How Much Mulch Do I Need & Compost Filler

Question:

How much mulch do I need to apply around my plants?  I can’t seem to get a definite answer.  

Answer:

  •  EBMUD and the Contra Costa Water District recommend a two-three inch layer of mulch for trees and shrubs. The purpose of mulch is to insulate the ground and conserve moisture. Hence more is better
  • With a mature landscape, I’ll spread the mulch unevenly. There is a thicker layer in those areas that gets the hot afternoon sun and a thin layer in those areas with morning sun and under the canopy of trees and shrubs. Mulch is uniformly spread over new plantings.
  • There are many kinds of organic and non organic mulch available.  A two cubic bag of mulch covers twelve square feet at two inches thick, while a yard covers hundred square feet at three inches.
  • Mulch is not inexpensive, but it can reduce your water bill. You can reduce the cost of mulch by using the plant debris that you already have. This is the stuff gardeners blow away and deposit in your garden trimming container. Redwoods, pines, and cedars provide an excellent cover.
    • I use Oak leaves from several California Live Oak. Also, don’t overlook the household paper debris from shredded utility bills, monthly statements, etc. The shredded household paper debris can be used as a base and then covered with something visually be pleasing.
  •  Water is no longer an inexpensive commodity, so water conservation is a must. Water conservation is achieved by watering less frequently; hence mulching is an ideal answer as it maintains soil moisture by reducing evaporation and weeds.
    • Understanding how to adjust your water timer or controller is critical. You need to adjust your watering schedule weekly based on the temperature to eliminate one of the more waterings. This compensates for those weeks when it is hot. The volume of water always remains the same with each application.
    • EBMUD and the Contra Costa Water District have joined with local nurseries and garden centers, landscape suppliers, and home improvement centers to offer discounts on organic mulch. The Mulch Coupon Program aims to help you continue to garden while being water-wise. (See the links to those coupons below)
  •  With water restrictions and rate increases in the news, a mulching strategy makes sense in protecting your valuable landscape.

NOTE: The ‘mulch coupon’ links : https://www.ebmud.com/water/conservation-and-rebates/watersmart-gardener/magic-mulch/ https://www.ccwater.com/460/Landscape-Mulch-Coupons ... Google ‘Mulch Coupons” for other offers

Question:

 I’m trying to find enough material to fill my compost bin. I’m getting enough green material from my lawn clippings, but I need a source of brown materials. Is it true, you can add sawdust, and is there anything else I can use? 

Answer:

  •  Sawdust can be added to a compost pile. Raw sawdust is high in carbohydrates and low in nitrogen. By itself, it is very slow to decompose due to the lack of nitrogen compounds.
  • You can speed the process by adding Sulfate of Ammonia at the same time. Other alternatives are straw or shredded newspaper. You mixed two parts: handfuls, shovels,  truckloads, to one part of the green