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Too Much Mulch: Mulching a garden bed with ground up wood chips serves many useful functions as you well know. It helps retain moisture and keeps out weeds. This just plain looks good in a newly planted garden bed. Art and Linda's Wildflowers uses pine bark mulch for the garden beds and pine bark nuggets for paths, around trees and shrubs and incorporated into various design features. For very large gardens we generally use selected ground up wood chips from a mulch supplier.

The most important function of mulching, however, has been little discussed or understood until relatively recently. The wood chip mulch forms a matrix which allows bacteria, fungi, nemotodes and many other organisms to get established and form a necessary symbiotic relationship with the soil and the roots of the flowers, grasses, trees and shrubs.

The wood chip mulch is digested over time by the fungi and must be replaced periodically. This is the natural order of things. One should NEVER put down a plastic weed screen, marble pebbles, ground up tires, etc., or lay mulch on more than two inches deep.

Thick layers six inches deep of schredded wood chips becomes compacted and does not allow for the free exchange of moisture and oxygen between the soil and the atmosphere. This is very unhealthy and bad for the plants.

Traditonal landscapers or lawn service people love to mulch the garden beds like it is going out of style. When stwewarding our gardens do NOT LET the lawn service people touch our wildflower beds. They will smother them with too much mulch.

Too Much Mulch:

This small garden bed was designed and planted a few years ago by a large, well-known landscaping firm. It declined over the years. The shrubs are grubby-looking and half dead. The flowers dwindled to but a handfull. The bed looks raised but it is not. Believe it or not, there is almost a foot deep of mulch in the bed around the plants.

We started to scrap and shovel the mulch off of the bed. We discovered the flowers were not even planted in the soil but int the mulch.

We tried to hide the mulch everywhere -- behind the garage, in the alley, around the neighbors yews and in an old field.

We keep digging and scrapping. We wanted to save whatever plants we could, if possible. See Toby at the right intrigued by a mulch weasel.

Look at this !!!

The roots were not even in the soil, but rather had grown laterally throughout the mulch. No wonder the health of all the plants was problematic at best.

We replanted what we could of the existing plants, added new plants and grasses, created some nice-looking design features and then redistributed ONLY two inches of the old mulch back onto the bed.

Here is the garden bed after we tended it. See how much better and healthier it looks.

We will revisit this yard again in the future to keep you updated.

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