The sweet gum tree's star-shaped leaves turn a mix of colors in the fall, making it a favorite for New York landscape designer Jan Johnsen. Sometimes the same tree can have red, purple, yellow and orange leaves, at the same time.
Don't forget about hidden nooks, such as this spot with a mossy garden gnome. For choosing materials, medium-textured mulch is best because fine particles will pack down and retain moisture, which evaporates before reaching plant roots, according to The Morton Arboretum in Illinois.
The recommended mulch depth is 3-4 inches for medium to coarse textured materials, says experts with The Morton Arboretum. Spread mulch under trees, shrubs and throughout planting beds, as seen at this home, handcrafted by OakBridge Timber Framing, on a 5-acre lot on the shores of Lake Erie, Ohio.
Think about tree safety. "My magnolia in the front of the house has been pruned up, so I put a mulch island under it," says Josh Fuder, agriculture and natural resources agent for UGA Extension - Cherokee County. He suggests getting the mulch island as close to the drip line as possible. This example does not go all the way out to the drip line, but with a diameter of 21 inches, it is a little more in proportion with the size of the tree.
A long-lasting organic mulch option is pine bark or shredded bark, according to experts at The Morton Arboretum in Illinois. You can purchase bags of small or large chips. Other types of organic mulch are grass clippings, as well as animal manure (mixed with a coarse-textured material). Composted leaf litter will work, but it may increase weeds if not thoroughly composted.
Too much mulch can be harmful. The Morton Arboretum says that excessive mulch mounded around the base of a tree can cause decay of the vital tissue at the root collar. When decay occurs, serious disease organisms may more readily enter the plant. Mulch is correctly applied around this tree.
Pull mulch away from the bases of tree, creating a donut-hole affect, advises The Morton Arboretum in Illinois. The mulched area should extend to the drip line of the tree branches, or at least cover a 4-5 foot diameter area around the trunk.
Mulching can be a big task in the fall, if you have multiple garden beds. Here's a tip from The Morton Arboretum in Illinois: Organic mulch should be composted or otherwise treated before use. The step kills insects, weed seeds and disease microorganisms. The texture of composted mulch generally is more uniform, creating better curb appeal.
Here's a general rule for when to mulch a yard: Wait until after a hard frost in the fall to apply winter mulch. You don't want to apply it too early in the fall because mulch can delay the soil freezing process by retaining heat in the soil, according to experts with The Morton Arboretum in Illinois.
When mulch is placed right next to the tree base, you can see the ill effects of the mulch on the trunk, says Josh Fuder, agriculture and natural resources agent for UGA Extension - Cherokee County. Too much moisture will gather around the base and the bark can decay.
For a cheap and possibly free source of mulch material, ask local tree service for wood chips, says Josh Fuder, agriculture and natural resources agent for UGA Extension-Cherokee County. If chips are not composted, The Morton Arboretum in Illinois suggests applying a nitrogen fertilizer at a rate of a half pound per 100 square feet of chips.
Landscape glass is a type of recycled glass that’s bright and colorful. It’s a permanent mulch that doesn’t break down. Install glass mulch over high quality (commercial grade) landscape fabric so it doesn’t sink into soil. The glass is tumbled to remove sharp edges, but it does pose a threat to soft-bodied critters like slugs. Glass mulch is popular in xeriscape garden designs.
This beautiful home features a tasteful and timeless design. Black roof shingles add texture to the gray siding. A small stone stairway leads through the neatly mulched garden from the the sidewalk to the driveway.
Arranging plants tightly not only creates a full design, it also helps to shade soil. Plants that grow shoulder to shoulder act like living mulch, helping to suppress weeds and slow water evaporation from soil.
This 1600-square-foot home in East Austin, TX combines gray wood siding with a medium brown stained wood to create a contemporary exterior. A blend of natural stone and mulch provide groundcover, while long horizontal windows show off a sneak peek of the home's interior design.
A paver pathway leads out into the backyard to a sitting area that looks back over a reflective pond. Along the way a sunken fireside patio is separated from the pathway using natural stone steps. Mulched garden areas surround the patio sections giving natural life and color to the design.
A paver patio section is surrounded with boulders and bright plant life for a gorgeous mix of texture to naturally decorate the space. A stone fire pit is surrounded by brown adirondack chairs on the paver patio. A fountain blends into the mulched area creating a subtle extra in the design.