Running a garden center in Florida over the years has taught me a thing or two about low maintenance gardening. People move to Florida to retire, relax, and pursue their hobbies. Yard maintenance is dreaded by many in the Sunshine State. Everyday we are asked by customers at our nursery “what is the best solution to common wood mulch problems?” Most don’t want to weed their gardens in the summer heat nor do they want to spend money year after year mulching their beds. There are options and here we will look at a few of them.
Wood mulch problems are obvious; especially in a climate that sees torrential downpours combined with blistering heat.
Stone can make an excellent groundcover. Interestingly some local communities disallow the use of stone in landscaping due to safety concerns surrounding rocks thrown by mowers. It is imperative when using stone in Florida that a geo-textile fabric (aka weed block) be used. The cloth provides one function; keeping the stones from sinking into the soil after a few years. Unfortunately, without regular maintenance the “weed fabric” becomes the problem over time. Soil collects on top of the fabric and weed seed will germinate in the potting soil. Once the root of the weed pushes through the fabric the root structure seeks the moisture held in the woven or perforated fabric. Once this happens you can not pull the weed without lifting/distorting the weed mat. Assuming regular maintenance is planned, especially starting in the third year, stone is a great choice. One yard of stone generally weighs one ton and will cover 100 square feet.
Glass Mulch is really neat! The colors are often nearly iridescent but the cost is simply too much for our local customers. Awesome for fire pits and water features but for general landscaping we don’t carry glass mulch due to the high cost and limited availability.
Pine Straw is a common landscape product used from Central Florida through the Carolinas and Georgia. Inexpensive and often taken from local pine forests, pine straw offers a different texture and color than other products. It is not uncommon for customers to request new pine straw 2 and 3 times a year. Although the product is extremely cost effective, don’t forget to figure labor costs into your annual budget. Some communities are questioning the use of pine straw due to flammability concerns.
Synthetic Pine Straw offers the same look and texture of natural pine straw without the need to replace it multiple times a year; it actually lasts for years. Textraw produces this great product and it is more expensive initially but it offers an excellent long term solution.
Rubber Mulch is our preference for a few reasons. I am adamantly opposed to the use of weed fabric in our local area. We provided landscape design and maintenance for decades and many days our crews were out raking up thick rotten beds of wood mulch and ripping out the weed fabric underneath due to the fact it had degraded over time or weed seed had so infiltrated the landscape bed that the battle was simply too large for our customer. To this day I will not offer our customers weed fabric even if they are using one of the many colors of wood mulch we sell.
Rubber Mulch is the weed blocker. It stays dry and traps the airborne weed seed in the rubber where it dehydrates. It performs as weed block should without trapping organic matter at the surface-it simply washes through. This is why we insist that all rubber mulch should be put down at 2″ thick; any thinner and the rubber mulch will only provide come color. Many brands of rubber mulch are sold in small .8 cubic foot bags (approximately 20 lbs) and the manufacturers show coverage tables on the bag listing one inch thick so that it appears that the bag goes further. One common issue our customers have is that they buy these bags to try, and it becomes obvious that the great low price they found at the Big Box simply doesn’t save them any money over Everlast Rubber Mulch. Everlast does not use crumb rubber filler and is packaged in a 1.15 cubic foot bag (approximately 30 lbs) which covers 7.5 square feet at the magic 2″ depth. Available in bulk as well. A yard of rubber mulch weighs one third of a yard of stone (700 lbs) and covers 170 square feet in the landscape. If you just want some color go ahead and figure 15 square feet of coverage per bag. We manufacture and sell Everlast Rubber Mulch and our proud that we offer great pricing, excellent performance, and real world gardening solutions to all of our customers. If you are ever in Central Florida come by and check out the nursery. I have collected some rare and unusual plant species over the years….ever seen black grass?
By the way….for all the naysayers on rubber mulch and stunting plant growth. I have been growing azaleas among other species in my landscape for years and they are gorgeous and tough for most people to grow due to the high water and acid requirements. Our experience shows us daily that plants thrive-long term-in Everlast Rubber Mulch.