To Weed or Not To Weed

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To Weed or Not to Weed?

Okay.  It’s getting warmer and you’ve started cutting your grass.  After the long winter, you don’t mind doing the job (yet).  g3.jpgBut on your first pass, you notice the pretty little garden that you have on the edge of your yard and there they are, WEEDS!!

And so the annual battle for your patch of earth begins.  You want to have only a certain set of plants in addition to your grass, but Mother Nature wants all of her seedlings sprouting in your (her) yard too.  So, you can either settle on pulling weeds all spring, summer and fall, or you can repel the invaders with your own fortress.  But instead of stone walls to keep out the Visigoths, your fortress is a weed barrier. 

The two weed barriers that we recommend work well together.  The first is Garden Fabric, which is a durable and water permeable cloth that you can buy at any garden center including Lowe’s and Home Depot, and on top of the fabric, we put mulch.  Mulch also lets water through, and blocks weeds but it also helps retain warmth (heat units) which is important to growth, especially in the spring. 

Mulch comes in different colors, types of wood and even in rubber.  There are a few things to consider when buying mulch.  First, pick the color you want to accent your yard.  Think of the kinds of plants you have and imagine what they will look like with a backdrop of the different colors of mulch.  Black is usually good if you can’t decide.  Then you have to calculate how much mulch you’ll need. 

Below you’ll find a Mulching Calculator that will help you figure out how much mulch you’ll need to get based on how big your garden area is.  It’s pretty simple and the calculator will help you buy the right amount of mulch for your battle with the weeds.IMG_5878.JPG.jpeg Mulch and Flowers 

Mulch comes in three ways, bags, bulk and make your own.  For most people, you’re going to get bags of mulch at the garden center and put them in your trunk or the back of your SUV or mini-van.  This works well and can be high quality, but it’s also the most expensive source of mulch.  Right now, a two cubic foot bag of mulch at Lowe's or Home Depot is in the ballpark of $3.33 per bag which is 2 cubic feet. 

Bulk Mulch

But if you have a truck or can borrow one, you have another option, bulk mulch.    Bulk mulch is cheaper.  We are currently getting it for $35 per cubic yard.  That’s comparable to $1.54 for a 2 cubic foot bag, or a little less than half price. 

But there are some things you should know.  

  • Advice #1:  Use gloves.  Mulch is often dyed to create the attractive colors.  Unless you want your hands to turn colors, use gloves.
  • Advice #2, you’ll need to cover your load of mulch with a tarp before you hit the highway.   Many jurisdictions have laws about covering loose loads and we don’t want you to get a ticket for the chips of mulch flying from the back of the truck. 
  • Advice #3, unloading your mulch can be much easier with the right tools, specifically a pitch fork.  If you try to put a shovel into a pile of mulch, you’ll quickly realize that it won’t go in, and you’ll get almost nothing on your shovel.  The only thing you can do is dig/scrape below the pile of mulch.  This is fine on a hard surface like your driveway and a flat shovel (even a snow shovel) can do the job.  But on soft material like your yard, a shovel will be a real pain, but a pitchfork will go right into the pile and scoop out big loads of mulch with ease.  That’s how we move the mulch from the truck to a wheel-barrel and from the wheel-barrel to the garden and it works great.

Make Your Own Mulch

The last option is to make your own mulch.  This take time and raw materials. But if you plan ahead you can turn fallen tree branches into wood chips with a rented chipper.  This is noisy, can be dangerous, but it’s also the cheapest source of mulch.  For $66 and a little gas, say $70 total, you can make several cubic yards (6) of mulch in four hours and eliminate yard debris while you’re at it.  That’s half the price of bulk mulch.

Good luck repelling the invaders, and if you ignore them, well, I hope you like dandelions.