How To Apply Bark Mulch To Flower Gardens
I love Spring and early Summer here in New Hampshire especially when flower gardens blossom and the grass gets green after a long Winter. Mulching flower gardens not only helps control weeds but it also helps retain water and moderate soil temperatures. Applying bark mulch to flower gardens is an easy DIY project using basic lawn and garden tools.
Selecting and Buying Mulch
I’m amazed at all the different types and colors of mulch that are now available at landscaping supply stores and big box stores. My preference is using a locally available bark mulch that hasn’t been colored with dyes. Here in New Hampshire I really like Pine bark mulch because it’s plentiful, affordable, sourced locally, and hasn’t been dyed orange! I have another article, Selecting Flower Garden Mulch, that goes over different types of mulch and how to calculate the amount of mulch you’ll need to buy.
Preparing Flower Gardens Before Mulching
Before you just dump a layer of mulch in your flower garden there are some basic maintenance tasks to do first. First you should remove weeds and dead growth from the previous season. Early Spring is a good time to remove small weeds before they have a chance to take hold of your garden. I also use a garden rake to lightly loosen/cultivate the top layer of old mulch to allow air and water to penetrate the soil. I also take time to prune small shrubs and trees in the garden before the mulch is applied.
Another important task before you mulch is edging the flower garden. I like natural looking “cut” edges around flower gardens. The cut edge of the lawn prevents the grass roots from growing into the garden and also creates a clean looking transition from lawn to the mulch. The edge is easy to trim and maintain throughout the Summer months.
Recommended Tools for Mulching Flower Gardens
The tools that I recommend for mulching flower gardens are basic lawn and garden tools that most everyone should have around the house. The list includes:
- Wheelbarrow – I recently started using a Total Control™ Wheelbarrow from Jackson. I really like this wheelbarrow because it has a flat free tire innovative “loop” style handles that make the wheelbarrow very easy to use.
- Steel Rake – To spread the mulch around in the flower garden I like to use a steel rake. Steel rakes are one of my favorite gardening tools because they are very versatile and strong.
- Scoop Shovel – Large scoop style shovels are perfect for transferring bulk materials like mulch into and out of the wheelbarrow. This type of shovel can pick up big quantities of material and the flat bottom allows you to scoop up material without digging into the ground.
- Large Fork – Another effective way to transfer mulch is using a large fork.
- Half Moon Edger – If you plan on edging your flower garden then I recommend you buy a half moon turf edger. This tool is specifically designed for cutting the edge of the lawn in a nice straight line.
These are all PRO grade tools which I feel are a better investment that cheaper homeowner styles. The tools have better handles, better connections, and features that will make them last much longer. You can read my thoughts on purchasing PRO grade tools to find out more about why I think they are worth the extra cost.
It’s really important to install the correct amount of mulch in your flower garden. Too little and it won’t be effective in controlling weeds, and too thick of a layer can damage plants. For bark mulch the recommended depth is between 2 and 3 inches. It’s very important that you not apply mulch directly against tree trunks and the base of larger plants. This can causing rotting and insect infestation problems.