City-Data Forum How much mulch do i need? (lawn, landscape, trees, backyard)
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04-05-2013, 06:36 AM
 25 posts, read 67,339 times Reputation: 12

We recently moved to a house on half an acre lot which is beautifully landscaped. I called 2 different mulching companies to get an estimate. First one told me i need 4 yards of mulch and the second gave me an estimate for 30 yards of mulch and of course, he will bring the mulch in his truck and charge by the yard. I am confused, how can there be so much difference?
Out of the .5 acres of land we have, i think 40% is occupied by the building of the house and another 30-35% by the lawn and drive way and so the maximum area covered by beds is around 30% of the lot. I know it is tough to estimate without looking at the lawn but a rough estimate will help me since it is the first time for me, getting this yard mulched.

04-05-2013, 07:12 AM
 3,339 posts, read 7,175,816 times Reputation: 4218
The formula is very simple. This is what landscapers should use, and it's what my hort professors taught. For the recommended 3" layer of mulch, you need 1 cubic yard for every 100 square feet. So, if 30% of your half acre is the area to be mulched, that would be:

(43560 / 2) = 21780 sq. ft. (half acre lot)

21780 x .30 = 6534 sq. ft. area to be mulched

6534 / 100 = 65 cubic yards.

Ouch. That is a lot of mulch, so I suggest you get a tape measure or walk off the areas to be mulched and add them up as closely as you can. I would be surprised if 30% of a half acre lot is landscaped. We had a half acre in the Chicago area and a lot of it was landscaped, and I never ordered more than 8-10 yards of mulch for a season. And also remember that if you have mature plants and shrubs in the beds, the7y take up a lot of surface area that won't need mulch.

I'll say this, though. You need much more than four yards. Whoever estimated 30 is a lot closer in the estimate. You can also choose to put down a 2" layer if the beds already have some mulch in them. That would bring my estimate all the way down to 43 yards, but that is still quite high.

For comparison, we live on three acres and have a lot of lawn, but also a fair amounrt of ornamental beds. The most I have ever ordered to do all of it is 35 cubic yards in a season.

04-05-2013, 08:12 AM
 Location: Summerville, SC 1,149 posts, read 3,720,702 times Reputation: 1118
I just wanted to tell the OP I feel your pain. We're looking at that amount of mulch as well, which is why I am considering ground cover to replace some of it, at least in the back.

04-05-2013, 08:15 AM
 3,339 posts, read 7,175,816 times Reputation: 4218
I am very interested in pine straw formulch. It is becoming more popular and has so many advantages. I also think it is beautiful. Our local arboretum uses it. The nicest thing is that it is renewable because pines shed a certain portion of their needles every year. It is also very lightweight and takes a long time to break down. The downside is that it is very hard to find.

04-05-2013, 09:07 AM
 Location: Summerville, SC 1,149 posts, read 3,720,702 times Reputation: 1118
I'm considering it myself for this year, Tina. It is WAY cheaper than wood chips. A local hospital that is being touted as having very green practices uses it and it looks lovely - I just don't see too many homeowners opting for it.

04-05-2013, 09:13 AM
 25 posts, read 67,339 times Reputation: 12
Quote:
 Originally Posted by TinaMcG The formula is very simple. This is what landscapers should use, and it's what my hort professors taught. For the recommended 3" layer of mulch, you need 1 cubic yard for every 100 square feet. So, if 30% of your half acre is the area to be mulched, that would be: (43560 / 2) = 21780 sq. ft. (half acre lot) 21780 x .30 = 6534 sq. ft. area to be mulched 6534 / 100 = 65 cubic yards. Ouch. That is a lot of mulch, so I suggest you get a tape measure or walk off the areas to be mulched and add them up as closely as you can. I would be surprised if 30% of a half acre lot is landscaped. We had a half acre in the Chicago area and a lot of it was landscaped, and I never ordered more than 8-10 yards of mulch for a season. And also remember that if you have mature plants and shrubs in the beds, the7y take up a lot of surface area that won't need mulch. I'll say this, though. You need much more than four yards. Whoever estimated 30 is a lot closer in the estimate. You can also choose to put down a 2" layer if the beds already have some mulch in them. That would bring my estimate all the way down to 43 yards, but that is still quite high. For comparison, we live on three acres and have a lot of lawn, but also a fair amounrt of ornamental beds. The most I have ever ordered to do all of it is 35 cubic yards in a season.
Your calculations are very helpful. Also, i think you are right, i may be guessing way much more than the area that actually needs mulch. thanks a lot!

04-05-2013, 09:19 AM
 25 posts, read 67,339 times Reputation: 12
Quote:
 Originally Posted by TinaMcG I am very interested in pine straw formulch. It is becoming more popular and has so many advantages. I also think it is beautiful. Our local arboretum uses it. The nicest thing is that it is renewable because pines shed a certain portion of their needles every year. It is also very lightweight and takes a long time to break down. The downside is that it is very hard to find.
I never realized pine straw can be used as mulch as i have six trees in my backyard that seemed to have mulched themselves but not much to use elsewhere.

04-05-2013, 09:21 AM
 Location: Tennessee 149 posts, read 276,527 times Reputation: 243
Go to Home Depot/Lowes and pick out a few large bags.There are several kinds and colors to choose from.I use the Red now it really shoes up pretty and hols its color better than the darker colors.By doing this you can see how much you are really going to need.Spreading around 3'' thick is a good idea.This way if it ever does start to look dry or faded you can ruffel it up some and pop the color back.
Sometimes I go to a local nursery a get a truck load,but other times I just go buy a few bags at a time depending.Have fun!!Some people dont like getting any stain from the mulch on their hands and so you wont get any in your eyes you might need to wear gloves while spreading...

04-05-2013, 09:53 AM
 3,339 posts, read 7,175,816 times Reputation: 4218
Quote:
 Originally Posted by StarryEyedSurprise I'm considering it myself for this year, Tina. It is WAY cheaper than wood chips. A local hospital that is being touted as having very green practices uses it and it looks lovely - I just don't see too many homeowners opting for it.
I know! Most homeowners don'tlike the look of pine straw, and I don't get that. Too many people like the dyed black or red, and I would never have those. Pine straw is so natural looking and has such a beautiful texture. I think it also could cut down on slug populations. We had a half dozen diseased/dead Scots pines removed a month ago, and where they stood are loads of pine needles. I checked with Extension to make sure the needles don't carry the pine wilt disease, and they don't, so I can use them in my beds. Now I just have to get out there and rake them all up. They won't be nearly as much as I need, so I am still putting in requests at local nurseries to start carrying them. I might even order a skid online. They come on skids, in bales that are easily lifted. What could be easier or prettier?

04-05-2013, 09:55 AM
 3,339 posts, read 7,175,816 times Reputation: 4218
Quote:
 Originally Posted by PariNeeta I never realized pine straw can be used as mulch as i have six trees in my backyard that seemed to have mulched themselves but not much to use elsewhere.
It is very common in the south, which is where most pine straw mulch comes from at the moment. It's great how Nature has the trees mulch themselves, isn't it?
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