Forsythia is an indicator plant on the gardening calendar. When Forsythia blooms, it stimulates many gardening activities: pruning, planting cool season flowers, preparing gardens and finally, mulching of established garden beds.
This year, in the Mid Atlantic and other parts of the country, the Forsythia went into a state of suspended animation, the continuation of cold and cloudy weather allowed the Forsythia to bloom for nearly 7 weeks instead of its normal 3 weeks.
You’re not late to jump in now and finish those early spring garden maintenance tasks. It’s Mother Nature’s highlighted message to us humans, “You need more time to Garden, and I gave it to you!”
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.
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)
Convert all dimensions from inches into feet. (3” ÷ 12” = .25 feet)
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)
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).
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!
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:
Get on a path. No really, it’s not just a metaphor.
Mulch is basically a magic carpet for your landscape.
How do you choose the right mulch for your landscape?
Using quality mulch in your garden is one of the easiest ways to transform your landscape. Mulch comes in all shapes and sizes and flavors. When choosing a mulch there are a few factors to consider – species of wood, source, size, and color – to identify a mulch that will best fit your needs. Since the selection process can be tricky we summarized our most popular mulches with the following descriptions.
This mulch has a pleasant cedar smell that lasts a fair amount of time after spreading. Cedar is also great for repelling insects. Cedar mulch has a very slow decay process so it won’t break down quickly. Also, cedar mulch is the most resistant to artillery fungus.
AVAILABLE IN BULK:Canadian Cedar is available at our Harvest New England locations in Connecticut.
AVAILABLE IN BAGS:Cedar Mulch Blend (2-cubic-foot bags) by Garden Pro® is available in stores in New England, the Mid-Atlantic, and Southeast.
BARK MULCHES / COLORED BARK MULCHES
This is a recycled mulch usually made from hardwood logs and bark. These types of mulches break down quickly and add nutrients to the soil. Natural colorants make this mulch stand out.
AVAILABLE IN BAGS: We offer Brown-, Red- and Black- Colored mulch (2- and 3- cubic foot bags) by Nature’s Pride in stores throughout the Mid-Atlantic.
PINE BARK MULCH
This mulch has a naturally rich dark color with a pleasant pine scent. Pine mulch is a slow decomposer and is often over looked. This mulch has great longevity and is relatively inexpensive!
AVAILABLE IN BULK:Pine Blend is one of our most popular mulches, available in New England (Connecticut). Pine Fines are an exceptional soil conditioner for acid-loving plants such as azaleas, hollies and magnolias – available in the Mid-Atlantic (Maryland, DC, Virginia).
AVAILABLE IN BAGS: We offer a variety of Pine- based mulches including Pine Bark Mulch in two-cubic-foot bags in New England, the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast.
This mulch has strong reddish and orange tones which add rich color to landscapes. Hemlock mulch is very aromatic. Just like cedar and pine mulch, hemlock mulches decomposes slowly so it is long lasting. Hemlock has a natural reddish look.
AVAILABLE IN BULK:Hemlock Mulch is available in at our Harvest New England locations.
AVAILABLE IN BAGS:Hemlock Mulch Blend is available in two-cubic-foot bags in New England, the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast.
Where can I find mulch from Harvest?
Great question! In addition to the mulches listed above, we offer a variety of mulch (and soil) products throughout North America. Find a convenient location near you:
How can I support my trees? (Hint: Give them a “tree pedicure!” See video below.)
Editor’s Note: This article was originally posted as “Choosing a Mulch: Practical Beauty” in March 2014; it has been re-posted with permission by the author, Shelley Sales, with updated content, availability, links and video.
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.
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
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!
Have you noticed the increased awareness around the interlocking connections between soil, nature, and wellness? We have. While doctors don’t yet prescribe bags of soil or mulch – take two and call me in the morning! – communities are increasingly recognizing that nature provides boundless benefits. Here are a few examples:
SOIL HAS SURPRISING HEALING PROPERTIES: Healthy soil has lots of micro- and macro-bacteria, and interacting with that dynamic environment develops your own biosphere. Read about how dirt heals us.
GARDENING IS EXERCISE! Bending, scooping, weeding and planting burns 200-400 calories per hour.
NATURE CAN MAKE YOU MORE SUCCESSFUL:
Noticing your surroundings makes you more present, more mindful, and arguably more successful. Take a moment to notice your surroundings and you’ll get better at staying calm and focused.
We had an excellent time at MANTS 2016 (the Mid Atlantic Nursery Trade Show), with Harvest RGI and Harvest Consumer Products connecting with vendors, customers, and landscape lovers of all sorts. Here are a few photos from the dynamic three-day event.
Are you ready to take storm water management on your property to the next level, but not quite sure what to tackle? Here’s a simple idea for how to divert water flowing on your property – in this case your driveway – into a rain garden to slowly absorb the water into the groundwater table (as opposed to into the municipal treatment or storm water system).
The best way to position your mini rain garden properly is to go outside the next time it rains and see where your water is flowing. We found this article super helpful in describing how to identify the best spot for a rain garden. Good job on taking steps to manage stormwater on your property!
Recently Harvest RGI – our operations that serve the mid-atlantic region including Baltimore / Washington / Maryland / Northern Virginia corridor – was accepted to the Maryland Green Registry. By meeting a set of criteria we have joined an elite set of businesses that meet standards for the following categories:
Environmentally Preferable Products and Services
Efficient Business Travel
Stormwater Management and Site Design
Congrats!! Interested in supporting a sustainable business while meeting your needs for green waste recycling or mulches, compost and soil blend products? Contact Harvest RGI in Woodbine MD today.