Is the color of your mulch fading? Or is your garden suffering from excessive rain? How often to mulch lawn? How often to replace mulch? You must consider providing the correct care for your garden’s mulch. It is important to realize that climate change and frequent rains significantly enhance the natural breakdown of mulch. Consequently, mulch decomposes in the soil and changes color. It exposes the grass to a hostile environment, which eventually results in challenges such as weeds and soil depletion.
Thus, the question of “how often should mulch be replaced” or “how often to mulch lawn?” emerges. It is dependent on a variety of circumstances, including the type of mulch used, the surrounding environment, and the mulch’s quality.
Down below I have justified these facts with reasons.
Why You Should Replace Your Mulch
The reason why you should be replacing the mulch each year is based on the mulch types.
In the case of organic mulch, the main reason for replacing mulch is its decomposition. As the organic mulch decomposes over time and gets mixed with soil progressively, you may need to replace it or at least add more mulch to replenish the loss. If you don’t do so, the mulch will be no more in after passing a year and soil erosion can be a major problem.
In the case of inorganic mulch, the main reason for replacing a mulch after a year is the color and quality loss. As inorganic mulch losses color over time due to harsh environments and sunlight burns. This can disturb the overall aesthetic look of your lawn. Also, the quality loss can be bad for your soil.
If you combinely look at all facts, you will see the following reasons to replace your mulch timely:
1. No Moisture Retention and Soil Protection
once the mulch depletes over time, and you are not replacing it in time, it will no longer provide the benefits it is designed for. It will not retain water or control soil erosion as it gets mixed in soil and become a part of it. which means your soil gets naked over time and becomes liable to damage by environmental entities.
2. Color Fading
Color fading is the major problem for many mulches, especially in the case of dyed mulch. It happens due to sunlight exposure. It is something you cannot stop. All you can do is to replace mulch that has lost its color over time.
3. Flooding or Rainfalls
Flooding or rainfall is major reason that will push you to replace mulch earilier than one year. As water flow bears a force that take away mulch with it. Though, using cedar or cypress mulch, netting and mulching proplely on slopes can eleminate this problem.
How Often to Replace Mulch? How Often Should I Mulch My Lawn?
Check your mulch at the start of the spring season every year as it is the best time to mulch. If it is in good condition, you do not have to change it. In contrast to it, if the mulch has been degraded to little particles, then you are better to replace this mulch.
To get the best idea about how often to mulch or replace the mulch, there are different facts you should consider. Actually, those factors are different conditions, if you come across such conditions, you can replace your mulch accordingly.
All the conditions are mentioned below:
If Mulch Is Organic
If your mulch is organic, you should replace it if it is deteriorating or becoming thin over time. Though organic mulch can survive upto 5-6 years. As organic mulch gets thin over time because it gets broken down into particles that we call nutrients and deliver those particles to the soil. Types of organic mulches are wood mulch, bark mulch, cedar mulch, straw mulch, grass mulch etc.
Mulches like wood mulch, bark mulch, or straw mulch can survive for a minimum of 1 year you may not need to mulch during that time period. Also, you won’t need to replace them.
Where mulches like leaf mulch or grass mulch may need mulching within few days to one month.
For grass mulch I have explained the factors you should think of and you will know “How Often Should You Mulch Your Lawn?”
Grass Mulch: How Often to Mulch Lawn? , How Often Should I Mulch My Lawn?
Grass mulch is the mulch that you produce with the help of a mulching lawn mower. Later you spread grass mulch on the lawn. That grass mulch you cannot replace as it decomposes within few days because it laid in fresh air.
Though the frequency of grass mulching varies in your lawn depending upon the size of grass, sunlight exposure, air moisture, soil type, and mulching mower.
If your mulch type is grass then the size of the grass matters a lot when you are mulching. Grass normally grows and sizes 1-3 cm in a week. Then you should mulch it after one week to ten days. If the growth of your grass is slower you should mulch it with a 15-20 days gap. This way it will keep your lawn healthy and won’t affect grass growth.
Sunlight exposure also affects your mulching performance indirectly on your lawn. As more sunlight keep the grass dry so you can probably mulch it when it is dry. And here you apply the same thumb rule of mulching once a week depending upon the grass growth.
Air moisture is another major decider for how often you should mulch your lawn. As more humid air stows your grass wet. And it is a bad idea to mow over wet grass. If you living in an area where your grass often gets wet then you should probably mulch once a month to avoid poor results and bogging of your mower’s engine.
Soil type also matters. You can do N:P:K test of your lawn soil from a licensed firm in your area. This way you will see you need to add mulch to your lawn or you need to bag it instead. If your soil already has nutrients then you can add mulch to your lawn after a month or two. If soil’s nutrient status is poor then you should mulch it once a week.
A mulching mower is a secondary factor but is worth mentioning here. Mulching mower performance refers to the cut size of grass clippings. If your grass clippings coming out of the mower are more than an inch then you should mower at least twice the same trip when mulching with a mower. If the cut size of clippings is fine then you should mulch after 5 days top.
If Mulch Is Inorganic
If your mulch is inorganic, you can replace it depending upon the type of mulch. Types of inorganic mulch is rock type, rubber type, crushed sheels etc.
If your mulch is a rock type, which means a mulch type you are using where plants are not required or needed to be killed, you might not need to replace it for many years. Many years means more than 20 years.
If your mulch is a rubber type, you can replace it after more than 10 years depending upon the usage.
If your mulch is crushed shells, gravel, shingle, slate, pebbles, or stone chippings, then you can replace or improve it after 3 years to give it a more appealing look.
If you observe discoloration, soil erosion, or the existence of weeds then mulch should be replaced every 5-6 years.
There are numerous more aspects that can contribute to replacing mulch either early or late.
These factors include the type of mulch, climate fluctuations, and environmental circumstances.
So, mulch should be replaced when it is necessary to be replaced.
Mulching Too Early or Too Late
When you replace mulch too often in your lawn, it can cause a waste of time, money, and effort.
On the contrary, when you replace mulch too late, its color can fade and it will start breaking down. As a result, the nitrogen requirement of plants and soil will not be fulfilled.
In that case, high nitrogen mulch should be provided.
Soil erosion, decomposition, and discoloration are the signs when mulch is needed to be replaced. If it is decomposed completely without replacement, it will no longer provide nutrients to the lawn. Moreover, it will be unable to protect your lawn.
After the degradation of mulch, it will not retain moisture. As a result, weeds will emerge.
Un-dyed mulch will lose its color after a certain time. It will still be effective yet unattractive. The point often overlooked is that dyed mulches contain cheap chemicals that can be harmful to plants. So, dyed mulch should be replaced after a year.
Above all, bark mulch will last longer than other types of mulch. So it is needed to be replaced after 5-6 years.
Shredded mulch is affected by rains and winds so it is required to be mulched more often than other types.
Poor or Excessive Mulching
If a low amount of mulch is provided to the lawn, it is decomposed early and it will leave some spaces where weeds can grow, and ultimately, insects will grow there.
On the other hand, if an excessive amount of mulch is provided, it will form a thick layer over the lawn. As a result, sunlight and air (oxygen) will not pass through it. Eventually, anaerobic bacteria and harmful chemicals will be produced there.
In short, mulch should be replaced every year. if environmental conditions are good, then use organic mulch which you won’t need replacing for up to 5-6 years. Though there is always a need of replacing the first top layer of mulch regardless of the mulch whatever mulch type you use. In the case of lawn mulching, mulch-like grass mulch needs mulching or replacement within 15 days-month.
How to Replace Mulch?
Choose Mulch Wisely
For replacing mulch, you first need to choose carefully a suitable mulch for your lawn or garden. Like if there is a weed problem in your soil you should go for the best mulch to stop weeds. If you want to make your soil just colorful, then choose a mulch that matches house color correctly.
Another thing worth mentioning here is the size of mulch you choose which means bigger mulch hold on soil longer than the shredded ones. So, if you are going after mulches like bark mulch, woods chips, nuggets, cedar mulch, cypress mulch, etc. they are good choices to stay on your lawn for a longer time.
More to add, choosing organic mulch over inorganic mulch is a good choice. As inorganic mulch is dyed and can release chemicals into the soil over time which bring negative effects on your soil.
Lay Mulch Properly
Once you have chosen the mulch you are going to use, you need to look if at the condition of the old mulch. If old mulch is still doable you can remove the first layer and lay new mulch over old mulch.
After you have kept everything in check, you can now lay down your mulch on the soil. Be careful that it has to be done properly. Here is the procedure on replacing mulch.
Few factors are required to be considered such as:
- Add mulch to the existing mulch.
- The mulch layer should be 3-4 inches thick.
- Leave 2-3 inches of space around the base of plants.
- A balanced mulch should be provided. In this way, your mulch will last longer and your lawn will be healthier.
Do and Don’t of Replacing Mulch
DOs of Replacing Mulch
- Choose the right mulch accroding to weather condition.
- Always prefer organic mulches over dyed and inorganic mulches.
- Use netting on slopes to protect mulch from eroding away with water flows
- Keep 1-2 foot distance of mulch from plant stem.
- Always remove weeds before placing mulch.
- Replace the mulch with faded color or deterioting one
DON’Ts of Replacing Mulch
- Don’t lay mulch over weeds.
- Don’t lay mulch over wet lands.
- Don’t water the mulch very often.
- Don’t use dyed mulches.
- Don’t remove all mulch to replace it with new. Keep old mulch below layers as it is and add new ones on the top.
- Don’t lay mulch over with thickness more than 3 inches.