How Long Does Mulch Last?

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Mulch is a key ingredient in any landscape. It’s a veritable Swiss-army knife of landscaping tools and with something to offer in any weather, it makes sense why it’s so popular.

Mulch is the perfect landscaping product for large and small landscapes, because it protects against the elements. It offers brilliant protection against soil erosion, frost, evaporation and weeds. In our recent blog, we outline all of the different ways that mulch protects a garden.

With it being such a robust tool in the garden, there’s surely some kind of downside.

It’s not expensive, it costs less than wood-chips and only a little more than soil and compost. It’s not bad for the environment; mulch has been proven to have a positive effect on surrounding plant health. It’s not difficult to implement; simply dump it on the surface and spread evenly with a rake.

So how long does it last? Anything that is this beneficial sounds like it would only last a month before degrading…

It’s a valid concern, why apply such a substance if it requires re-touching and re-applying every 6 months?

How long?

There are 2 kinds of mulch life-time. There’s the practical life-time; how long it continues to do its job for. Then there’s the aesthetic life-time; how long it looks good for.

The practical life-time of mulch can be anywhere from 4-7 years. This is how long it takes for a layer of mulch to break down over time; however it depends on a number of different factors. Throughout the entire degradation process, it’s constantly producing exothermic heat and providing ground cover to protect against the elements.   

The aesthetic life-time of mulch is much shorter – between 1 and 2 years. As the mulch is exposed to the elements and begins its decomposition process it changes in ways that people often prefer to cover up. After 1-2 years, the mulch begins to grey in colour, losing that deep brown that it’s known for. It may also begin to show small patches of soil through animal disturbance and degradation. This may allow weeds to begin to grow.

What to do

Whenever you decide to do so, you’re likely going to want to “replace” the mulch in your landscape. The good news is that it’s easier to “top-up” than it is to start fresh and often takes less material than the initial coverage. A re-rake of the old material and a top-up covering of fresh mulch is all it takes to reinvigorate the mulch and make it look like new again. There’s no need to remove any old material, it’s still providing nutrients to the soil. A top-up simply serves to provide added protection that was lost and to re-create the aesthetic look that has been lost.

Take a look at our range of mulches and barks and see how you can dress your landscapes.

 

Spring2018

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