As a Board member, you may not think about mulching very much, but you should. Some  think it’s just a cosmetic enhancement for landscaping, but mulching is important for many reasons.

Anthony Hudson, vice president of operations for FirstService Residential landscape services, explains the benefits. “Mulch retains moisture, controls erosion, provides and retains nutrients in the soil, beautifies the landscape, suppresses weed growth and controls soil temperature,” Hudson said. “Mulch also creates a barrier that protects trees and shrubs from harmful mechanical lawn maintenance equipment and it improves soil quality to help your plants take in vital nutrients.”
If you’re not already using it as part of your landscaping routine, there’s no need to worry. Mulch can be installed anytime. “Most communities and homeowners tend to apply mulch in the spring and again just before the holiday season for a fresh look and to beautify the landscape,” Hudson said. “It’s also a good idea to install mulch after completing a landscape installation project or renovation; it will help the new plantings retain moisture and provide a finished look to the landscape project.”
It’s important to prepare your landscaping before mulching; don’t just empty a bag and spread it around the base of a tree or shrub. First of all, make sure your shrubs are freshly trimmed. Rake and disperse any existing mulch to make sure matting is not occurring and open the mulch up to allow water and fertilizer to pass through. Second, spray an herbicide or pull existing weeds prior to installing mulch. Consider applying a pre-emergent weed control product to further control the weeds. Finally, it’s recommended to either install a physical barrier such as landscape edging along the edge of your planting and mulch, or to create a shallow trench that will separate grass or sidewalks from the mulch bed.

Most types of mulch are made from byproducts of hardwood, cypress, eucalyptus and other woods. In central and north Florida, pine straw is popular. Throughout the state, rock and artificial mulches are used regularly, Hudson said.

Rock and stone mulches provide soil moisture retention, weed suppression and erosion control in landscape beds. Rock comes in a wide variety of colors and shapes including tan, black, brown, multicolored, red and even glass, as well as beach pebbles from Mexico. From a landscape design perspective, rock beds do well with cacti and succulents, while wood mulches work well with temperate and tropical plants.
Mulch, regardless of the type selected, should be installed to a depth of three inches. If the mulch is too shallow, it will promote weed growth; using too much will adversely affect the root systems and possibly cause issues such as root rot and other fungal conditions. Make sure that the depth remains consistent through the year, adding mulch as needed. This will optimize the benefits of moisture retention, soil nutrient replenishment, erosion control, weed suppression and maintaining your beautiful landscaping. 
Done properly, mulching is an easy way to protect the health and beauty of your property. Whether your needs are best served by a wood, rock or straw mulch, your property will benefit in a number of ways and improve your curb appeal for residents, homeowners and community gathering areas.
To learn more about how partnering with a professional, quality property management company can enhance the value of your property and the lives of your residents, contact FirstService Residential, Florida’s leading property management company.  
Tuesday February 07, 2017