By Gene and Katie Hamilton
A spread of mulch always looks good in a garden bed because it creates a uniform background for the soil, which lets the flowering plants stand out. And below the surface a layer of mulch reduces evaporation, slows the growth of weeds and protects the roots of plants in temperature extremes like no other material can. Be careful not to apply mulch close to the foundation of the house because it may invite termites. When mulch is an organic material like wood chips or bark, it improves the quality of soil as it decomposes. If mulch has a downside, we don’t know what it is, and there’s no job easier than adding it to garden beds.
Before buying mulching material, call your local town office to see if they have a free mulch program. Sometimes the grounds and maintenance department of a town or county creates mulch from trees that have been cut down and they make it available to the public.
Here's how much it costs. To lay a 4-inch-deep spread of bark mulch in a 300-square-foot area, a landscape or garden service will charge $248, which includes the material and labor. You can buy the mulch for $150 and do it yourself, and pocket a 40 percent saving. You’ll find organic mulch sold shredded or as chunks or nuggets, depending where you live. You’ll need a wheelbarrow, hand weeder, shovel and rake to do the job.
DIY Hassle Alert
If you’re buying several bags of the material and your vehicle isn’t large enough to transport the material, have it delivered. It's heavy so get help moving it to where it's needed.
Before spreading mulch on a garden bed, weed the soil, make sure that it’s level and give it a good soaking of water. Rather do anything than work in your yard? Go to Home Advisor, a free referral service that matches homeowners with local contractors.
From Food Forward.org here's more information about mulch What, Why, and How.
That sums it up. Knowing the average cost to install mulch lets you compare doing it yourself with what you can expect to pay a contractor. To customize the cost to where you live add your ZIP Code in the cost box.
Improvement and Repair Cost Updated 2020