Gravity is quite something, isn’t it? And if even we can’t stand still on a slope for long, what chance does mulch have to keep in place?
In case your property is on a slope—or perhaps it’s just your garden—you’re likely struggling to make your mulch stay put and not topple or roll over.
And that’s where I, your trusty friend Ben, come in!
Let me guide you through 5 effective ways to eliminate this pesky hassle once and for all.
1 – Make Use of Mulch That Stays Better
Any garden owner should know that not all mulch types are created equal. Some can hold their ground more than others; and it’s those that you want to use in your yard.
So, in staying clear of mulch that blows away, let’s see what mulch stay better on an angle:
You can use wood chips successfully when you’re on a slope, but you have to be mindful of the weight. Naturally, heavier wood chips and wood nuggets are going to do better than lighter ones.
Shredded bark is a highly common choice when people are looking for nice mulch.
They wind up working out well too! Because the shredded bark pieces get all tangled up with each other.
This makes them hold down a lot more efficiently and you won’t likely have to worry about losing too much mulch – unless you have quite a pronounced slope.
Pine straw can work out fine even if you wouldn’t think that it would be ideal at first glance.
It works because the pine needles wind up getting stuck together and they just kind of stay where you put them—just like shredded bark.
My take? Pine straw might be the best overall mulch to use because of how well it stays down.
2 – Don’t Use Plastic Underneath Your Mulch
Millions of people utilize landscaping plastic or fabric underneath their mulch; and I don’t blame them. Doing this has its advantages, like suppressing weed growth, but it isn’t good at all when your garden area is on a slope.
Why? Because it creates a slick surface that’ll make it easier for mulch to fall out of the bed.
What to Use Instead of Landscaping Plastic
It would be better to utilize a strategy that involves using multiple layers of mulch.
You can get the same results that you would from a plastic barrier if you try to do this. Just lay down a layer of mulch and then water it before laying down another layer. Very simple.
And hey – a lot of you are probably thinking that it’s a pain to remove a plastic barrier from underneath the mulch – but it might be necessary.
Many of your problems with losing mulch on a slope are likely directly related to the plastic.
3 – Invest in Netting and Landscaping Pins
Have you heard of landscape netting before? Well, time to get familiar with it!
When gardening on a slope, landscaping pins and netting can be highly helpful in keeping everything in place.
This technique keeps your mulch from moving out from the bed because the net is pinned to the earth – not allowing the mulch to escape.
The landscaping pins (like this 200 pack) act as anchors to hold the netting or biodegradable blankets down. You can still have water come in just fine and your plants will be getting what they need.
Rest-assured that this method will work out nicely for you! It’s also pretty easy to pull off and doesn’t require much work.
That said, I only recommend this measure if your slope is particularly problematic.
Most people will use either a traditional netting or some type of biodegradable blanket to hold the mulch in. Either would work.
Why You Shouldn’t Consider Netting
Netting gets the job done – but it’s not perfect. The one downside is: it doesn’t look super appealing.
A lot of us care about the overall look of our gardens; and covering plants with blankets or netting will ruin things a bit. But, if you don’t have any other option, then you’ll just have to sacrifice curb appeal.
4 – Consider Landscape Edging Instead
Another great alternative to landscape netting is landscape edging. And it doesn’t pose the same aesthetic problem either!
Here’s what to remember, though: buy landscape edging that’s high enough to keep all of your mulch where it needs to be on the slope.
Good news, too. You should be able to find plenty of different styles of landscape edging to purchase either locally or even online (like this 100′ edging kit).
You can also choose one that matches well with the vibe of your garden – or the one you’re trying to create. Once you find the perfect choice, it’s just going to need to be installed properly.
How to Install Landscaping Edging
Installing landscaping edging is generally very simple and it involves either placing it in the right spot or embedding it in the ground slightly. Some people even use plants to create landscape edge barriers that’ll hold in mulch.
5 – Making a Trench
Another intriguing idea that you can try out is to create a type of trench to keep your mulch from going too far.
How to Dig a Trench
Making a trench is simple enough. You just need to dig out a little barrier around your gardens and it doesn’t have to go too deep. See for yourself:
- Dig around four inches deep and go all around your flower bed or garden.
- Once you have dug the trench out, it should be able to catch any of your washed-out mulch.
- You can then place the mulch back where it needs to go and it should prevent you from losing any.
Hint: this is a solid idea that you can use in lieu of buying some type of landscape edging.
Additionally, raking your mulch back into your bed will always be easy now that you have done this.
If you want to make maintenance a simple task as well, then consider this option. It doesn’t require you to purchase anything and it’s a reliable solution to your slope issues.
How to Keep Mulch on Steep Slopes?
Steep slopes can be a fair bit trickier to deal with than a normal type of slope – but luckily, not impossible to handle. And I have just the methods to help:
1 – Split Yard into Sections
When you’re trying to keep mulch in place on a steep slope, you’re probably going to have to use terraced sections. This prevents things from going too far and it allows you to make flat sections that’ll keep your dirt where it’s supposed to be.
2 – Build Structures
You could also build structures to hold your gardens on a slope and ensure that they’re secured well to the house or whatever else is nearby.
For instance, someone could make a garden on a steep slope by setting the space in some type of wooden structure that’s meant to hold the dirt.
Mulch and slopes don’t always get along – so it’s understandable to have more questions.
What is the maximum slope for mulch?
The rule of thumb is; the ratio of slope steepness to mulch should be 1.5:1.
Using mulch on slopes any steeper than this would be a waste of time as the mulch won’t be able to do its job anymore. It’d also be harder to uniformly apply the mulch on such a slope.
How do I keep my dirt from sliding downhill?
Plants with strong root systems can keep your soil and dirt from sliding downhill. Creating natural barriers, such as tree trunks and rocks, should help too – while also adding to your yard’s curb appeal.
How do you landscape a slope?
This will depend on how inclined your slope is. Slightly steep slopes won’t require more than a few deeply rooted plants and shrubs to anchor them in the ground.
Steeper slopes might need more extreme measures, though. That can include building robust walls or terracing the land. These solutions can also help prevent soil erosion.
Here’s to defeating gravity! All it takes is a little know-how and you can easily keep your mulch in place – no matter how steep that slope is.
With the options I’ve given you, you’re sure to find one that’ll work best for you and your garden; it will take some trial and error, though, but I believe in you. You should be able to admire your handiwork and just take it easy soon enough.
Ben has a bachelor’s degree in construction engineering. When not constructing or remodeling X-Ray Rooms, Cardiovascular Labs, and Pharmacies, you can find him at home with wife and two daughters. Outside of family, He loves grilling and barbequing on his Big Green Egg and Blackstone Griddle, as well as working on projects around the house.
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