Mulch Delivery Tips

Check Out Our Top Five Mulch Delivery Tips

Mulching your landscape can seem like a simple exercise. After all, all you need to do is shovel, dump, and spread, right? Well, that’s not entirely true. There is a bit more that needs to be done if you are to get it right. The good thing is if you put a little more thought and sweat into it, you can end up with a beautiful landscape and healthy plants. Let’s look at some tips that will help you to properly lay your mulch.

Calculate How Much Mulch You Need First.

This is the first step. Before you get some mulch, you need to know how much is needed. You don’t want to end up with too much or too little. So how exactly can you figure out how much mulch is needed for your landscape?

 

You need to figure out the total square footage of the area you are working with. To do this, use your steps. The average step is about 2.5 feet long. You can therefore count the number of steps to measure the width and length, then multiply the two to get your square footage.

 

Consider the example below:

Length – 10 steps ( x 2.5)

Width – 15 steps (2.5)

Square footage – 25 feet x 37.5 feet = 937.5 square feet

 

Now that you have your total area, you can then figure out how many bags of mulch to buy. Mulch is sold in cubic yards and one cubic yard covers about 324-square-foot of ground.

That’s if you want to achieve about 2-inch layer thickness.

If the math isn’t your thing, check out our mulch calculator.

Get The Timing Right

You can either lay mulch in spring or the fall. Several advantages come with laying down mulch in the spring. One being that the seasonal rains will help break down the organic materials in the mulch and these materials will get into the soil. This will help give your landscape a fresh look over the entire course of spring and summer. However, if you lay mulch in the fall, it can provide a much-needed layer of insulation for your plants and shield them throughout the colder months.

Regardless of when you apply your mulch, it’s best to do it when the ground is moist and thawed so that the mulch you add will help lock in the moisture.

Get The Best Tools

Ready to get your hands dirty? Now that you have the correct amount of mulch, and you know when to do it, let’s look at how you can get the actual job done.

Tools Needed:

  • Shovel
  • Wheelbarrow
  • Rake
  • Gloves
Prepare Your Ground Properly

After you gather all the necessary tools, clean out your beds. Ensure that you do away with all the weeds, sticks, dried leaves, and old mulch. You should also redo the edging along your beds. When the beds are clean and ready, water them. If you have received no rain and the ground is dry, you’ll want to add some moisture. One advantage of mulch is that it suppresses weed growth. You might also want to add some herbicides just to make sure.

Use The Proper Thickness

You can now start spreading your mulch. Shovel mulch from the wheelbarrow or empty the bags onto the ground, creating small heaps. You can then use your hands and the rake to spread it all over. The best thickness is about two to four inches thick. If you apply a very thin layer of mulch, weeds can push through and grow. If the thickness is too much, you might also end up with water not being able to go through and reach the soil. After you have spread everything evenly, you can water the ground again. This is not mandatory, but it can help to settle the mulch properly.

 

Mulching large pieces of land is easy. When you are dealing with gardens, wait until your plants are growing to avoid burying them and suppressing their growth. Also, ensure that you keep mulch at least three inches from the base of plants and trunks of trees. Avoid mulch volcanoes! Mulching your grounds this spring will give you healthier soil, fewer weeds, and improved water retention throughout the growing season.


Best Practices: Mulch

Best Practices: Mulch!

There are a number of advantages to adding mulch to your landscape. When mulch hardwood bark mulch is applied and cared for correctly, it prevents erosion, protects plants from extreme temperatures, improves soil structure by adding organic matter, conserves soil moisture, suppresses weeds, and adds beauty to landscape plantings!

Before

  • Kill weeds: spray all weeds with weed killer 1-2 weeks prior to mulching. This allows them to completely die, making them much easier to pull when you are ready to get to work.
  • Trim trees and bushes: Because of the debris produced, be sure to trim trees and bushes before applying your new mulch.
  • Clean out mulch beds: remove all dead leaves, weeds, trimmings, and wood build up with a rake.
  • Cultivate: Use a roto-tiller or hand cultivator to loosen any compacted soil or mulch. This allows moisture and air to pass through the mulch easier.
  • Edge your beds: Landscapes with clean edges enhance the appearance and give a professional look. Use an edging shovel or power edger to accomplish this. Tip: Use your garden hose as a guide to create nice, flowing curves!
  • Rake Smooth: Use a stiff rake, such as a mud rake, to smooth all surfaces to be mulched. Otherwise, your mulch may look lumpy.
  • Apply a pre-emergent: This is the time to prevent weed seeds! Apply the pre-emergent before mulching. A second application later further ensures protection from weed seeds. Always read the product directions before application.

During

  • It’s time to mulch: Using your hands or a rake, apply new mulch over the cultivated mulch or soil. Spread evenly approx. 3 inches thick.
  • Say no to mulch volcanoes: Mulch volcanoes occur when mulch is piled around the trunk of a tree or shrub. These are detrimental to the health of the plant by encouraging disease and decay, and preventing proper root development.

After

  • Mulch Maintenance: After a month or so, check the mulch for compaction. If its compacted, use a garden claw or cultivator to loosen it. This allows for air and water to pass through, which helps prevent the growth of fungus and restores a fresh appearance.
  • In the event of fungus: Remove it and the surrounding mulch. Rake existing mulch to cover the area. Fungus is a sure sign of too much moisture in a compacted area.


Recycling Organic Materials

The Ins and Outs of Recycling Organic Materials

Recycling is not just applicable to aluminum cans, glass, or plastic. Your organic waste can also be recycled. Why is this important, and how does it benefit you?

Well, the first thing to know is that organic materials currently take up a large chunk of space in many landfills. That means landfills are filling up faster and faster, and more land is being used up for trash disposal. Additionally, organic materials release methane which is a not-so-good greenhouse gas.

Therefore, organics recycling through composting is important because it:

  • Produces high-quality compost that can be used to enrich the soil, so that it retains moisture and has more nutrients.
  • Supports gardening and farming initiatives by improving crop yield, helping plants to grow healthy, and boosting the production of soil organisms that improve soil quality.
  • Reduces excessive reliance on chemical fertilizers and pesticides
  • Lowers your carbon footprint since it reduces the methane emissions that would otherwise be produced if the organic material had gone to a landfill.

With these and more benefits, recycling organics for compost is something all American households should participate in to avoid being part of the problem. After all, everyone is guilty of throwing away edible food regularly.

What sort of organic materials can you recycle?

Typically, you can recycle food and green waste such as:

  • Old mulch
  • Dirt
  • Leaves
  • Grass clippings
  • Hay and straw
  • Sawdust
  • Wood chips
  • Fruits and vegetable
  • Eggshells
  • Nutshells

What not to compost

Materials that are not suitable for organics recycling include:

  • Garbage and food scraps – these cause odor problems and attract pests and rodents.
  • Concrete, plastic, and metal – these are not classified as organic waste.
  • Treated timber – the chemical pesticide might kill beneficial soil organisms.

If you’re dropping off your organics at your local composting facility, be sure to note which materials are acceptable for dumping.

Using a registered composting facility

You can separate your organic waste from other types of waste produced in your home or at your business premises. Your local recycling authority will then collect it at your curb and transport it to a centralized recycling facility.

Some composting facilities require that you pay a dump fee if you want to deliver and offload the organic waste at their site.

Home composting

You can create a compost pile in your backyard or indoors. If it’s outdoors, it’s recommended that you start the compost on bare earth to allow beneficial organisms to be part of the mix. You must add twigs or straw first to facilitate good drainage.

Then comes the layering process where you alternate between moist and dry materials. Remember to cover your compost pile with a tarp to prevent moisture loss. A well-kept compost should be free of odors and must not attract rodents or pests. It may take several weeks or months until your compost is ready for use.

The bottom line

Recycling organic materials is a simple and cheap way of giving back to the environment. It also creates an essential landscaping ingredient that can enrich your soil or lawn.

Overall, the benefits of organics recycling are clear and it’s not surprising that it’s increasingly becoming popular. You too can start recycling your organic waste now that you know how it works.


Outdoor Renovations

Outdoor Renovations

A new outdoor living space can add functional square footage to your existing home by providing a new space to relax and entertain. Consider how you intend to use the space- outdoor kitchens, bars, fire places, fire pits are all great ways to utilize outdoor living areas. Be sure to extend the decorating style from your home! A small project can go a long way to maximize your space, curb appeal, and time spent outdoors.

Added features make your outdoor living area an investment you can enjoy any time of day or year. Lighting adds an inviting visual dimension in the evening even from inside your home. Fire features can create the kind of warmth to keep you outdoors, enjoying your outdoor space in cooler temperatures.

The American Society of Landscape Architects recommends the homeowners budget at least 5-10% of your home’s worth for proper landscaping and hardscape projects. With the right contractors and materials, this investment will increase the value of your home. A simple walkway and front porch renovation will improve your curb appeal and greet your guests with style- be sure to select colors and textures that will be complementary in terms of color and texture.

There are so many inspiring resources online, from DIY design software to google searches and blogs just like this. Many professionals in the landscape industry will also have literature available to demonstrate the latest trends in outdoor living from brands like Proven Winners and Unilock. We have even linked a few of them below to spark your imagination.

Proven Winners

Unilock

Belgard

Oberfields

World of Stones

Firegear Outdoors

 

Photo courtesy of 27 Construction Co


Explained: Soil Terms

Explained: Soil Terms

A wonderfully designed garden, lawn, or flower bed will lose its beauty quickly if the grass and plants aren’t receiving proper nutrients. Our company puts great thought into the types of soil we use for each project, and each situation may require a custom solution. Keep reading to learn more about the most common types of soil we use for our customers and why they’re most effective for different types of projects.

 

What is Soil?

Soil is made up of minerals, rock, organic material, gas, and water, all of which create an ideal environment for plants to grow and thrive. There are three different types of soil: sand, clay, and silt. Sand is made up of large particles and has poor water retention. Clay is dense and made of very fine particles, which retains water well, but takes longer to dry. Silt is made up of both large and fine particles and is typically rich in nutrients and minerals.

 

Pulverized Topsoil

Topsoil is made up of healthy nutrients taken from the top layer of soil and contains organic matter that effectively holds moisture and creates a microbial-rich environment for proper plant growth. Pulverized topsoil is run through a large grinder to make it lightweight and easy to maneuver. This method also removes most debris, such as sticks, rocks, sand, and to ensure that the topsoil is of good quality.

Pulverized topsoil is best for walkways, patios, or filling in holes in lawns. However, it’s not a good idea to use in gardens or flower beds, because it becomes mushy and dense when it gets wet.

 

Garden Compost

Compost is a mixture of decomposing nutrient-rich soil that is made up of organic matter, such as oxygen, bacteria, water, and other materials like food products, lawn clippings, and dry leaves. The materials break down and the rich soil is then used to refresh depleted soil in the springtime when it’s time to plant new crops. Compost has a very high nutrient content, and the nutrients provide a slow-release, creating an ideal environment for new plants.

Compost is great for many different uses, mixing it into the soil to improve nutrient quality, and spreading it directly into an aerated lawn. Many people use it to mix into the soil in gardens because many different types of fruits, vegetables, and plants benefit from the nutrient density in compost.

 

Soil Conditioner Amendment

Bad soil can create a range of different problems for people trying to keep their gardens or lawns lush and green. You can be dealing with hard pan or compacted soil, soil with a high amount of clay or sand, dead or malnourished soil, or even soil with a high or low PH. Soil conditioner is added to soil to improve the soil’s structure by increasing water retention, aeration, and nutrients, and balancing the PH levels.

Unlike fertilizers, which also add nutrients to the soil, soil conditioners can actually change the structure of the soil. For example, if you’re dealing with clay or compacted soil, the nutrients from fertilizer will get stuck and not properly nourish plants. Before purchasing fertilizer, it’s best to do a soil test to find out the root of the problem, use a soil conditioner to correct the issue, and then move forward with a proper fertilization program.

 

If you have any questions about the different types of soil we use, we welcome you to reach out to us and ask questions!


Mulch To Protect In The Fall

Mulch To Protect In The Fall

The need to mulch your landscape in the fall largely depends on climate. Here in central Indiana specifically, we are no stranger to extreme swings in temperate and freeze and thaw cycles (you’ve seen the potholes!). Mulching around plants, especially precious perennials in autumn protects against these changes in temperature and precipitation, prevents erosion, and enriches your soil throughout the winter months.

When your annuals are dead, any vegetables have produced their last bounty and every last weed has been plucked after the first frost, it’s time to prepare for the winter ahead with more mulch. Consult with your local supplier to identify the product for you. As we always say—bark is best. This means you should be looking for a high bark content in your mulch choice because as it breaks down (which quality mulch is supposed to do) it is going to restore the most nutrients to your soil for the next growth cycle of your plants.

Here are a few more things to consider when it comes to mulching in the fall:

  • Mulching is hard work- do it when the weather is more tolerable and refresh with a thin, cosmetic layer in the spring
  • Plant growth this time of year is slow and perennials are well established- you won’t have to worry about suffocating or damaging new growth in the spring
  • As always, spread a thick layer—anywhere from two to four inches is perfection!

We are not oblivious to the fact that most people just don’t love to mulch as much as we do, and most certainly not enough to do it twice per year. But, your landscape is an investment- in need of maintenance and proper protection like anything else in and around your home. As always, if you need help identifying the right landscaper to do the heavy lifting for you—give us a call.


The Dirt On Topsoil Products

We know there are so many options when it comes to choosing the right soil for your project, it can be downright confusing! But, it is so important to the well-being of your lawn or landscape to choose the right soil for the job. We decided to break this down for you a little further…

  • Pulverized Topsoil (BEST FOR SEEDING AND GRADING)
    • Our inventory manager takes great care in purchasing local, quality topsoil with low clay or sand content. Once pulverized at our facility, it is fine and easy to spread. Topsoil will hold his structure once placed, which is the basis for its recommendation to fill holes or bare places in your lawn. If you plan to re-seed your lawn or start fresh, regular topsoil is best for the job!
  • Topsoil Plus (BEST FOR PLANTING)
    • We combine our pulverized topsoil and compost in this 50/50 blend! Unique to this mix, the compost will add vital nutrients for your plants and the structural integrity of topsoil will keep the shape of the application over time. Topsoil Plus and other similar topsoil/compost blends are a perfect start for new vegetable or flower beds. Please note- topsoil mixes do not have the same drainage components needed specifically for container plantings!
  • Compost (BEST AS AN AMENDMENT)
    • The benefits of compost are endless in your garden or landscape. When mixed in with existing topsoil (we do not recommend planting directly into compost), it will enrich your soil by encouraging the production of beneficial bacteria and fungi that break down organic matter to create humus, a nutrient-filled material. Humus helps your soil retain moisture, loosens heavy clay soils to improve aeration and drainage. Composts with high organic content will be the most beneficial! Amending the soil of new planting space with existing topsoil is an ideal application for compost.
    • Please be aware of the “bathtub affect” which occurs when planting in heavy soil. If your soil is not already largely amended, be sure when transplanting to fill in with the same soil the plant is used to, even if it is heavy clay. Many resources suggest adding amendments such as compost to the backfill, but a lighter mix surrounded by heavy clay soil (the norm in Indiana) will result in trapped water and suffocated roots, eventually killing your plant.

Lending a Helping Hand

As a small, family owned business, being involved in our local community organizations has been important to us since day one. Whether you are a large non-profit group hosting a day of service, an athletic team, or a Boy Scout troop, we are proud to have been able to help groups of all sizes and purposes grow by serving their individual needs.

Donations

Each year, we give away a certain amount of product for various projects from community gardens to vouchers for auctions and fundraisers. If your community group has an upcoming service project that requires landscape supplies, reach out and tell us about your project as soon as you can!

Fundraisers

Churches, clubs, and athletic teams have all been able to benefit from our mulch fundraisers to cut down on their participation fees, or pay for upcoming learning opportunities. With guidance, participants are able to set their own pricing on our product, and it sells itself- everybody needs mulch!

Give Back Program

Our Give Back program is a no brainer. If an organization has a need for any kind of fundraising, this program keeps on giving. We offer 10% back on any sale at Musselman’s made on the organization’s behalf throughout the entire year—all the customer has to do is mention it at the time of the order and 10% will be given back to the club.

 

Our partnerships lend a helping hand in the success of our community organizations to ensure that great things continue to happen here. Be sure to check out our Facebook page to see past projects we have been fortunate enough to help out with! No matter the needs of your church, club, school, or team-- we are here to help, from the ground up.


Landscape To-Dos | Early Spring Edition

You may be dreading these words, but we are excited to say it is officially time to get back to work in your backyard! The very first day of Spring has come and gone, and there might even be a 48-hour window this weekend with no rain or snow in central Indiana (key word: might!). That is a surefire sign it's time to get some refreshed mulch in those flower beds and actually start the outdoor improvement projects you've been dreaming about through the long winter.

Don't know where to start? Here are a few things to keep in mind this time of year, so you aren't stuck with all the work right before the guests arrive for your race day celebration or daughter's graduation party.

  1. Spring Clean-up: Remove the remaining leaves and debris from your gutters and planting beds, clear the unwanted brush and growth out of your yard and finish up by cutting back dead foliage before the new growth kicks in. Prioritize edging your beds as a part of this process- it will help you effectively keep your mulch in place and deter the lawn from extending its boundary.
  2. Mulch: Refresh your landscape beds with a few inches of mulch. Not only does it make your planting areas look neat, but it will help retain moisture in the soil and will keep roots cool in the upcoming summer heat. When mulch breaks down, it restores much-needed nutrients to your soil. If your old mulch is caked together and not decomposing well, remove most of it before you apply 2-3 inches of fresh product. For more information about mulch options and best practices, call our office to speak to a customer service representative!
  3. Equipment: In the early spring days, it is important to ensure your lawn mower and irrigation systems are ready to roll when you need them!

If you are as excited as we are about Spring, you are anxious to get back into the garden and beautify your outdoor living space. Continue to keep an eye on that Indiana weather- you will want to wait until after the frost dates have cleared to introduce most new plants to your beds. The steps above for early spring will set up your landscape for success this season!


Welcome!

Beginning as a simple mulch operation, Musselman has only grown since our roots were first planted in the 1980s. Since then, you have relied on our advice, expertise and high quality products. We are your one-stop shop for all things landscaping, and now your one ONLINE stop for valuable information! We are thrilled to interact with each of you more often through the launch of our new blog page.

We want our blog to be a resource you value, which is why we will focus on gardening tips, answering your questions, bringing you the latest trends in outdoor living, and highlighting what we have going on at Musselman Landscape Solutions- from the ground up!

So, be sure to bookmark this page, follow us on Facebook and Instagram or do what you need to do to stay up-to-date with our posts. If you have a question regarding anything under the sun and in your landscaping (chances are, someone else out there is wondering about it, too!) let us know by emailing us, and we will feature it right here!