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Mulch in March

March 29, 2010

Every year we start to put mulch in the park about a month before we open.
But before the first clump hits the ground, we have to be sure we’ve got the prep work done right.

Previous blogs have discussed our leaf-removal operations here at the park.. In my yard, I leave a small layer of leaf litter in the flower beds until spring. If you choose to do this, be sure that large leaves are not matting together and keeping rainfall from reaching your plant’s roots. Any plants prone to disease, such as roses or photinia, should have all leaf litter removed whenever it collects, but especially prior to mulching for the new season.

Clear the crowns or trunks of your plants and any other areas of excess mulch from previous applications. Your final mulch depth should be only two to three inches, so keep what has broken down into your soil and remove the excess.

Look for weeds. Hiding the problem under mulch only makes more work later. And while you aren’t distracted by your latest flowering acquisition, look for pests in the garden.

This is a good time to do a soil test if you haven’t done one for three to four years, and if you feel you should fertilize. Unnecessary applications waste money and won’t benefit your plants, either.

Now you’re ready to mulch. Here at Busch Gardens, we use more than 2,000 cubic yards of mulch around the park and adjoining parking lots and service areas. We now have a Finn mulch spreader to reach areas that would be less accessible with a vehicle and mulch fork, so this helps us blow mulch under the roller coasters and some of the hilly areas by the railroad tracks, for example.

Keep the two to three inch depth in mind as you mulch. Trees are a big issue, and if you’d like to get my blood pressure up, just mention mulch volcanoes. The mulch is supposed to help the tree retain moisture between rain or waterings. More is not better, because it provides a haven for pests. Mulch ideally should be kept away from the trunk altogether, but this approach is visually disruptive to most people. Reconcile this dilemma by putting light mulch up to the tree flare (where the roots spread out from the trunk).

Once you have the mulch spread everywhere, it’s time to tidy up again. All the mulch that landed inside or on top of the plants has to be cleaned up. Any that remains on the plants will create a dead spot in the foliage. Clear the crowns, check your tree trunks, and you’ll have a beautifully manicured garden to start the season.

Sheila
Landscaper at Busch Gardens

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Chris permalink
    March 29, 2010 5:40 pm

    I heard if you put newspaper on the dirt under the mulch it will prevent weeds from sprouting up sooner and it is biodegradable so you can just leave the newspaper there. Is this true?

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