How To Amend Your Soil with Compost and Mulch

Garden health begins with soil health. Compost improves soil biological properties by providing organic matter to fuel soil organisms. Compost can reduce outdoor watering by an estimated 25 percent. Adding mulch on top of your garden protects the soil and prevents soil erosion. If you would like to use this strategy for your stormwater retention feature, receipt of payment for both compost and mulch are required. Follow these steps to amend your soil and add a layer of mulch:

Step 1: When you remove your turf make sure you are removing enough soil to ensure when the landscape is backfilled with compost and mulch that the landscape is at or below the sidewalk and it is not vulnerable to material runoff.

Step 2: Mix three inches of compost into the top 6 inches of soil throughout your entire working area. Soak your entire landscape area with water.

Step 3: Install your plants.

Step 4: Install at least three inches of mulch to area, ensuring you leave a 2-3 inch bare soil area around the base of each plant. Installing mulch too close to the base of your new plants can cause too much moisture to be retained, either in the soil or in the mulch. When a thick layer of mulch is piled too close to plants, this will lead to fungal and bacterial diseases.

Step 5: Create a topdressing calendar for your garden. Mulch must be updated on a yearly basis to ensure optimal health of your garden. Mulch is an organic matter that decomposes over time and is blown away by strong winds and rain, so it will need to be topdressed regularly.

Helpful Tips:

  1. Shredded mulch or pebbles are better than large pieces of bark that will float away.
  2. If you begin to see turf or weeds growing, pull them out as soon as possible to eliminate weed and turf infestation of your new garden.
  3. Protect small seedlings during the dry season from snails and slugs that seek moisture under the mulch and threaten new growth.
  4. Place physical guards around saplings to decrease the risk of destruction by rodents.
  5. Use this online calculator to calculate how much mulch and compost you will need for your garden: