Remove Mulch – Step 1
You may find the content of this post to be obvious and basic, but when I see this simple step overlooked everyday, it compels me to write about it. Whether you’re installing a new plant or doing any digging whatsoever in an area that is already mulched, remove the mulch from that area before digging. Reason: mulch is intended to be an insulative layer separate from the soil that moderates the soil temperature, helps retain moisture, keeps down the weed population and all the while “looks good”. When you dig without removing the mulch you invariably mix the soil with the mulch and that compromises every one of the advantages I just listed for using mulch. In these pictures dead azaleas needed to be replaced. Notice how the mulch was pulled back away from each plant to expose the ground where the digging will take place.
Once your plants are replaced, or your new plant is installed, or your trench is dug and backfilled, or whatever you may have done to disturb the ground, you can now regrade the area nicely, remove any stones and debris you may have unearthed, and now, for the moment we’ve all been waiting for: replace the mulch. Remember, the key is to do the work you must, preserve all the qualities of the mulch (that you paid good money for) and in the end have it look like nothing was ever done to the area.
For those in the trade it’s just good business. In addition to the functional benefits of preserving the mulch, you have the aesthetics. Homeowners appreciate and admire work that leaves the beds as clean as they were before.