How To Keep Mulch From Washing Away

How To Keep Mulch From Washing Away

Adding mulch to your yard is a great way to ensure that your plants keep their nutrients locked in and that the ground stays warm. Of course, that’s only guaranteed if the mulch you spread doesn’t wash away. If you’re living in a flood zone, you might have experienced the annoyance of having much float away during a major storm. So, how can you prevent it from happening again? Good question…

Install a brick, plastic, or stone barrier around your mulch so that it does not wash away. Try to add bricks or stones to your barrier if a bout of rain or a severe flood is on its way to preserve the mulch. Put plants such as hostas and other perimeter plants around the mulch so it doesn’t wash away.

Mother Nature is not exactly known for being too interested in keeping our landscaping intact, but that doesn’t mean you can’t keep your mulch in place. Ready to get your mulch locked in place? Keep reading, buddy.

Don't want to do it yourself?
Get free, zero-commitment quotes from pro contractors near you.


How Can I Keep My Mulch From Washing Away?

This is a loaded question, since there are several methods that can help lock your mulch in place. These include:

  • Raking Mulch High. Using a rake to pile mulch levels high close to the edges of your flowerbed will help reduce the chances of water running down plants. This, in turn, means you’ll have less to worry about water pushing mulch downhill.
  • Choosing The Right Mulch. This is something that we can get into a little later in the article, but it’s safe to say that having a “grippy” mulch type matters.
  • Digging Trenches. This method is known as “trench edging” among landscaping crews, and it’s a great way to prevent mulch from being washed away. In some cases, it can also help improve thirsty plants’ ability to get the water they need.
  • Add A Border. Many avid gardeners create a border that blocks mulch from floodwaters. Borders can be made using plastic fences, stones, bricks, or even things like pine needles.
  • Avoiding Landscape Fabric. Those plastic-y sheets might help your garden look better during dry days, but their slippery surface basically turns your flower beds into a waterslide.
  • Add Perimeter Plants. As the name suggests, these are plants that help keep your mulch in place. They are planted on the perimeter of your flower bed.

What Kind Of Mulch Is Best For Flood-Prone Areas?

If you want to avoid having your mulch wash away, the most important thing you can do is invest in the right mulch. Not all mulches are equal. If you want to avoid having runoff, three main types of mulches are going to be your go-tos:

  • Small/Fine Mulch. Believe it or not, ultra-fine mulch doesn’t wash away very easily. It acts more like soil than mulch.
  • Heavy Wood Chips. No, not pine. Heavier wood mulches that are “chipped” or in bark nugget form can nourish the soil and also stay in place.
  • Pine Straw. The shredded texture keeps this mulch in place, and it smells so good.
  • Shredded Wood Mulch. Though it’s lighter than wood chips, shredded wood mulch provides a lot of heating and nutrition while being grippy enough to stay put.
  • Compost. This ultra-fine mulch is insanely nourishing, which makes it a perfect pick for almost any type of garden.

What Kind Of Perimeter Plants Work Best?

Perimeter plants are small border plants that add a touch of color or style to your garden’s perimeter while adding a physical barrier between the mulch and other parts of your garden. This can range from small shrubs to flowers like creeping thyme, to hostas. The idea here is that you shouldn’t go for super tiny plants, but should work on getting something nice.

What Kind Of Barriers Work Well For Keeping Mulch In Place?

This is a relatively easy question to answer. Just go to the nearest Home Depot, and you’ll see a ton of options. Some of the more common ones include:

  • Bricks. Just stacking bricks three inches high should be enough to keep mulch in place. Many home improvement stores sell longer bricks specifically for the purpose of being a barrier to mulch.
  • Plastic Barriers. You know those little five-inch tall plastic fences people occasionally use? They’re great for keeping mulch in. They come in a bunch of different styles, including a solid plastic sheet as well as mini fencing. Choose on that works well for you.
  • Stone Barriers. You can make your own little barrier using medium-sized rocks, or by stacking smaller stones on top of one another. If you want to go for a more rustic look, stack shale pieces on top of one another. If you want it to be a little sturdy, you can use cement or mortar to “glue” the barrier together.

What Can Be Done If A Major Flood Is Headed My Way?

Let’s say that you’ve done everything possible to keep mulch in place, but you see a flash flood warning light up your phone. Or, maybe you live in a flood plain and you realize you’re probably going to have to deal with flooding sooner rather than later. If you have a major flood, the only thing you can really do to prevent it is to get a taller barrier.

Though most washaways can be prevented, the truth is that large-scale floods mean that you can’t exactly prevent all the mulch from washing away. Heck, there’s a good chance that you might not even be able to prevent water from entering your home! Knowing this, it’s a smart idea to prepare your bank account to get tapped for a new bag (or three) of mulch.

Don't want to do it yourself?
Get free, zero-commitment quotes from pro contractors near you.


Related Questions

What is mulch used for?

Mulch is used to keep the ground warm, lock in fertilizer, and protect the ground from soil leaching that can be caused due to winter weather. It’s a lot like a blanket for your soil.

Can I put mulch over weeds?

If you want to get rid of weeds, you can try to put a somewhat heavy layer of mulch over them. This will prevent sunlight from hitting the weeds and stunt their growth. Eventually, prolonged use of mulch on top of weeds will cause them to die out. To do this properly, clear the ground of visible weeds, add four inches of coarse mulch, then top it with two inches of fine mulch.

Does mulch attract bugs?

This depends on the type of mulch that you get, but there is a major caveat homeowners should be aware of. Wood mulch can potentially act as an invitation for termites. This is because termites love to eat wood. If you place wood mulch too close to your home, it’s possible that termites could see your house as their next meal.

What mulch is best for repelling bugs?

If you want to repel bugs, the best option for you would be red cypress mulch. The scent of the cypress gained fame for being able to keep bugs (especially mosquitos) away from your home. You can also use cedar chips if you are currently struggling with moths or spiders. Both types of bugs detest the smell of cedar.

Ossiana Tepfenhart

Ossiana Tepfenhart is an expert writer, focusing on interior design and general home tips. Writing is her life, and it's what she does best. Her interests include art and real estate investments.

Recently Published