Tips and Frequently Asked Questions
How do I decide which mulch is best for me?
First decide what is most important to you. Consider price, soil amendment, decomposition rate, and color longevity. Unfortunately I do not know of a single mulch that will "do it all". Any mulch you choose from us will look great when spread in your landscape, retain moisture and help to reduce new weed growth, but they work for you in different ways. The Oak Bark Mulches and Compost might be considered "best" for soil amendment reasons (meaning they are the best choice for your plants) but they'll need to be replaced sooner than some other materials. The Triple Processed Hardwood Mulch is the best regarding price and we would recommend it for use in large open areas where there are not necessarily a lot of small plantings. It will be longer lasting than the Bark Mulches, but loses the dark color sooner. Hardwood (whole log, not just the bark) Mulches leach nitrogen away from your plants for about the first year they’re down... (if used in a new planting area it is best to remember to feed your plants with fertilizer.) The Color Enhanced Mulches are best for color retention. They look sharp all season long and are slow to decompose, but are not as good as bark for soil amendment. Cedar Mulch could be best for you because of its color, aroma, extreme slow rate of decomposition and... bugs don't like it, but it lacks soil amendment qualities. Play Mat Mulch is best for use in play ground areas and walkways, but would tend to move around too easily in landscape beds.
How deep should I mulch my beds?
To provide good moisture retention and help prevent new weed germination and growth, a total depth of 3” inches of mulch is desired… (combination of old mulch and new). New beds or beds where the old mulch has decomposed away should receive 3 inches. If you mulch annually with an excellent mulch that decomposes rather quickly (such as one of our “Bark” products) a depth of 2 inches is sufficient. Refer to our calculator to determine your cubic yard requirement.
When should I mulch?
While there is no bad time to mulch, there are things to consider. Early spring is the easiest time to mulch. The ground is soft making for easier spade edging of the beds and most perennials have yet to emerge so you can spread the mulch over the top and the perennials will come right up through. Although early spring provides for an easier time of mulching you may wish to delay your project until certain trees and shrubs have blossomed and/or dropped their seeds. (Remember to clean out maple seeds prior to mulching… if you don’t you will have hundreds of baby maple trees growing in your beds come summer!) Some gardeners wait to mulch until they have trimmed their shrubs in late spring or early summer. If you delay till then you can do a less thorough job of cleaning out the clippings as you can simply mulch over the top of the small clippings left behind during cleanup.
How should I mulch around my plantings?
It is important to note that mulch either in bags or bulk is hot. Organic material when piled produces heat as decomposition is occurring. If you spread this higher temperature mulch up against a young plant you stand the risk of scalding or killing it. When mulching around young plants or plants with leaves touching the surface of the mulch it is especially important to cool down the mulch by applying water.
How should I mulch around a tree?
Do not pile the mulch up the trunk. Covering the bark of the tree will rot away the tree's bark allowing for easier insect penetration and disease. It is best to mulch just a few inches deep right at ground level and make an appropriate ring to the size of the tree.
Why do I have fungus in my mulch?
Hardwood mulches provide an excellent growing environment not only for your plants, but molds and fungus as well. On occasion, particularly in the heat of the summer a fungus may appear in your landscape. In our area there are two types of typical fungi. One is referred to as "Slime Mold”, the other is “Artillery Fungus. If you encounter Slime Mold, it is best to scoop it up, throw it in the garbage, and rinse down the area. It is not harmful... just ugly. The Artillery Fungus can be more of a pest as it shoots a "tar like" small sticky black projectile at bright objects. This fungus develops in hardwood mulch beds that are subject to rabbit or deer droppings. It has been found that blending in mushroom compost with your hardwood mulch helps keep Artillery fungus in check.
Why do the "other guys" charge so much less for their premium hardwood?
When we first started in this business (1996) whenever someone said they wanted or sold Premium Hardwood they were referring to shredded Oak Bark mulch. Still today when a landscaping contractor pulls into our yard to pick up material and asks for “premium” everyone understands what he is purchasing (our triple processed Premium Oak Bark Mulch). Since our opening several area retailers have set up shop and started representing a counterfeit “premium”. They call a mixed hardwood (wood mulch not Oak Bark, made from local tree trimmings) a “premium hardwood dark mulch” or “triple processed premium hardwood” or "premium brown" hoping to slip it past the uninformed consumer. Often they do. Simply stated, if it isn’t Oak Bark mulch it isn’t premium… its counterfeit. We offer a lower grade hardwood, and we call it what it is and we do not call it premium.
Our Premium Oak Bark Mulch originates from large saw mills located along rivers in southern states. The oak logs are brought in to be milled, and the first step of the milling process is to debark the logs. This material is then shredded, loaded into barges and shipped up the river systems into Ottawa IL. It then is off loaded, aged and shipped into our facility. The transportation costs involved in bringing this product to our area is what drives the price. There is a difference when it comes to mulch quality. Ours is the best.