Landscape Wisely

Much Ado About Mulching

Mulch can be an organic material like compost or wood chips or an inorganic material like granite or rock. Landscape plants will benefit the most from organic mulches. When installing new plants, place a two- to four-inch layer of mulch around the root zone after planting. This will keep roots cooler and will help retain moisture by slowing evaporation. Organic mulches provide further benefits. They keep weeds in check, improve soil structure, and increase water and nutrient holding abilities for the soil.

If you don’t think organic mulches offer the “desert look” you are after, cover it with granite. To add or replenish mulch to existing plants, simply rake back the rock, add the organic mulch, and cover it back up.


  1. Mulch the entire root zone of the plant out to the drip line (leaf canopy).
  2. Keep mulches about three to four inches from the trunk or stem, since too much moisture against the bark can cause damage.
  3. Because of our high summer temperatures, mulch breaks down very quickly. Therefore, it’s a good idea to replenish organic mulches around existing plants each year.
  4. Never use black plastic as a layer underneath mulch or granite. It prevents air and water from reaching plant roots and typically comes to the surface becoming unsightly.