Spring Gardening Guide to Mulch

Posted on 01/27/13 No Comments


Cary, NC – We may have had an ice storm last Friday, but it will be 75° F this week. Spring is around the corner in the Triangle. First item of business in the garden for 2013: Know Your Mulch.

Kill Garden Pests

When I started thinking about the reasons to love mulch in garden beds, the number one benefit is killing off garden pests.

Bugs, spores, weeds and a whole host of garden nastiness find shelter in old leaves and straw.

You can eliminate many of the pests from your garden right now by raking off the debris in garden beds and replacing it with fresh mulch.

Regulate Garden Temperature

Mulch has the fantastic property of keeping garden beds warm in the winter and cool in the summer.

From that standpoint, mulch is the number one way to save money in your garden. It protects your investment in valuable plants and saves money on water during the heat of the summer.


Not to be overlooked, a fresh bed of mulch beautifies your garden, lending a finished look to your flowers, trees and shrubs.

When to Mulch

We generally recommend mulching twice a year – spring and fall.

Good quality mulch lasts for months with zero maintenance.

Types of Mulch

Finally, let’s talk about some different types of mulch.

Pine Straw

Up in New Jersey and Connecticut, folks don’t use pine straw . But it’s the most popular type of mulch in the South.

Pins straw is inexpensive, very uniform in appearance provides good protection for plants and shrubs.

Pine Bark Nuggets

Some people don’t like the look of pine straw. Pine bark nuggets provide a more formal look for garden beds.

Hardwood Mulch

After pine straw, hardwood mulches are the most popular choice. Garden stores and landscapers sell a wide variety of hardwood mulches.

Hardwood mulch gives excellent garden protection, smothers weeds, retains moisture and makes a neat appearance. Over time, hardwood mulch decomposes into the soil, adding a small amount of nutrients to the soil. Pine straw mulch doesn’t readily decompose and can add acid to garden beds.

Types of Hardwood Mulch

Sometimes, it seems like there are as many hardwood mulches as types of cereal at the supermarket. Here’s a rundown of the major types of hardwood mulches we spread on garden beds in the Triangle throughout the spring season.

Hardwood Chips – Mixed hardwoods made into small pieces the size of potato chips. Good for formal garden beds.

Double Shred – Mixed hardwood scraps put through a shredder two times. Good, general purpose mulch.

Triple Shred –  Mixed hardwood scraps put through a shredder three times. Triple shred makes a denser mulch than double shred and is good for an extra neat appearance at the curb or along walkways.

Cedar Mulch – Cedar mulch lasts a long time, provides excellent heat and water protection and has a distinctive reddish-tan tint.

Redwood Mulch – Redwood mulch lasts a very long time, provides excellent protection and has an unmistakable red color.

Which Mulch to Choose

Your garden will be better off in 2013 if you use any of the mulches described up above. So which one to choose?

Pine straw is the most economical. It’s especially good under trees and shrubs. For flower and garden beds, hardwood mulches are the best choice.

You don’t have to use the same type of mulch throughout your garden. Mix and match to achieve the most appealing results without breaking the bank. Give us a call at Green Concepts Landscaping and we’ll make some suggestions.