Tag Archives: Shredded Bark Mulch

Conserve Water by Improving Your Soil Quality

Garden Soil vs. Potting Soil

It’s hot in Utah, and very dry right now. You’ve probably heard our news stories about lakes and reservoirs already sitting at alarmingly low levels. Pineview Reservoir is currently registering 18 feet below normal for this time of year, and Lake Powell is hitting historic lows. KSL News interviewed Riley Olsen with Weber Basin who says: “We had a quite bad snowpack, it wasn’t historic lows, but it definitely wasn’t good.” Because of the poor snowpack, soil moisture levels are not good either. Olsen explains that “when that snow’s melting, it’s just going straight into the ground. Not much of the melt is making it to the reservoirs.” Olsen’s advice for Utahns is “do everything can to conserve every drop.”

Utah has promoted wise watering for years, but are you doing your part to slow the flow and save H2O? Long, deep watering cycles (not daily) are better for your plants and lawn and our waterways. Also, try to water before 10am so roots can absorb the water before the hot sun peaks. If you’re already doing this, what else can you do? Well, that’s where we come in. The right soil and some good mulch can make a world of difference.

Boost Soil and Use Mulch

High quality soil is imperative to water conservation. You don’t want irrigation water and what little rain we get to run off and not be absorbed into the places you want. Quality soil allows for this absorption, going deep into the ground where the roots are taking hold. Deeper roots mean healthier plants and less watering. Reducing soil erosion and lessening the need for pesticides and fertilizer are also benefits to using a rich, quality soil. Incorporate organic compost with a premium blend of products, such as alfalfa, grain by-products, straw, and compressed steer manure to boost poor quality native soils and promote better water retention by loosening compacted soils.

Another great water-wise landscaping technique is the proper use of mulch. Organic mulch aids in the reduction of evaporation around your flowers and plants. Boost this with a drip system and you’ll be able to sleep better at night knowing you’re maximizing efforts to conserve in our desert community. Not only is mulch a beautiful topper, but when you apply 3 to 4 inches in your beds or gardens, it will help keep out weeds and retain moisture for those thirsty plants.

Some other quick tips to being water wise are to fix any leaks you see quickly, stay on top of weeding so water doesn’t go to unnecessary plants, adjust your mower to a higher setting to shade your grass and promote a deeper root system, and even wash your dog outside and close to flowers or an area that’s dry in your lawn—your dog will love the cool water during the summer, too.

Being water wise doesn’t mean you need to xeriscape your entire yard. With a few smart switches, you can have a beautiful, green, water wise yard all summer long. At The Dirt Bag, we sell the highest quality soil prep, organic composts, and mulch options to maximize your conservation efforts.

Keep Young, Vulnerable Trees from Freezing this Winter

Whether you planted a young tree in the past few months or you’re just worried about particularly vulnerable trees freezing this winter, there are things you should do right now to protect them. Count on The Dirt Bag to be your go-to resource for all things gardening year-round, and that includes during the coldest months. Freezing is any temperature 32 degrees and below, and we certainly hit those numbers throughout the state. Any time a younger tree has to withstand sustained periods of freezing, it’s at risk of freezing leaves and branches.

Some trees are inherently more at risk of freezing than others. These include trees we probably don’t have in this part of the country, such as citrus, Eugenia, Catalpa, Jacaranda, and Oleander to name just a few. It’s no surprise that tropical and sub-tropical plants just don’t do so well in freezing weather, but trees that are tender, young, or with new growth are also at risk even if they are native to the area.

Add in the fact that winters are getting colder and harsher, and that’s a recipe for a possible tree freezing disaster. It’s not too late to take action. Here’s what you can do to give your trees an edge during the icy season.

An Added Layer of Protection for Your Trees

The first step is to simply cover your trees. The best materials are burlap, tarps, and even sheets. Make sure the coverage extends from the ground up so you can capture the heat from the earth. Frames and stakes are a must to reduce any gaps between the material and the ground. For potted plants, it’s a lot simpler—just bring them inside. If that’s not possible, a covered area is better than being exposed to the elements. 

Bear in mind that moist soil is going to absorb more solar radiation, and it’s also going to re-radiate during the night. For larger trees that need to be protected, sprinklers turned on during 4 – 6 a.m. (the coldest timeframe) can be beneficial. This utilizes latent heat that gets released when water transitions from liquid to solid. Whenever an ice crystal develops on a leaf, those crystals are drawing moisture out of the leaf. The resulting, damaging dehydration can be minimized if you make sure the plant or tree isn’t already in a deep state of drought.

You can also take some steps to minimize freezing damage by getting rid of any weeds or turf below tree canopies. Bare soil is the best to absorb and reflect heat. Mulch, and particularly wood chip or shredded bark mulch, helps to prevent loss of moisture while also insulating roots. You don’t have to wait until spring to mulch! You can also plant trees and plants that are prone to freezing close to reflective heat sources like walls and buildings. 

If a freeze does occur, don’t panic—and don’t prune right away. Wait until spring because the damage might look worse than it is. However, if a dieback is severe, you can protect newly unshaded areas of a trunk or branch with a whitewash or partial cover. For more tips, contact The Dirt Bag today.

Match Your Mulch to Your Garden Goals

The Dirt Bag The Mulch for your Garden

At The Dirt Bag, one of the most common questions we get is what type of mulch is best. There’s no single answer because it completely depends on your gardening goals. You need mulch in your garden because the right mulch helps you save water, fight weeds, and keep pests at bay. This means healthier veggies, fruits, and flowers. Some mulch is designed for specific crops, but let’s start with the basics. There are two primary types of mulch: organic and inorganic. Organic is comprised of what used to be living things like straw, wood chips, pine needles, and so on. Inorganic mulch is man-made like plastic and landscape fabric strips.

Organic and inorganic mulch both minimize weeds, but organic mulch nourishes the soil at the same time. Inorganic mulch isn’t meant to break down, so they don’t enrich the soil, but it can still be the right mulch for you. For example, black plastic is a common inorganic mulch that keeps the soil warm even at night so veggies that love the heat, like cherry tomatoes, thrive with this type of mulch.

Mulch Matching

One of the most well-known types of mulch is shredded bark or wood chips. It looks pretty, but reserve this type of mulch for bordering shrubs, making pathways, or for perennial flower beds, Vegetables, and annual flowers aren’t the best mates for bark chips because it’s tough to tend a garden when you have to dig past big chunks of bark. Grass clippings are another popular item, and you can harvest your own every time you mow. They are good for lawn fertilizer and to use in veggie gardens that require more nitrogen.

Compost can be a great way to enrich the soil, but the compost needs to be damp. Too much dry mulch isn’t good for plant roots. The best way to use compost is to spread a thin layer on top of other mulch and around your plants. This will help your compost retain moisture and stay biologically active to optimize flower, fruit, and vegetable growth. You can also use straw or hay, especially for veggie gardens. Weed-free hay and salt hay are good picks for not only looking beautiful but also helping to prevent weeds, keep in moisture, and get an extra dose of organic matter as it breaks down. Keep it away from any stems of fruit trees or vegetables, otherwise, rodents and slugs might get attracted to it.

Finally, there’s a plastic mulch. Put the plastic over smooth soil to make your own microclimate that stays three degrees warmer than it would otherwise. You can safeguard your crops, stop rotting, and keep weeds in check. There are a few different types of plastic mulching, including infrared-transmitting plastics that are costlier but offer even better results. To learn more about mulching options and to get your gardening goals achieved more quickly, contact The Dirt Bag today for a customized action plan.