When you buy a house, it oftentimes comes with a yard. As it happens, one of the selling points of my particular abode was the lush garden that was included in the purchase price. Unfortunately, the property went untended for much of the summer and autumn while we waited to close, and we arrived at our new home to find it looking rather gnarly and overgrown. C’est la vie.
On one hand, this was a pain — neighbors are more neighborly when they don’t have to look at a rough and tumble yard every time they step outside, and yard work isn’t exactly the idyllic activity that back-to-nature guidebooks would have you believe it is. On the other hand, the scrappy lawn and overgrown flora gave me and The Beard the perfect excuse to drop wads of cash at various garden supply shops.
Long story short, that’s how we found ourselves pricing shrubberies, learning about plant food, and placing an order for the delivery of what seemed at the time like a reasonable amount of mulch. The mulch was to arrive in the afternoon of the day following our foray into the land of bushes and trees.
I was pretending to work on various projects on the day in question when I heard the unmistakable sound of a largish truck backing into my driveway. After peeking out of the living room window I came to an inescapable conclusion: Two cubic yards is a lot of mulch…especially when it is sitting smack dab in the middle of one’s driveway.
We chose an organic mulch made of things like bark, wood chips, leaves, pine needles, or grass clippings, but we could have opted for an inorganic mulch made of fabric, plastic, rocks, foil, or ground rubber. According to the Clemson Extension:
Mulching is a very important practice for establishing new plantings, because it helps to conserve moisture in the root ball of the new plant until the roots have grown out into the surrounding soil. The growth rate and health of trees and shrubs increases when there is no competition for water and nutrients from weeds. Mulch also helps to prevent tree trunk injury by mowers and trimmers. Newly planted trees require a circle of mulch 3 to 4 feet in diameter. Maintain this for five years.
Mulch entire beds of shrubs, trees, annuals, herbaceous perennials and ground covers. How often mulch needs to be replenished depends on the mulching material. Grass clippings and leaves decompose very fast and need to be replenished frequently. Inorganic mulches such as gravel and pebbles rarely need replenishing. As the plants grow and fill in the bed areas, less and less mulch is needed.
So there you have it — more than I ever knew (or wanted to know) about mulching before I ended up with a patch of dirt of my very own. I’m off to move the mulch away from my house, as it can act like a landbridge that lets subterranean termites cross areas treated with anti-bug goo. Now if I could only get this $@#$! wheelbarrow assembled before all of my fragrant mulch is spread throughout the neighborhood via the wind, things will be golden.