Compost vs. Mulch: What’s the Difference?

Compost vs. Mulch: What’s the Difference?

Although both compost and mulch are great for a healthy garden, they serve different purposes. Using them together is actually counterproductive. Keep reading to learn about the differences between compost and mulch as well as when you should be using each one independently.

What Is Compost? 

Compost is organic matter that’s decomposing. This can include kitchen scraps, grass clippings, leaves, manure, weeds and plant debris – as long it doesn’t have any disease-ridden insects or chemicals that could contaminate the compost.

It’s essential to have the perfect mixture of green and brown in your compost pile, as well as enough moisture, air circulation, turning of the pile, its size, ambient temperature, and worms or microorganisms that decompose the compost.

After the compost is fully decomposed, it turns into either organic matter or humus. You won’t be able to tell any of the original materials apart. Mature compost is dark brown and crumbly with soil-like particles, and it has an earthy smell.

What Is Mulch?  

Mulch is defined as any material used to cover the soil surface. Although all compost contains organic matter, not all mulch is classified as organic. The most common type of mulches, which can be bought in bags or bulk at gardening centers, are wood chips or shavings, hardwood, and softwood bark.

There are three main types of synthetic, man-made mulches: rubber, plastic sheeting, and geotextiles. Geotextiles include landscape fabric, cardboard, newspaper, etc. Out of these options, only landscape fabric and cardboard decompose–plastic breaks down into smaller pieces over time (microplastics) and contaminates the environment.

The third group of mulches are materials that don’t degrade, but they’re natural: crushed seashells, gravel, pebbles, stone chips, and slate.

Can You Use Compost and Mulch Interchangeably?  

Although both compost and mulch improve soil health, they should not be used interchangeably because they serve different purposes. Compost enriches the soil with nutrients while mulch protects plant roots and prevents weed growth.

Though mulches made of organic materials will eventually improve the soil’s quality withorganic matter and nutrients, there is a difference between types of mulch. For example, bark mulch and other woody materials take much longer to decompose than grass clippings and other fresh plant materials. The microorganisms in the soil need nitrogen to facilitate decomposition.

When to Use Compost vs. Mulch  

Your decision to use compost or mulch depends on your goal. If you want to typically improve the quality of your soil by adding nutrients, you should mature the compost and work it into the uppermost layer of your garden soil. On the other hand, if irrigation is primarily what you’re worried about, apply mulch instead–preferably one that decomposes gradually so that improving your soil becomes an added benefit over time. The best solution would be a combination of both practices: recycle as much yard waste and kitchen scraps for compost while still mulching those garden beds.

At Legarden Designs, we can help you identify the best uses for mulch and compost in your gardens! We also provide seasonal reviews and yearly walkthroughs. Contact us today to learn more about what we offer!

The Best Way to Edge a Lawn

The Best Way to Edge a Lawn

Depending on your perspective, grass can be a number of things. For gardeners, it might be a ground cover where planting wouldn’t work. Families who use their lawn for playtime see it as an essential clean area. And to others who are more pragmatic, it’s simply a means of walking from one place to another.

But for those who love lawn care, a well-manicured lawn is a work of art, and edging it is the final step in making it stand out from your average lawn. Giving your lawn sharp definition with an edge makes it look more polished. The only problem is that grass doesn’t cooperate very well. Here’s what you should know about edging your lawn.

Do You Have to Edge Your Lawn? 

No, edging the lawn will not impact its health in any way; it is simply a matter of aesthetics. Most homeowners don’t bother with this step. They are content to trim the grass that their lawnmower can’t reach using a string trimmer.

Though an edge doesn’t have direct benefits for your lawn’s health, it does offer some more practical advantages. An edge prevents rhizomes from invading mulched beds and also stops mulch from spilling out onto your lawn.

When to Edge Your Lawn 

Establishing an edge between a lawn and flower bed is most easily done in late spring after the ground has had time to dry out. This makes the soil easier to work with, and allows you to get your beds mulched before summer when weeds have more of a chance to grow.

If you apply mulch to your bed after digging the trench, you’ll get a clean look. However, if you try to reverse the process, soil will end up on your mulch.

How to Edge Your Lawn

Mark the Edge 

If you want a straighter edge, use a marker to make a line first, then follow it as you cut.

Tie Strings to the Stakes 

Tie a string to one stake, then the other. The string should be taut and about 1 inch from the ground.

Begin Using Edger 

To use the edger, stand on the side of the trench that will become the lawn (you should be facing the bed). Begin at either stake and push the edger down into place so that the blade is in line with string. The depth guard for this tool should be pointing toward you as you work. Move it around by wiggling it back-and-forth or from side to slide; keep it straight as you pull up and out of ground.

Make Side 2 of Trench 

Go to the other side of the trench so that you’re looking at the lawn. At either end, start plunging the edger down slowly at a 45-degree angle until you reach where you cut on side 1. Side 2 won’t be as neat as side 1, but it doesn’t have to be because it will eventually be hidden with mulch.

Apply Fresh Mulch 

If your bed needs an entirely new layer of mulch, do it now. Otherwise, if only a specific area bordering the trench requires attention, apply fresh mulch there.

Our garden services at Legarden Designs handles every element of the process – from the initial design consultation through the project’s completion. We also provide seasonal reviews and yearly walkthroughs. Contact us today!

Do You Need to Rake Leaves off the Lawn?

Do You Need to Rake Leaves off the Lawn?

Given that some leaves, such as those from red maple trees, look quite lovely on the grass, you might question why it’s necessary to use the rake and remove them. After all, it’s a lot of effort. Raking the leaves may not be required in certain situations, and leaving them may even be preferable for the environment. Raking your lawns’ leaves, on the other hand, is sometimes vital for their health.

Benefits of Raking Leaves 

Raking leaves has numerous advantages, both for you and your yard. The primary benefit of raking leaves is that it will contribute to the growth of your grass. A thick pile of fallen leaves can block sunlight from reaching grass, preventing the growth of some varieties of cool-season grasses, such as Kentucky bluegrass which are recharged in autumn. Cool-season lawn grasses usually grow best in moderately cool fall weather when they need “produce food” to fortify their root systems.

When to Rake 

There is an optimal time to rake leaves in autumn, and it’s before the first frost or snow of late autumn or early winter. Make sure to wait until the leaves are dry so they aren’t as difficult to rake up. Some people like to do this periodically as the leaves fall while others prefer waiting until all the leaves have hit the ground. It’s entirely up to you when you want to schedule your leaf-raking, but just make sure that dried leaves are easier to work with.

What to Do With the Leaves 

There are two options for converting your leaves into mulch in your yard: composting them or using them as a leafy fertilizer. Composting is the first option. Try cutting up the bigger leaves with a shovel or rake to speed up their decomposition when adding raked leaves to your compost pile.

The second approach to make mulch is by using dry raked leaves, also known as leaf litter. This technique also necessitates the use of a knife to chop up the dried foliage. The more finely you shred or chop your leaves, the faster they will decompose without mat testing and creating mold.

Reasons Not to Rake 

You might be surprised to hear that being lazy and not raking your leaves could actually be good for the environment. When leaves break down and decompose where they fall, they return essential nutrients back to the grass and soil. Additionally, the leaf coverage provides protection against erosion and weed growth.

Alternatives to Raking Leaves 

Raking leaves can be a fantastic form of exercise, but it’s also tiring. Use a leaf blower to save your back if you’re raking leaves. If you’ve got a thick layer of leaves, you’ll need a strong leaf blower with vacuuming capabilities so that you may remove the foliage and dander to the compost bin. Leaf blowers with vacuum options are available in various models for removing the leaf dander before it reaches the compost pile.

At Legarden Designs, we can help you with all of you gardening and landscaping needs! We also provide seasonal reviews and yearly walkthroughs. Contact us today to learn more about what we offer!

Why Tree Leaves Turn Brown

Why Tree Leaves Turn Brown

Tree care is an important long-term investment for your yard. Brown leaves, dead limbs, and other typical problems might appear on a healthy tree from time to Time, but they often indicate that the tree is dying. It’s critical to be aware of these worrisome symptoms and figure out what’s causing them so you can try to fix the problem. In many situations, the reasons are species-specific.

Over-Exposure to Sun 

Leaves with brown tips are often the consequence of excessive sun exposure, commonly known as “leaf scorch.” This can be made worse by factors such as a lack of water, high fertilization, root damage, and exposure to strong winds that can stress the tree and leaving it open to the sun. Young trees are especially prone to sun overexposure, therefore they should be planted in the spring or fall when UV radiation is less intense.

Frost Damage 

The brown leaves that appear on trees in spring can indicate frost damage. This temporary issue may spoil the tree’s look, however it is unlikely to kill the tree. If browning happens during summer, inadequate watering or high winds might be the cause. Leaves with black spots are probably due to a fungus that multiplies in moist conditions; thus, this is a frequent problem in humid climates.

Transplant Shock 

Transplant shock is a normal occurrence for recently planted trees. It can lead to a slew of issues, including leaf wilt, leaf scorch, yellowing leaves, and leaf rolling or curling. If a tree’s leaves turn brown but it still has green foliage, don’t assume it needs more water.

Insects and Disease 

It’s critical to establish what the problem is before taking action while treating your tree for insects or disease. When you’ve identified the issue, most of the time there is a sort of solution that will aid in eliminating the pests or sickness.

Insufficient watering 

Many trees require a significant quantity of water, especially if they are young or recently transplanted. If you don’t have an irrigation system in place, daily watering with a hose is required for many types of trees during the first few months. If your region experiences a severe drought, more mature trees will need to be watered to maintain their health.

Our garden services at Legarden Designs handles every element of the process – from the initial design consultation through the project’s completion. We also provide seasonal reviews and yearly walkthroughs. Contact us today!

Best Weeding Tips for Your Garden

Best Weeding Tips for Your Garden

There is a wealth of advice on the internet, but determining which technique for controlling weeds in your area may be difficult. Here’s a summary of the four greatest techniques for reducing weeds in your yard so you have a firm grip on it.

Leave No Room for Weeds

Weeds, like all other plants, compete for light, nutrients, and water. It’s far easier for weeds to establish a foothold in an open area than it is in one that has already been occupied by other established vegetation.

To plant densely, it is critical to leave as little room as possible for weeds. At the same time, you must avoid crowding as plants develop and mature. Poor air circulation due to overcrowding can lead to plant illnesses.

Mulch

One of the best methods to eliminate weeds from your lawn is to mulch it frequently. Mulching is another wonderful technique to keep weeds at bay. Organic mulch, such as bark or pinestraw, isn’t as long-lasting as an inorganic weed barrier, but organic mulch has a number of advantages.

Don’t Stir Up the Soil 

A basic guideline of weed control that seems to go against common sense is the fact that growing weed seeds requires light. The majority of weed seeds require light in order to germinate, and they will only sprout in the top two inches of dirt. As a result, when you till or dig up the earth, you’re sending thousands of cannabis seeds into direct sunlight where they must be in order for them to germinate.

Chemical Weed Control

Last resort should be to use inorganic pesticides to kill weeds. The hundreds of weed killers available on the market are divided into two types: pre-emergence weed preventives and post-emergence weed killers that destroy the actual plants. To combat specific weeds at the appropriate moment, you must first identify which weeds you’re battling and their lifecycle.

At Legarden Designs, we can help you create one! We also provide seasonal reviews and yearly walkthroughs. Contact us today to learn more about what we offer!