## How Much Soil or Mulch Do I Need For My Landscaping Project?

Gardening season is in full swing as evidenced by all the requests for soil and mulch we receive from our Harvest Power website. As part of these requests we get a common question: How much do I need? We thought it would be helpful to walk through a few real-world examples.

First, some background info on calculations and products.

• To know the root of calculations, there are 27 cubic feet in a cubic yard (3’ x 3’ x 3’), the common measurement for selling soil and mulch.
• To get a sense of volumes, a full-size pickup truck holds about 2 cubic yards. A volkswagon beetle is roughly the same volume as 15 cubic yards.

Next, let’s walk through a few real-world examples and calculate how much material is needed for a project.

NOTE: If you want to skip learning the math, then head straight over to our landscape calculator.

### EXAMPLE #1: We need soil for two 8′ x 4′ x 18″ raised beds.

(~BD in Windsor Locks, CT)

Okay, BD. Let’s figure this out. So first let’s pretend these two raised beds are stretched end-to-end. They would measure 16’ long x 4’ wide and 18” tall. Now let’s go through the steps

• Convert all dimensions into feet (18” ÷ 12” = 1.5’)
• Multiply length x width x height (16’ x 4’ x 1.5’ = 96 cubic feet)
• Divide (96 ÷ 27 = 3.56 cubic yards)

Therefore, you’ll need about 3.5 cubic yards of garden blend for this project. We recommend rounding up to 4 cubic yards since you can almost always use more product top-dressing your lawn, the raised beds, or mixed into potting containers.

### EXAMPLE #2: “How much mulch do I need to cover a 20’ x 30’ new garden with 3” of soil amendment?”

(~NM in Surrey, BC)

1. Convert all dimensions from inches into feet. (3” ÷ 12” = .25 feet)
2. Multiply the three dimensions together (length x width x height) to find the number of cubic feet needed. (20’ long x 30’ wide x 0.25’ high = 150 cubic feet)
3. Divide the cubic feet by the number of cubic feet in a cubic yard (27) to find the number of cubic yards (150 ÷ 27 = 5.56 cubic yards)

There you go, NM: You will need about 5-6 cubic yards for your project!

### EXAMPLE #3: I’m covering my front- and back- landscape with 2” of mulch. The area is about 20’ x 10’. I want to know how much product I’ll need in bags since I don’t have a pickup truck or trailer, and I think it might be easier to pick up a bunch of product in my car and then carry them throughout the property instead of dealing with a wheelbarrow.

(~KH in Virginia)

Okay, KH. Here we go, with a modified step to convert to bags.

• Convert all dimensions into feet (2” ÷ 12” = 0.16’)
• Multiply length x width x height (20’ x 10’ x 0.16’ = 33 cubic feet)
• FOR CUBIC YARDS, we’d divide (33 ÷ 27 = 1.23 cubic yards). BUT INSTEAD we want to find out how many bags of mulch KH needs. So if she wants 1-cubic foot bags she’ll need to divide by 1 (33 ÷ 1 = 33 1-cubic foot bags). If she wants 2-cubic-foot bags she’ll need to divide by 2 (33 ÷ 2 = 17 2-cubic-foot bags).

Voila, our landscape calculator comes to the same conclusions (see screenshot).

### Feeling inspired?

Hopefully this post helps you get a feel for dimensions and how much product you’ll need for your next landscaping project. We offer many quality soil and mulch products in bulk and bagged quantities. Or simply head on over to our contact page to request a quote. Happy landscaping!

## 5 Tips on Detoxing Your Landscape, as featured in Natural Nutmeg

It’s always fun to partner with local publications that support wellness of the mind, body and spirit. We believe the soil is a key ingredient for wellness. In the current issue of Natural Nutmeg magazine, Harvest presents 5 tips to Detox Your Landscape which include:

1. Get on a path. No really, it’s not just a metaphor.
2. Lay down a magical layer of mulch.
3. Amend your soil with compost.
5. Shelve the chemicals.

Focused on the Connecticut market, the entire March 2018 issue of Natural Nutmeg serves up lots of detox tips; our Landscape Detox article is on pp. 22-23.

## The Circular Economy: Foodies and Natural Living Advocates Join the Conversation

Recyclers are typically known for driving the circular economy: e.g. putting things back to use instead of to the landfill. At Harvest, we’ve noticed a trend in the media signaling that foodies and health conscious folks are increasingly shaping the conversation. Here are four reasons why this might be happening.

## Targeting wasted food saves money and resources.

Folks in the restaurant industry know that, in the United States, 40% of the food we produce is going to waste (see Wasted! video, below). Targeting this dumpster-bound material by with the classic three R’s – reducing it (aligning supply with demand with data-driven programs such as LeanPath), reusing it (see this clever reuse of food waste in ice cream), or recycling it (composting) – saves costs and resources. Foodie and columnist Andy Clurfeld spurred her restauranteer readers to do just this in NJ Monthly’s article, “Waste Not: Pro Chef, Home Cook – Everyone Can Compost.

## Good soil grows yummier food.

By recycling organics back to the earth, it improves the soil which enhances the crop’s flavor. Increasingly, restaurants have direct relationships with local sources of produce and protein. Those same farms that provide veggies can then possibly take in the veggie scraps for composting. Compost begets healthier soil, which yields stronger, tastier veggies. It’s a full circle of win win wins.

## People care about safe and clean environments.

Speaking of circles, the apt phrase “What goes around comes around” comes into play when we’re talking about organic waste and healthy soil. Compost helps eliminate the bad, and helps boost the good. As Harvest recently contributed to a New England publication:

Did you know that in one teaspoon of living soil there are 100 million to 1 billion bacteria? These bacteria act like an enormous, microscopic, hungry army that metabolizes surrounding materials. Similar to if you surrounded yourself with a robust community of diverse individuals that supported your growth, compost is like a mini ecosystem party. The billions of microorganisms in each teaspoon of compost mentioned earlier in this article help regulate the soil, suppress disease, and discourage pests. It’s a small, wild world teeming with life, and compost helps the good guys keep playing all season long.

## Food waste is the epicenter of energy, nutrients, and innovation.

Recently, Edible Orlando columnist Marta Madigan took a tour of Harvest’s Energy Garden in Orlando, Florida. In the resulting article she describes the transformation of regional food scraps into clean energy and class AA granular fertilizer. With this facility, Central Florida is at the forefront of innovation.

Do you consider yourself a foodie or a health nut? What’s your interaction with food waste?

## What’s the return on investment (ROI) for mulch?

It’s tax season. It’s also the time of year we refer to as “mulch madness.” These two seemingly unrelated events dovetail into some earthy calculations.

The query: What’s the return on investment (ROI) for mulch?

We know, inherently, that mulch is “good”: it reduces weeds, maintains soil temperatures, retains moisture, and enhances the soil. But what is its value?

Well calculations will vary depending on a range of factors (e.g. amount of time to initially prune, cost of mulch, time it takes to apply it, appreciation for beauty, seasonal and product variation and how it interacts with the landscape, etc). But let’s toss those quibbles aside, make some assumptions, and try to provide some shape around this notion.

First, let’s look at the scope of the case study in the following video of a “Tree Pedicure”:

It took about 20 minutes to do a tune up on this tree: trimming suckers, removing vegetation to the drip line, and adding a 3” layer of mulch spread evenly away from the trunk. This includes pulling out supplies and tools and getting organized, and putting away tools.

Next, let’s refresh our memories on how to calculate return on investment, or ROI. In short it’s the (gains – investment costs) / (investment costs). Written out, it’s the gains minus the investment costs, divided by the investment costs.

So, for example, if I sold orange juice for \$8 (my gains) and it cost me \$4 to make it (my investment costs), my ROI would be (\$8-\$4 / \$4) = 1, or a 100% ROI.

Finally, let’s dive in and look at this case of applying mulch. Using really broad and fast brushstrokes, here are the background metrics for the calculations.

Investment Costs:

• Time (20 minutes, with time valued at \$60/hr to make math easy): \$20
• Materials (2 bags of mulch, with a very generous budget): \$10
• TOTAL INVESTMENT COSTS: \$30

Gains:

• Time (since the mulch will repress weeds, one gains back the time not needed to weed throughout spring and summer, estimating 5 minutes per month for the next six months: \$30
• Look (how much one would pay to look out over a pretty landscape; say \$0.10 per day for six months): \$18
• Nutrients added to soil slowly over time (yikes. With no idea how to calculate this. Let’s give it a small value): \$2
• TOTAL INVESTMENT GAINS: \$50

So the ROI on this particular project is…drum roll please… [(\$50-\$30)/\$30] = 66%.

A 66% ROI is stunning.

This example is, of course, an example. It’s an illustration. It’s a way to think about the time and money that you could spend this spring tuning up your landscape and applying mulch – while weeds are still small! – and how much gain, or return, you could experience from that investment.

Have tips on how you would tweak these calculations?  Please share!

## Landscape Inspiration: Mixing Gardens, Raised Beds, and Whimsical Features

In this post we add a new dose of landscaping inspiration presenting a backyard garden that mixes a berry patch, gardens, raised beds and whimsy. What we really liked about this backyard garden is the mixing and blending of function, fashion, chaos, order, whimsy, and practical. Here is a virtual tour.

On the south side of the garden, in the late spring/early summer, the raspberries produce a bumper crop of berries, perfect for a morning bowl of granola or evening fruity dessert.

The heart of the garden features an abundance of greenery with plants every which way that create a wild feel. Bursts of flowers provide colorful accents amidst the tomatoes, peppers, kale, lettuce, squash, and other veggie plants. Yet just when it feels too wild, a clear pathway of bricks and stepping stones allow access and create a sense of order.

In addition, throughout the garden, veggies planted directly in the ground grow alongside potted plants and container plants, such as this chard next to a barrel of cosmos and dahlias.

On the outskirts of the foliage where the garden transitions to a bit of lawn lies a sweet retired wagon that serves as a mini raised garden bed. The 3-inch layer of quality potting mix, plus a blend of flowers and herbs, creates the perfect accent to a small space.

This garden also integrates a bit of whimsy, illustrated here with a ceramic chicken nestled in the greens. (A nice juxtaposition to the real chickens hanging out in their coop in the corner.)

Curious: Which of these garden features appeal to you?

## How to Mulch Around Trees: Spread Evenly!

Volcano Mulching (BAD) versus Proper Mulching (GOOD). Image courtesy of Madison Tree Care and Landscaping

It is ideal to apply a 2”-to-3” layer of mulch around a tree that extends out to its drip line. This layer of mulch does a few things including:

• Prevents weeds
• Retains moisture
• Maintains consistent soil temperatures
• Provides a nice buffer between equipment (mowers, weed wackers, etc) and tree trunks
• Gives a finished look to the landscape

However, take care not to cover the base of the tree’s trunk and its root flare with mulch. The sapling in this photo was not mulched properly. It was “volcano mulched,” meaning the mulch was piled in a volcano shape right up to the bark of the trunk. If you pile mulch against the trunk, it will hold moisture there and may lead to root rot. It can also lead to the tree sending up secondary roots, which are weaker roots that will likely get zapped by the sun, frozen by frost, or strangle the tree.  Not good. If you want to meet someone who hates volcano mulching with a passion, meet Ken Druse, a guru of gardening who has tons of tips to help you flourish in your landscape.

Instead, mulch your trees starting a few inches out from the trunk out to the drip line or beyond, as far as an 8-foot diameter. The root system of the tree extends far beyond its drip line. In a forest, that entire system benefits from naturally-occurring mulch.

Also, if you have old mulch around your trees, it may need to be raked to ensure it’s not matted. Otherwise, if it’s thick and matted water and air may not be able to seep through to the tree’s root system. Mulch that’s matted can also become weed-ridden.

Organic mulches usually need to be replenished a few times a year to ensure the right depth of mulch (roughly 3 inches) protects and nourishes your trees.

Check it out: In this video these guys identify mulch volcanos that are suffocating/disabling the trees, and save a few by removing a primary layer of mulch, then airblasting away the extraneous mulch, trimming away the secondary root structure, and re-applying a 2” layer of mulch (not next to the trunk!) and out to the drip line.

# Mulch, Compost & Topsoil

Are you scrambling to get a good Mother’s Day present? (And if you are a mother, have you considered getting yourself your own present?) Consider the gift of simple gardening! We know, it might sound random, but spreading a 2-3” layer of mulch now will spare you hours of weeding later in the season. If you want to dig deeper, high-quality soil blends will also bring a bountiful harvest later in the season.

Harvest New England produces the high-quality landscaping products you want at four convenient CT locations. Quality mulch selections, rich organic compost, enriched topsoil and custom soil blends can be picked up at any of our locations.

## Yard Waste Disposal & Organics Recycling

Is a Spring Clean Up still on your horizon? Need yard waste recycling or wood and stump grinding services? We recycle organic materials like logs, branches and tree limbs, leaves, brush. We’re also your resource for food waste composting. Bring your yard waste to any of our locations in Connecticut for fast service. Harvest brings decades of organics recycling management experience to serving the “green” landscaping needs of homeowners, businesses, and municipalities.

## Get a Price Quote for Mulch, Compost or Topsoil

FIRST, TELL US WHAT YOU NEED. Go to our contact page and request a quote. If you have a specific project in mind (leveling the yard, topdressing the lawn, mulching the landscape, installing raised beds) feel free to share! We love to hear more about how our products are being used. If you have a question about our products, ask away!  We’re happy to answer your questions.

SECOND, WE CONFIRM THE DELIVERY DETAILS WITH YOU. We’ll give you a call (or email) back within 18 hours – usually sooner – and verify your order details and payment information.  If you have any question marks we can often help you figure out how much you need, and which products will make the most sense for your needs.

THIRD, THE DELIVERY GETS SCHEDULED. Our policy is to dump on the driveway or just off the edge with the tires on the driveway.

NOTE! When scheduling a delivery there are a few important things to consider. Dump trucks are not made to drive on lawns or off of obvious roads; lawn damage almost always occurs. Also, they need to be on level firm ground in order to dump without tipping over or sinking into a lawn. Just because a cement truck got to a location does not mean a dump truck can get to the same spot. Always have an alternate dumping spot available. Our drivers are experienced professionals. It is their responsibility to alert you to possible dangers and hazards. It’s also your responsibility to alert them to obstacles, sink holes, septics, and such. Be aware of tree limbs, overhead wires and roof overhangs. During wet weather a dump truck can crack the edge of a driveway. It is our driver’s final decision whether or not they can dump in the desired location. Any instruction by the customer to dump elsewhere (not on the driveway or just off the edge with the tires on the driveway) will be the customer’s responsibility for any damage.

## Black Mulch with BiGro™ Adds “Tidy, Finished Look” to Landscape

We recently received photos from David of his lovely landscape in Virginia. Taking advantage of the balmy springtime weather, David and his wife used 85 bags of Black Mulch with BiGro™ to add a “tidy, finished look” their front entrance and landscaping.

They are anticipating a hot summer, and figure the mulch will help moderate temperatures for the plants, retain moisture and of course suppress weeds! David described the bags as “a clean and convenient option” for this project.

Looks great, and thanks for sharing!

The rich black color provides a nice accent to the landscape.