How this surprising landscape enhancement can revive your property

You’ve likely seen this enhancement right in front of your eyes, yet perhaps never noticed it. It’s an easy, cost efficient enhancement offering a significant impact on protecting your landscape and water bill. The enhancement is mulch. It is a great addition to help your trees and landscape thrive throughout the year. It especially plays a vital role during the hot summer months and during times of drought. So what is mulch and how can adding it improve your property’s landscape?


What is mulch?

Mulch is any type of material – natural or synthetic – serving as a cover and is spread over the surface of soil. It can take many forms including bark, compost, grass clippings, shredded leaves, and straw. Ideally it is economical, easy to apply and remove, stable, supplies organic matter to the soil, and free of weeds, insects, and diseases.


How it can help.

  • Creates insulation. Mulch helps reduce water from evaporating off soil thus reducing the need to water plants frequently. It also helps keep plant roots cooler during the hot months.
  • Suppresses weeds. Mulch is most effective in minimizing the growth of weeds when thoroughly applied to an area. Areas with low or bare spots are prone to weed growth.
  • Improves soil quality. No matter the consistency of the soil you’re dealing with, mulch can help. In sandy soil, it provides nutrients and improves the soil’s ability to hold water. In soil containing clay, it helps break up the clay allowing better air and water movement through the soil.


As Donald A. Rakow noted on Cornell University’s website, “When water droplets land on bare soil, the impact causes soil particles to fly in all directions, resulting in soil crusting and slow water infiltration. Most mulches break the impact of the droplets, reducing soil erosion and crusting and increasing the penetration of water into the soil.”


Where you should use it.

Different types of mulch should be used around different areas on your property. In flower beds, consider using bark mulch to curb weed growth, improve soil quality, and water absorption. Around trees, remove the grass around the trees and replace it with mulch. This minimizes competition from water and nutrients. It again helps keep the roots moist and reduces damage from lawn mowers. Your landscape professional can help identify other areas where mulch can be added to your property.


TCA’s San Francisco Bay Area-based Enhancements Manager, Quinton Guenther sums it up, “Installing bark mulch on your property will instantly add curb appeal making your planter beds look crisp and clean. Additional benefits are water retention, pesticide reduction (less weeds) and help naturally build up the soil quality as the organic material breaks down over time.”


Are you considering adding enhancements to your property this summer or fall? Our experts are happy to meet with you to help with enhancement projects you’re looking to work on. Why not drop us an email so we can help you make your property its best?

5 Tips for Fighting Weeds

Keep grass healthy and weed-free by mowing regularly.
Keep grass healthy and weed-free by mowing regularly.

Spring brings warmer weather, more sunshine, longer days, and the start of the growing season for plants. Unfortunately, plants also include weeds. Weeds tend to be the most resilient and prolific of all plants. Each weed type has its own unique growth and seed cycle that occur at various times during the year. The unpredictability of the weed cycle and vast root system, plus the constant seeding cycle, is why weeds continue to exist. Removing the whole root is the right approach, however close to impossible to achieve without destroying of the root system of the entire area. Any part of a weed root system will eventually lead to the re-establishment of the weed.


Inevitably there is one commercial property, city park, or highway medium that has a perfect lawn – super green and mysteriously, no evidence of weeds. What are they doing, that you aren’t?


Here are five tips for fighting weeds that will deliver healthy and attractive parks and landscapes.

  1. Rake the yard. Once the snow has disappeared from a property, don’t instantly go wild with chemicals. Over the winter, plant matter may have accumulated on top of the grass shading the soil and root structure. Wake up and stimulate growth through light raking.
  2. Stomp out seeds. As temperatures reach 50-65oF apply a pre-emergent type herbicide to combat the seeds (we highly recommend seeking expert landscape advice). This treatment creates a barrier in the soil, when seeds germinate they either grow down or up to the barrier and die off.  Once this has been applied, water to start the treatment but don’t over water and allow the product to work undisturbed.
  3. Fertilizer. Once temperatures are consistently warm, there are a variety of fertilizers that can help. Your outdoor maintenance provider can assist in finding the best mix. In fact, Terracare Associates offers a custom blend that helps with water absorption and fertilization. It is important to have three specific nutrients in the mixture.
    1. Nitrogen (N): Nitrogen will help green the plant
    2. Phosphate (P): Phosphorous helps promote root growth
    3. Potassium (K). Potassium promotes overall plant health (i.e. a good “winterizer” will have a high Potassium number)

    Fertilizing throughout the season improves grass health and stimulates growth so there is no available space for weeds to try to compete.

  4. Mow regularly. Mowing is a key component of the annual process. Each type of grass has an ideal cutting height for health and growth. Mowing at the proper height is an effective weed control practice and will help with the health of your lawn plant. Depending on the weather and time of year, mowing should occur every 4-5 days or every week. Our company often uses mulching mowers; this reduces the amount of matter sent to the landfill and returns the finely clipped grass to the soil as a fertilizer itself.
    • Expert tip: Ask your landscape professional what type of turf is best for your property. You may have a grass that is not ideal material for your landscape.
  5. Spot spraying. Larger properties tend to have sporadic weeds throughout the turf. Terracare’s best practices include spot spray instead of a wholesale treatment. The “down- stream” concerns of run-off can be hazardous to the environment.  Be cognizant of when and how chemicals are washed out into storm drains.


Sticking to these steps will help curb weeds on your property and make it a healthy, beautiful, and sustainable landscape for years to come.


Bill Winfield serves as Director of Operations for Terracare Associates overseeing all public infrastructure operations. Currently, he is the lead project manager on the largest public private partnership contract in the country between City of Centennial, Colorado, and CH2MHill. In addition, he supervises operations of the public works departments for Northwest Parkway and Lone Tree, Colorado, and Cottonwood Heights, Utah, and is responsible for an additional 23 infrastructure contracts and projects. He is a graduate of the University of Wyoming.