How much mulch do I need? It is one of the most common questions I am asked. That is why I have put a mulch calculator on every page of this site.
Gardeners use mulch to improve soil and to prevent weeds growing.
If you need a large amount of mulch then buying it in bulk is your best option. A bag of mulch from B&Q will cover two square feet. You need five bags per square yard and the cost will mount up very quickly. Order your mulch by the lorry-load if you have a large garden. Even a small garden can use a pickup truck load of mulch.
Mulch is the most attractive way of making your garden low-maintenance. Dyed mulch loses its colour very quickly in sunlight, so order the plain un-dyed version; it looks more natural anyway.
You will need to run around your mulched beds with a hoe to prevent those weeds that manage to grow through your 3in of mulch from seeding or otherwise propagating themselves.
It is tempting to lay weed-resistant fabric when you are putting down mulch for the first time. Don’t do it. Weeds will put down roots through the fabric and will be impossible to hoe out. The weed resistant fabric adds nothing to the weed-stopping power of the mulch anyway; it is just a waste of money.
Your mulch will rot down at he rate of 1in a year. Your 3in layer will have rotted down to a bare 1 inch in two years and will need topping up again. Even considering this regular replacement cost, mulch is far and away the best way of keeping down your weeds. The fact that it improves your soil at the same time is just an added bonus.
Your mulch can be hoed. Using a hoe with an alternative gravel weed-suppression covering is very difficult. Using weed-killer every three months is not very friendly to the environment. The only totally zero-maintenance garden is a concrete one, and you would have to brush that to stop wind-blown soil from accumulating in corners. A mulched garden can be maintained by regular hoeing, which is about as low maintenance as it gets.