How to prepare for a new mulch bed.

When you are out in the field and a customer asks you to create a new mulch bed on a specific area of their property where grass now grows, what is the best way to prepare the area for the mulch bed? That is what one lawn care business owner was curious to know when he asked this question on the Gopher Lawn Care Business Forum.

He wrote “I have a landscaping customer who wants me to remove the grass and replace it with small wood chip mulch around a tree and a boxwood hedge.

My question is, do I need to actually remove the grass or should I just use some of that black weed cloth and put the mulch right on top of it? She seems to want a hard edge where the grass ends and the mulch begins. It seems like the way to do this is to dig out the sod to 2 inches in depth, then put down the cloth and mulch, but I’m not sure.”

One lawn care business owner wrote “If I am not using a barrier edging, I start by setting my outline with a power edger set to a depth of about 4 inches on the grass side. With the edger you can cut in some gentle curves that are pleasing to the eye. I then remove the grass. I make the outside border 4 inches deep sloping up to the removed grass height. I then put down the landscape fabric. I have found the heavier the fabric is, the easier it is to work with. It may be a little extra of an expense for the heavier fabric but it will save you time in the long run and give a better looking job.

Next I apply the mulch and pack it in at the edges. I do this by walking on it. It is very important that you always remove all sod. To do this you might also want to use a sod lifter. We have both a manual and walk behind unit. For really big jobs, we have an attachment for an excavator.

Make sure you not only remove the sod but also create a definite edge to keep the mulch in. If you don’t have an edger, a simple flat shovel will do the trick. It’s what I used early on.

If you leave the grass in place, it will quickly grow through the mulch. Putting down the lawn fabric, does add to the cost of the job in both time and labor but it makes a better job with less ongoing maintenance.

When you don’t do the job the professional way we refer to it then as the trunk slammer way of doing it.¬† It’s important to explain the proper installation methods to your customer so they can weed out the cheap bids they get. The customers also need to know when landscape projects are completed the cheap way, they will need to call us later to fix the work others did. Performing professional quality work is what sets us apart from competitors. When clients are educated on the proper methods, they will want the work done right the first time.

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