The use of mulch in Northern Michigan is more than just making your landscape pretty. Adding a splash of color to your landscapes with mulch adds a tremendous amount of curb appeal. It makes your landscapes look thought through and complete. Although the complementary visual effects of mulch are tremendously appealing, there are many other important reasons to use mulch in our landscapes.

Benefits of Mulch

Weed Control

A thin layer of mulch (2”-3”) is all it takes to keep most of Michigan’s common weeds from overtaking our flower beds.


A thin layer of mulch is a great way to form barriers around our plants and trees. This way the lawnmower and the weed whip are nowhere near our beautiful plants and trees to cause damage.

Air Flow

Loose mulch allows air and gasses to enter and escape the loose soil beneath so the root systems of our plants and trees can breathe. 

Soil Moisture Control

During the middle of summer, the scorching sun accompanied by a stiff breeze can rob a tremendous amount of moisture from the ground in a matter of minutes. A thin layer of mulch can ensure that the moisture stays in the ground where it is needed.


Shredded wood mulch decomposes, providing natural food to your trees and plants. Don’t be afraid to use or add grass clippings and leaves to your flower beds as a natural mulch to provide extra nutrients as they decompose.

Tips and Tricks of Using Mulch

Use rocks

Rocks can be used as a more permanent and maintenance-free approach. Rocks are a great alternative if you do not have any wind protection where organic mulch may blow around. Another application to use rocks is if you do not have gutters on your roof and the rainwater washes away organic mulch or splashes dirt onto your siding. Smooth beach rocks around 4”-6” diameter work really well. They are heavy enough not to move around and big enough to see. If one does escape into your lawn you have a good chance to see it before the lawnmower turns it into a projectile.

Use an organic weed prohibitor

Apply an organic weed prohibitor before laying new mulch.

Use in the Spring

Spring is the best time to spread mulch, usually after the ground has had time to warm up. This is usually May in the Traverse City area. You can still spread it in summer and fall, but you will just miss out on some of the benefits.

Be cautious when using colored mulch

If you use a color-dyed mulch, try not to spread it right before a big rainstorm, and try to let it dry out for a couple of days after spreading so the dye has a chance to set. This will give you a better chance that the color stays vibrant longer into the season. Also, be careful not to get fresh dyed mulch onto surfaces where the dye can stain like concrete, pavement, patios, and siding.

Use an edger or shovel

Define your flower beds and tree beds by using an edger or shovel. This will give a crisp clean line definition that looks amazing.

I hope this helps you “do-it-yourself-ers”! As always, we here at Lakeview Lawn and Snow can help you from beginning to completion to make your lawn the best looking one on the block! Give me a call if you need any help along the way.

Joe Stringer