Bark mulch is a wonderful landscaping tool that not only looks great when in place but is also quite useful. Bark mulch gives off a nice outdoor smell for those walking through your garden and helps feed the plants as it breaks down. Nutrients from the bark enter the soil as the mulch decomposes and enrich the soil around the plants. As the bark breaks down, you add more on top, which continues the cycle.
Go to a home improvement store or super store with a garden center to purchase your mulch. You can buy it in easy-to-handle bags or request a load be delivered to your house. You can also get loads of mulch from landscape supply companies. Loads brought to your house will be dumped in one location. You will have to go back and forth with a wheelbarrow to take it to your landscaping, which is much more work. You can sometimes pay the company that delivers it to spread it for you, but this depends on the company.
Outline the area that you want to landscape with spray paint. Spray lightly and don't worry about the markings. What isn't covered by bark mulch will wear off fairly soon.
Lay down plastic weed block if you choose. This will keep weeds and other plants from growing up through the bark mulch. This isn't a required step, and if you keep the mulch layers thick, they will block out light and weeds shouldn't be an issue. If you are spreading only a thin layer of mulch, however, the plastic will be beneficial.
Spread your bark mulch out so that it completely covers the landscape area that you outlined and around any shrubs and flowers in the area. The mulch should be layered at least a couple of inches thick if possible to ensure that you block light and keep weeds from growing. For paths or areas where kids will play, the mulch needs to be thicker because it will be moved around and worn down.
Spread mulch up to and under plants, but not all the way up to the base. Mulch traps moisture, which is good for keeping plants watered, but the constant moisture can cause rot to the base of plants. Push the mulch back so that it is a couple of inches from the base.