Bark & Mulch Blowing 101

bark and mulch blowing 101: A person holds a yellow hose and dispenses bark mulch on a playground, using a Finn Bark Blower.

One of the best ways to enhance soil composition, prevent erosion, and improve the aesthetics of any landscaping project is to utilize bark and mulch blowing. For our purposes, bark and mulch blowing are effectively the same thing, and can generally be used interchangeably. Bark and mulch are both great choices to prevent weed growth and invasion, improve soil quality and fertility, hold moisture in the soil, and help it maintain an even temperature. 

Bark and mulch can also help protect topsoil from being carried away by water runoff and erosion. In addition to all these benefits for landscapes, bark and mulch also help flower beds, border areas, and landscape accents look their best. 

What is bark mulch?

Bark mulch is a popular choice for bark blowing because it’s relatively low cost and helps gardens and yards look neat and tidy. Bark mulch is made from the bark of trees, usually as a byproduct of timber logging, milling, and other wood processing.

Tree bark, and its mulch, is especially absorbent, making it a great choice for areas that retain water or are prone to sogginess. Bark mulch comes in several varieties, usually flakes or chunks, depending on which look you prefer, and a few different color variations depending on the species of tree the bark is from. Cedar, pine, and hemlock bark mulches are common, and each come with their own unique color. 

Bark mulches can last for several years when maintained properly, though typically will need to be replaced or replenished every 2 to 5 years. Because of its composition, bark mulch naturally biodegrades over time. 

Other types of mulch

Bark mulch comes in a variety of types, and the most commonly used for bark mulching include: 

  • Shredded hardwood bark mulch – this is generally a combination of barks from hard wood trees like maple and oak. 
  • Aged bark mulch – this nutrient-dense mulch is made mostly of bark with added nutrients to help support healthy, vibrant flower beds. 
  • Hemlock bark mulch – distinguishable by its rich coppery color, hemlock mulch is high in vitamin C which is essential for healthy plant growth, and as a result can be a productive addition to vegetable gardens. 
  • Cedar bark mulch – Because cedar is naturally insect-repellant, cedar mulch is a common choice for gardens and yards where pests are an issue. 

What are the benefits of bark mulch for landscaping?

Using barks and mulches in gardens and yards can have a positive impact for plant life and pest and weed control, all while helping yards look their best. Landscaping with bark mulches can do double duty when it comes to supporting a healthy yard or garden with a tidy, well-kept appearance.  

Increases soil fertility

Adding bark mulches to flower beds, vegetable gardens, and border areas can help replenish soil nutrients as the bark slowly biodegrades. This process helps introduce new and beneficial soil minerals and nutrients to support future plant growth and establishment. 

Different types of bark mulches can add different nutrients to soil, so you should ask your landscape professional what type of bark mulch would be right for your project. If you have a vegetable garden, for example, cedar mulch can help suppress and deter common garden pests, while an aged bark mulch may be a better nutrient fit to support vibrant flower gardens. 

Protects plants

Bark mulch can be especially useful to protect new or establishing plants. Because bark retains moisture and stabilizes soil temperatures, plants that have trouble adjusting to swings in weather and temperature can better withstand sudden cold snaps or heat waves. 

The moisture retention of bark also keeps moisture where it’s needed, helping plant root systems establish or extend themselves, even if the temperatures increase. Additionally, many bark mulches have the added benefit of being naturally insect repellant, helping discourage harmful garden pests from snacking on new or vulnerable vegetation. 

Hinders the spread of weeds

With a consistent coverage of bark mulch, weed seeds and starts have less opportunity to germinate and thrive in gardens and landscapes. By removing both the sunlight and oxygen needed for weeds to grow, mulches are an excellent way to keep garden spaces looking great while being relatively low maintenance and weed free. 

Looks appealing

There’s no denying that the look of fresh mulch serves as a classic, eye-catching backdrop for all kinds of landscaping projects, from residential to commercial. With the finished appearance of mulch on the ground, plants, shrubs, and trees shine brighter and look their best, without too much effort on the gardener or landscaper’s part. 

Mulch blowing vs Hand mulching

Mulching is generally achieved one of two ways: by hand or via mulch blowing. Mulch blowing is the process of spraying mulch from a truck via a pneumatic hose to predetermined areas. This can be done quickly and precisely. 

Hand mulching, the DIY approach to mulching, requires hand, or shovel, placement of mulch. Often, mulch can be delivered and placed in a large mound on a driveway or roadway for landscapers or homeowners to distribute how they like with wheelbarrows and shovels. This process can be much more time consuming and labor-intensive, but is generally more affordable. 

How do mulch blowers work?

Mulch blowers are generally diesel-powered machines available in trailer or truck-mounted configurations, to disperse mulch where it’s needed. An interior conveyor and air lock system feeds the mulch in the hopper into a hose where high powered air delivers the mulch wherever the operator places the hose. Some smaller models of mulch blowers can be hand fed, rather than fed mechanically. The operator can control the speed of the mulch blowing from a remote that can be worn as a belt so the mulch dispersal can be precisely controlled. Different types of mulch require different levels of air pressure to apply, adjusting for different moisture levels and mulch types. 

How to keep mulch from blowing away

If wind is a concern for your landscape project, taking steps to wet the mulch during and immediately after application can help mulch stay in place more consistently. In addition to keeping mulch moist, landscape netting or tackifiers can be used to stabilize mulch, especially on slopes or steep grades. Landscape edging can also be added to keep mulch in place and protect it from wind effects. 

Choosing the right mulch for your project is another great way to keep mulch from blowing away. Mulches like ground pine bark and large wood chips are naturally heavy and more water absorbent, which means they have a much better chance of staying in place and resisting windblown displacement. 

Takeaways

Bark and mulch blowing is a great way to protect your landscaping investment and help your project look its very best. From protecting vulnerable plants and shrubs to evening out damp areas and more, mulch blowing can address some of the most common landscaping headaches for the very best results. 
Learn more about our Finn bark and mulch blowing products, or find a dealer in your area for more information and rates.

Ron Ciolfi

Ron has been in the green industry since 1999 and is a Certified Professional in Erosion & Sediment Control (CPESC). Prior to being employed by Finn, Ron worked at an equipment dealer that not only sold Finn equipment but also specialized in erosion control supplies and materials. During his more than 20 years in the industry, Ron has been able to learn different erosion control techniques from his colleagues and customers and enjoys sharing that wealth of knowledge to help make his customers successful.
bark and mulch blowing 101: A person holds a yellow hose and dispenses bark mulch on a playground, using a Finn Bark Blower.

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