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How to Prepare an Area for Landscaping Using Mulch

Mulch provides the background for many landscaped areas in both home yards and public landscapes. It also helps retain moisture, adds nutrients to the soil and prevents weed growth. The ground cover comes in different colors and materials, giving some flexibility of use. Mulch works well around plants, under play equipment, along pathways and around other landscape features. Preparing the ground before adding the mulch results in a better end product that creates a polished landscape appearance.

Identify the purposes for using the mulch. Determine if it is purely aesthetic, for plant health or as a protective ground cover for play areas.

Choose the ideal time for adding mulch to the landscape. Waiting until later in the spring allows the ground to warm. Adding mulch too early prevents the ground from warming naturally. Adding mulch in the fall or winter helps protect plants in colder temperatures.

Mark the area that will receive the mulch. Take measurements of the area to help estimate the amount of mulch needed to cover the area. Use landscape edging to create the perimeter of the area. This prevents the mulch from migrating out of the designated area.

Remove any weeds from the area that will receive the mulch. One of the purposes of mulch is to prevent weed growth. Removing those weeds before the mulch gives it a head start in the weed prevention area.

Water any plants in the area to prepare them for the mulch application.

Add landscape fabric as an additional weed barrier, if desired. Cut the landscape fabric to fit the area and lay it in place before adding the mulch.

Install the edging material if you plan to use it. Line the perimeter of the area receiving mulch with the edging material.

Fill the area with the selected mulch. Apply 1-to-2 inch layer of landscaping material to avoid damage to the plants.


Choose a mulch material and color that blends well the with rest of the landscaping and home design.

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