One sustainable landscaping practice is Mulching. It’s a pretty common service that most landscapers perform on the regular basis. They apply two inches of fresh mulch to the bed, year after year, whether it’s needed or not; that becomes a problem. That is what happened to one of our clients, Tartan Lakes in Westmont Illinois. They are an established homeowners associations with property that spans over a couple hundred acres with 50 high end townhomes.

This association had received mulching services every year for 20 years. That’s 2500 yards of Mulch, which is a staggering amount of material. The key thing to note is that this mulch is added. So there can be six or more inches of mulch that has hardened into a plywood like barrier. While it may keep out the weeds, the damages aren’t worth that one win. It’s horrible for the plants. The trees lose water the shrubs can’t grow and the perennials are choked out. Nothing really lives in a heavily mulched bed.

The customer demands this service each year simply because they desire a “fresh look.” This is not a sustainable practice. Outside of the excessive amount of materials being used, the healthy ecosystem is being degraded. There good news is that the solution we’ve come up with is sustainable and meets the desires of our customer to have fresh looking mulch each year.

The only difference between old and new mulch is the color. We figured out a solution where we can sweep through a dull poorly maintained bed and turn it into a fresh sustainable landscape in less time with less materials than it takes to mulch a bed using traditional methods, in just a few steps.

First we edge the beds and rough up the mulch already there. We work to break the barriers that has formed to allow the water to penetrate. Then we evenly distribute the mulch in the bed. Next lightly spray the colorant to the area using the four gallon backpack sprayer, a traditional landscape in practice that all of our crew members are trained on.

We acquire the dye in 28 gallon drums. One drum replaces the equivalent of 150 yards of mulch. Not only are we reducing the amount of mulch per square food we are using 35% percent less colorant then we would using traditional mulching techniques. Finally we polish the beds by using a bit of fresh mulch in the bare areas and we’re done.

mulchThis photo is an example of how much mulch we were actually using without the dye applied underneath. What used to take six guys over the course of multiple days, equipped with a huge truck and tons of materials now takes three guys and a lot less time and materials. The best part about all this is that it will save money which can then be used to start filling in those bare areas that you’ve been having to mulch year after year.

Mulching this way meets the sustainability trifecta. It is environmentally friendly because it reduces the amount of materials being used. The plants are healthier and more water is being absorbed on-site. Its economically feasible because it’s cost savings and finally it meets the client expectations. Before ordering another round of mulching next spring, contact us to leverage a more sustainable process.