How to Prepare an Area for Landscaping Using Mulch

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Landscaping your yard or garden creates an orderly, aesthetically pleasing effect for you and your guests to enjoy. While landscaping projects can include many elements, using various mulches to prepare and augment your landscaping is a cost-effective and visually effective means of enhancing your project. Choose from a variety of organic or inorganic mulches that fit your space needs to really help get the beautification process underway.

Things You'll Need

  • Square footage of area
  • Geotextile (inorganic mulch)
  • Large stones or bricks
  • Scissors
  • Organic mulch
  • Shovel
  • Rake
  • Determine the square footage of the area you are landscaping and mulching by multiplying the length times the width of the area. This will help you know how much mulch and other landscape material you need to complete your project.

  • Weed and rake the area you wish to landscape with mulch. Because mulch is used to suffocate out weed growth, you want to make sure the area is as weed-free as possible before you lay the mulch. Smooth the soil or dirt into a flat, even surface once it is weeded.

  • Unroll the layer of geo-textile and tuck it into place. Use bricks or large stones to hold it in place temporarily until you adjust it to its final position. Trim off any overage on the ends or sides, or tuck the edges underneath the area to hide any irregular edges.

  • Cut criss-cross slits in the geo-textile for places you want to plant flowers or shrubs. Plant the flowers before laying additional organic mulch to the area or finishing edging stones. Dig into the soil beneath the geo-textile and secure the plants in the soil. Pat it down and water the plants under the geo-textile once they are in place. If you're installing landscaping around existing plants, you can cut the geo-textile to fit in overlapping pieces around the existing plants.

  • Add the next layer of organic mulch, such as cedar chips, sawdust, topsoil or pine needles with a shovel. Colored and natural mulches are available. Choose whatever fits your design plans. Place a layer 2-4 inches thick of mulch in your landscaping area. Leave a space of 1- to 2-inch diameter around stems of plants and flowers to prevent suffocating them or giving insects a place to hide.

  • Remove the temporary holding bricks and rake the mulch into an even layer. Finish your landscape project with edging, stones or other materials and decorations and enjoy your handiwork all season.

Tips & Warnings

  • Water existing plants thoroughly before adding mulch to an area.
  • When mulching in spring, give the ground a chance to warm and thaw before you add mulch to the area.
  • If weeds do crop up in your mulched area, remove them as soon as possible to prevent spreading.
  • Plastic inorganic mulch lasts for a while and is great at anti-weed growth, but it can suffocate the soil from light, air and rain. Consider fabric geo-textile a similar, but environmentally better alternative.

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