How Long Does Mulch Last?

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Mulch is a key ingredient for any landscaper.

Mulch is the perfect landscaping product for large and small projects alike, because of its many great benefits. It offers brilliant protection against soil erosion and frost. It prevents the evaporation of moisture and helps to significantly suppress weeds. 

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

Well, it’s not expensive, costing only a little more than soil or compost. It’s not bad for the environment; quite the opposite, mulch has a great many benefits for your plants, trees and shurbs. And asisde from some key preparation to the ground, it’s not difficult to implement. 

So, how long does mulch last?

It’s a valid concern and a common question. 

Mulch: How Long?

There are two kinds of life-time for mulch. 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 completely break down, although it depends on a number of different environmental factors (e.g. in direct sunlight, covering very wet ground etc). But really, it is mulch's job to break down and feed your beds. Therefore, throughout the entire degradation process, it’s constantly producing exothermic heat and providing ground cover to protect against the elements. Not forgetting helping to prevent weeds so making your gardening tasks a little easier!   

The aesthetic life-time of mulch is much shorter – between 1-2 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 lose its colour. 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?

You are likely to want to refresh or “replace” the mulch in your landscape after a year or so. The good news is that refreshing, or topping up your mulch is easier than it is to apply mulch for the first time. You won't need as much mulch than the initial coverage. 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.

Find out how deep you should apply mulch to prevent weeds, or take a look at our range of mulches and barks.

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