How to Lay Mulch Over Dirt? 11 Steps

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Knowing how to lay mulch over dirt is an intelligent habit, but what exactly is mulch? Mulch is a term that refers to any substance that is utilized to cover the soil surface.

Mulching your lawn over dirt is a very affordable and straightforward task for a homeowner. Mulch aids in regulating soil temperature and retaining soil moisture, both of which are beneficial to the health of your plants. Organic mulches also supply nutrients to your plants as they decompose. Before you begin, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the wide varieties of mulch available and how lay mulch over dirt.

There are few things that you might need to consider before you lay mulch over dirt.

Things To Consider Before You Lay Mulch Over Dirt

There are few things that you might need to consider before you lay mulch over dirt.

Know When to Mulch Over Dirt

The perfect time to mulch is the most important factor because it directly affects your soil. A soil can become barren if you mulch it at wrong time. Mulching in spring is perfect time, appreciated by many experts. Mulching in spring can help your soil retain moisture and deter weeds, as well as provide a soft, stable surface for your walkways and play areas.

Choose The Right Mulch for Dirt

Choosing the right mulch is another deciding factor.

The choice of mulch depends upon

  • The mulch color in combination with your house
  • The purpose of mulch (either you want to kill the plantation or just want to get fertile soil after a season)
  • Area sorting (area can be a walking way, playground, near the wall etc. so you choose mulch accordingly)

So considering the above factors, you will land on mainly two types of mulches you will choose from to lay them down on the dirt.

  1. Organic mulch
  2. Inorganic mulch

Organic mulches that you can choose from to lay them down on your soil/dirt are:

Inorganic mulches that you can choose from to lay them down on your soil/dirt are:

  • Rubber nuggets (most used)
  • Sheet mulch (most prefered)
  • Fabric mulch
  • Marble chips
  • Pea gravel
  • Rocks

Also, the most common mulch is wood chips, but you can also use hay, straw, or peat moss.

So, how will you choose the right mulch. Down below I have listed some data of different mulches and their functionality on soil so you can get a quick idea

How will you choose the right mulch to lay over dirt?

Organic mulches are great source of nutrients

Inorganic mulches are good for areas light playgrounds, near wall, walk ways, and for colorful combinations.

A coarser mulch is one with larger pieces, and is ideal for use around plants that have large root systems. Plants such as shrubs and coniferous trees will benefit from this kind of soil-covering agent whereas a finer mulch with smaller pieces is more appropriate for use on plants with delicate root systems.

A heavier mulch or one with bigger pieces is a good choice if the area getting mulched is less likely to become too saturated from rainfall and runoff.

Dark mulch absorbs heat more than lighter colors, which can be an advantage if you live in a colder environment. If you live in a hotter climate, dark mulch may warm your plants too much and fade their colors. Very light mulches reflect sunlight and heat away from your plants which can protect them from harsh temperatures if there are temperature swings throughout the day.

Now you can easily choose the right mulch to lay over dirt, here is how you calculate it.

How Much Mulch You Should Use Over Dirt?

Before you know how much mulch to order, you will need to measure the area of your beds. Multiply the length and width of your yard. Average steps are 2.5 feet, so count the total number for one side and then multiply it by the other side to calculate the square footage of mulch needed. Here is the simple formula:

Number of steps x 2.5 = Total Length | Number of steps x 2.5 = Total Width | Total Width x Total Length = Square Footage

Once you know the square footage of area where you want to lay down mulch, you will now just need to know how many bags you will need to lay mulch over soil. Here is simple way:

2 cubic foot bags: Square Footage / 12 = Total bags needed for a 2” inch thick layer of mulch.

3 cubic foot bags: Square Footage / 18 = Total bags needed for a 2” inch thick layer of mulch.

Bulk mulch: Square Footage / 128 = Total scoops needed for a 2” thick layer of mulch.

You can also use the mulch calculator to know the exact amount of mulch you need. The above procedure is manual though.

Now you are all set, you can now follow the procedure below to lay down mulch over dirt:

Basic Steps of Laying Mulch Over Dirt

Tools Needed

Shovel: You will need it to drop mulch to wheelbarrow

Rake: You will need it to spread the mulch

Garden spade: To remove unwanted weeds and grasses

Wheelbarrow: To carry mulch or wastes from one place to another

Gloves: You will need it to protect your hands from dirt


Step 1: Using a manual edger, create a new border around the dirt area. Don’t toss the soil onto your plants – you will simply be promoting grass to grow in there! It is far better to prepare an edge by lining up stones around your area so that you may do your mulching.

step 1 using edge to create fine edges

Step 2: Remove any existing mulch to expose the dirt. Also remove any weeds or grass. You can use garden spade to remove weeds or any other unwatned plants. You can also use some weed killer like preen or roundup.

If your existing mulch is not good good then remove it completely

If your new mulch is not the mulch already laid, then remove old mulch completely

If your new mulch is the mulch already laid, then just replace first layer, lay down mulch over old mulch and you will all be good to go.

step 2 removing existing mulch

Step 3: Fill a wheelbarrow with the excavated mulch, dirt, and grass and place it in the compost bin. Using dry leaves, grass and organic mulch in composting is better choice.

step 3 using wheelbarrow

Step 4: Snip any secondary root growth around the tree using pruning shears.

step 4 removing extra roots

Step 5: Remove all of the old or new mulch from the trees or plant’s surroundings if your soil has any. It will prevent your tree from “mulch volcano”

step 5 removing old mulch from tree

Step 6: Hire a truckload of mulch to be delivered to your driveway.

step 6 mulch pile to get it on dirt

Step 7: Fill the wheelbarrow with new mulch, and then move it to the area where you will be laying it down.

step 7 using ensilage fork

Step 8: Rake the mulch to a depth of 1 to 2 inches. Make sure not to lay mulch against bushes or plant’s bases.

step 8 raking mulch

Step 9: Use a rake to rake the mulch away from the bed’s outside border, making it more straightforward to cut the grass with a string trimmer.

step 9 using rake properly

Step 10: Cover the tree’s base with an inch of mulch, keeping it away from the trunk.

step10 covering tree area with mulch

Step 11: Water the area after laying mulch if you have used an organic mulch, it will keep soil healthy. Don’t use too much water.

Precaution During Mulching

  • Wear gardening gloves at all times.
  • When using compost and potting soil, keep it wet.
  • Do not inhale any of the mixtures.
  • After Mulching, always wash your hands thoroughly.

10 Do and Don’ts of Laying Mulch Over Dirt

  1. If you are laying colored mulch, lay it during the days so it has extra two days after laying it over dirt. The main purpose is to lay colored mulch in dry conditions. Otherwise, its color spread down in the soil and make it bad.
  2. Prevent snuffing your newly-mulched location with way too much water for a minimum of 24-hours. A light sprinkling for the plants is all right.
  3. If you notice mold appearing on mulch, turn the mulch gently to expose it to air and avoid disturbing any of the roots that fall out. Let dry for at least a few days until the area stops growing mold altogether.
  4. If weeds grow up between the cracks in your mulch, carefully pull them out before they have a chance to bloom. Trying to remove them with a weed and garden pesticide after they’ve taken root can be ineffective as pesticides typically won’t go on top of mulch.
  5. Keep in mind that weather conditions such as direct sunlight, rain and wind will all have an impact on your mulch, be it organic or inorganic. Its natural appearance, which may seem appealing when first applied, will diminish quickly and then start to look dull when exposed to the sun. But you can freshen any type of mulch by turning it gently with a lightweight rake or by simply shoveling it over. This is a way of not only blending your old mulch with some new materials but also transforming your landscape into one that looks darker, more attractive and certainly more lush and beautiful.
  6. Always keep mulch thickness optimum. 2 to 3 inch thickness is fine. If there is complain of too much weeds and grass 8 inch mulch thickness is fine.
  7. Best time to mulch is in spring do follow that.
  8. Don’t mulch around the stems or main trunk of your plants. Otherwise you plants will die.
  9. Always prefer organic mulch over inorganic mulch, as organic mulch provide nutrients to your soil on decomposition.
  10. Always choose the right color and type of mulch to lay it over dirt.

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After doing my master’s in agriculture, I went on with this field for more than 15 years because I love working in green. I have experienced using modern machinery and techniques that can help farmers and landscapers to achieve something great. My goal will be to deliver you the best reviews and information to make the right decision.

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