Should I purchase Mulch OR Ground Covering Conifers??
I went though a lot of trouble last year designing my beds, constantly changing the layout, conifers, etc. Well I finished redesigning most of it this spring and I'm very satisfied at how everything flows. I finally thought outside of the box... now I would like to do the same with what I'm considering for 2012.
This past winter I was able to save $600 towards mulch. This will not fill all of my beds, I would need around $1,800 to fill everything. I looked for free mulch both last year and so far this year, but came up short. I'm wanting to know if that $600 would be best spent on mulch or for me to pocket half and spend the other half on ground covering conifers. Mostly Junipers, maybe a few pines/spruces, and then just some plain evergreen ground covers to fill the space until my conifers got larger. Then once everything is larger, maybe toss some mulch between the plants to finish everything off. The one bed I have right now that is mulched is about about 40x30, it has (5) 1' tall conifers... so you can see what I my concern regarding mulch.
Pros to mulch: I won't have to mow inside the beds, keeps the weeds down.
Cons to mulch: Cost, have to replace every 4-5 years
Pros to ground covers: More cost effective, can be propagated/divided to fill in other beds.
Cons: May take awhile to fill in. Have to mow inside the beds.
Right now I have mulch around all my obstacles... deck, flagstone pathways, etc. These beds are completely filled with mulch. I have 8 beds that are not mulched. I just have roundup down to outline the shape. The conifers are all mulched. Right now I set my push mower on the lowest setting and scalp the grass. I only need to mow these beds twice a month, which takes about a half hour each time. So it isn't to bad. I'm not huge on putting roundup on the entire bed, I did last year to one of the beds and I spent more time going over that 1 bed with roundup than I did mowing the others.
Regarding the mulch: Another con is that it holds moisture in... well I have clay and that may not be a good thing. It rained a couple days ago, I tried digging in a mulched bed and it wasn't the best. I went over to the bed that has no mulch and the soil was fairly nice. This is because it had grass roots and stuff that broke up the clay and made it easier to work. the mulched bed has had mulch laying on top for a year which probably compacted it a little.
So I'm trying to look at it from both angles... what would be best for me both time/money/looks, and what would be best for my soil.
Sorry and thanks for reading such a large post =)