeds become more prevalent. Even healthy turfgrass is at risk of losing out on key nutrients when weeds are present, and those healthy green lawns can quickly start to lose color and strength.
By controlling and preventing weed growth, you are giving your lawn and plants the best chance they have to flourish. Weeds spread their seeds via the wind, which can cause a weed problem to spread and grow out of control very quickly. Every weed that is prevented from growing means fewer seeds being strewn across your yard, resulting in more nutrition for the green things in your yard that you actually care about!
When Should I Install Mulch?
The best time to lay mulch is in spring before weed seedlings begin to sprout. When you choose the mulch installation services of Potomac Lawn Professionals, you will get an expertly applied layer of mulch to kick off the growing season. This initial layer is typically a bit thinner in order to let other plants in your gardens have access to some sunlight. Our goal is to keep your flowers growing without any harmful effects of weeds.
Our program typically includes a mulch touch-up in fall. After your flowers and other plants have had a chance to sprout, we will apply a thicker layer of mulch on top of the existing layer to create the protective barrier that will keep new weed seeds out and prevent existing ones from growing.
Though it is often believed that mulch only needs to be replaced about every five years, there are other factors to consider when using a hardwood mulch that could mean more frequent mulch applications. Hardwood mulch is completely natural and decomposes relatively quickly, which adds additional nutrients to your soil. Depending on environmental factors that lead to decomposition, you may want to have your hardwood mulch replaced or replenished every year. Thankfully, these mulches are affordable and plentiful, and the benefits of hardwood mulch vastly outweigh this slight inconvenience.
Where should you install mulch?
Mulch should be installed wherever your yard has exposed, bare dirt. These areas typically include garden beds, shrubbery beds, and tree rings. In these areas, we will pull out any sprouted weeds before installing mulch. Flowers, shrub crowns, and tree trunks will be carefully minded as mulch is installed in order to make sure your desired plants have room to grow without hindrance from the mulch barrier.
Controlling weeds in garden beds and tree rings helps protect your entire yard. While the areas directly affected by mulch installation will see a drastic decline in weeds, your entire lawn will likely see improved conditions. Seeds blown from weeds in your garden can quickly turn into weeds across your lawn. Less weeds on your property will result in fewer weed seedlings and more nutrients for every inch of your lawn, even if mulch is only applied to certain areas.