When to Replace Your Mulching

When to Replace Your Mulching

Mulching has its benefits. From keeping your soil healthy to adding some incredible curb appeal to your home, mulching is a great way to add a functional aesthetic to your yard.

There are a ton of variables to consider when picking out your mulching. What color should you use? Where should you put it? When should you replace it? We’re going to go over some basic mulch 101 and cover the best time to replace your mulching and keep your yard healthy and beautiful all at the same time.

The Basics

We’re going to start off with some basic mulching knowledge. That way, you’re not stuck with something you’re going to need to replace right away because it either doesn’t work or doesn’t look the way you wanted.

Types of Mulching


Shredded Bark

This is typically composed of cedar and pine. This type of mulching works best for gardens or yards on a slope because it interlocks, preventing it from washing away.

Bark Nuggets

Perfect for flat yards or gardens, bark nuggets need to be replaced less frequently because of its chunky consistency. This along with its size makes it far less likely to break down compared to other mulch types.

Pine Straw

This is typically only really used in the south, but we’re throwing it on the list for common knowledge. Pine straw needles don’t budge, making them great for slopes or hills.

Leaves/Grass Clippings

If you want a DIY mulching solution, you can make your own using grass clippings or some shredded leaves. If you’re using this for a garden with edibles in it, make sure these clippings or leaves haven’t been chemically treated

Mulch vs. Rock

There’s always a bit of an argument between rock and mulch users regarding which is better. The truth is that mulch is better for your soil and your yard . . . but there are more factors to keep in mind with organic mulch. Let’s quickly go through the pros and cons of each.

Mulch Pros

  • Promotes plant and tree growth
  • Reduces water evaporation, which means you have to water less
  • Maintains ideal plant temperature (regardless of season)
  • Reduces soil erosion


Mulch Cons

  • Annual replacement
  • Need to be wary of how much mulch you’re using
  • Can mulch too late or too early, negatively affecting ground temp or weed growth


Rock Pros

  • Low to no maintenance or replacement
  • Prevents soil erosion in areas that are very windy


Rock Cons

  • Can increase soil temperature, which will negatively affect plant life
  • Creates alkaline soil that doesn’t benefit plant life
  • Restricts rejuvenating pruning of shrubs
  • Perfect place for unwanted soil to sneak in, creating a home for weeds


Mulch provides such a healthy alternative for your soil and plant life compared to rocks. While you may have to keep up some maintenance down the road, in the long run, mulching is far more beneficial for your yard.

Now That We Have the Basics Out of the Way

OK, now that we’ve covered some of the essential mulching knowledge, let’s get into how you can and should use your mulching—and when you should replace it.

Use it as an Accent

Mulching 101: The color you pick out will be determined by the exterior of your home. Some common color schemes are:

Brick Houses: Brownish/Red Pine Mulch

Gray Contemporary: Black Mulch

Terra Cotta/Golds/Warm Tone Homes: Red Mulch

These are just a few examples if you’re having difficulty selecting a color—consult with a professional to get some piece of mind. Either way, you want your mulching to compliment the rest of your home and yard. It should act as an enhancement, providing contrast where necessary and consistency where needed.

When Mulching

You’re going to want to remember a few tips and tricks of the trade. Mulching is a bit of an art and a science, so you’re going to need to experiment to get your solution just right. But there are some rigid foundations of mulching that don’t change much.

  1. Thin out your mulching when close to an edge (tree trunks, pavement, stones, etc.)
  2. Use it on bare soil to prevent erosion and runoff
  3. Keep to the 3 inches rule for beds
  4. Use around trees for trunk protection

If you’re using organic mulch, we recommend leaving the landscaping fabric out of it. Not only can it look pretty terrible, but it also has the potential to prevent water from reaching your soil, which does far more harm than good.

Note: Don’t get your mulch from unreliable sources. It may seem like a cheap and easy solution but it can cost you a ton down the road. Bad mulch can come jam-packed with weed seeds, which will be a massive headache for you.

When to Replace Your Mulch

In the midwest, mulching has almost become a right of passage for the landscaping community. So how often do you need to do it? Well, it sort of depends on how visually appealing and functional you want your mulch to be.

The best season to re-mulch is in the Spring. This gives you some time before the leaves open and the heat kicks in. Another popular time to mulch is in late fall after a few touches of frost have done their part.

A good rule of thumb for low maintenance mulching is the annual approach. Once a year is a great middle ground for longevity and aesthetic. It’s easy to schedule out and make sure that it gets done once a year. 2”-3” will do.

You certainly can mulch every few years if you spread your mulch fairly deep (3” or 4”). While this is doable, it can be overdone and if it’s too thick it will starve your soil and suffocate plantlife. So if you’re taking the low-maintenance route, you have to be extra careful.

Note: For both the annual and low-maintenance route, it’s a good idea to clean out the old mulch or break it up a bit before you put down a fresh layer.

If you want the most visually appealing and healthy option, you can mulch twice a year (spring and fall). This will give you more options of switching up the color or mulch type along with providing your soil with some great organic mulching. This will give your soil, plant life and trees the most nutrients and moisture.

A Better Way to Landscape

Mulching provides that “finished look.” It’s a great way to add some aesthetic appeal and fresh nutrients to your garden or yard. It’s a popular landscaping practice here in Minnesota, as it adds so many benefits to your soil while looking incredible.

However, as we said, it is a bit of an art and a science. You have to be mindful of your overall landscape along with soil temperatures to get your ideal result. But adding in the right mulch can make landscaping and gardening a much smoother process!

If you need a hand with your mulching, feel free to reach out and we would be happy to help!