Mulching In Northern Virginia

Hall's Landscaping - Angie's List Top Rated Mulching Contractor

Hall's Landscaping is a proud six time Angie's List Super Service Award Winner and the Top Rated Landscaping Contractor in Falls Church and Northern Virginia in the Mulch and Topsoil category. This means nobody does mulching in Falls Church better than us. Mulching is one of the simplest and most beneficial practices you can use in the garden. Mulching not only protects your plants and garden beds from insects and the elements -- mulch also provides a "finished look" to your yard and will help raise your property value. The importance of mulching can be seen in any garden bed that hasn't been mulched -- the ground will be too dry, weeds will be running rampant, and the plants in the bed tend to look wilted and dying. According to the National Resources Conservation Service, the benefits of mulching are:

  • Mulch Protects The Soil From Erosion
  • Mulching Reduces Soil Compaction Due To Heavy Rains
  • Moisture For Root Systems Is Conserved Through Proper Mulching
  • Mulch Helps Maintain A More Even Soil Temperature
  • Proper Mulching Prevents Weed Growth
  • Fresh Mulch Keeps Fruits and Vegetables Clean
  • Mulch Helps Keep Insects Out Of Root Systems
  • Clean Mulch Is A Deterrent To Rodent Infestations

Mulching trees and shrubs is a good method to reduce landscape maintenance and keep plants healthy. Mulch helps conserve moisture in plant beds -- research has shown that a 10 to 25 percent reduction in soil moisture loss from evaporation can be expected. Mulches also help keep the soil well aerated by reducing soil compaction that results when raindrops hit the soil, while they also reduce water runoff and soil erosion. Mulches prevent soil and possible fungi from splashing on the foliage, thus reducing the likelihood of soil-born diseases. Mulches also help maintain a more uniform soil temperature (warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer) and promote the growth of soil microorganisms and earth worms.

Mulching eliminates mowing around trees and shrubs and provide a physical barrier that prevents damage from lawn mowers and weed trimmers. A 2-4 inch layer of good mulch (after settling) is adequate to prevent most weed seeds from germinating. Mulch should be applied to a weed-free soil surface. Simply covering perennial weeds such as bermudagrass or thistle with mulch will not prevent their growth -- as a matter of fact, a fresh layer of mulch on top of perennial weeds will only encourage their growth.

Proper Mulching Techniques

The mulched area should include as much of the root zone as possible. For plant beds, mulch the entire area. Mulches should thoroughly cover an area to a uniform depth to be most effective. Low or bare spots will be prone to weed problems. For optimal weed suppression for a perennial border in Northern Virginia, apply the mulch in early spring before the forsythias bloom. For individual plants, such as trees, the mulched area should extend at least 3 to 6 feet out from the base of the plant. It is advisable to pull the mulch 1 to 2 inches from the base of the plants to prevent bark decay and disease. Mulch depth depends on the type of material used and the drainage and moisture-holding capacity of the soil. Sandy soils dry out quickly and often benefit from a slightly deeper mulch layer, approximately 3 to 4 inches. A site that stays moist may not benefit from mulching at all -- a rock garden usually works better for these areas. Mulch can be applied any time of the year -- however, the best time to mulch in Northern Virginia is mid to late spring after the soil has warmed. Mulches applied for winter protection should be laid down in early winter, once the soil has cooled but before it has frozen -- in Northern Virginia, this usually means September and October. It is not necessary to remove the mulch when you fertilize -- apply the fertilizer over the mulch -- the nutrients will move with the water to the roots below.

Effects Of Poor Mulching

Mulching provides multiple benefits toward improving tree health and longevity. However, these benefits can only be obtained by the tree if the mulch is applied properly and maintained consistently over the life of the tree. When mulch is applied inappropriately, whether by over-mulching or "piling" up against the trunk, it can:

  • Cause inner bark tissue to die
  • Lead to insect and disease problems
  • Promote excessive soil moisture and promote root rots
  • Create a habitat for rodents that chew the bark and girdle the stem
  • Lead to anaerobic conditions that produce alcohols and organic acids toxic to young plants
  • Cause imbalances in soil pH (For Northern Virginia, this causes moss to develop)
  • Become a matted barrier that prevents the penetration of water and air

The Virginia Cooperative Extension sums up mulching like this: "Mulching can make a big difference in the success of your landscape. Mulches conserve soil moisture, allowing you to water less often; keep down weeds; reduce erosion; keep plant roots cool; provide winter protection; and make your yard more attractive."

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Areas We Service In Northern Virginia:

Falls Church | McLean | Arlington | Fairfax | Vienna | Alexandria | Reston | Great Falls

Clifton | Fairfax Station | Burke | Herndon | Sterling | Potomac Falls | Centreville | Oakton

Chantilly | Merrifield | Dunn Loring | Pimmit Hills | Clarendon | Rosslyn | Shirlington | South Riding

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