Mounds of Mulch and Soil
Did you know that many Arizona-native plants thrive in existing soils? However, keep in mind that Valley soils can include fast-draining sandy soils or clay soils with poor drainage that may benefit from added nutrients or organics. The Maricopa Cooperative Extension or a Valley landscape professional can help you decide what works best for your soils.
If you are planning a lawn, adding organic soil amendments will increase moisture retention and reduce your yard's water needs. Top-dressing planting beds with at least two inches of mulch protects plants, cuts down on weeds, and reduces evaporation. This translates into significant time and money savings.
Loosening hard-packed Valley soils can help your grass thrive. When adding organic soil amendments or compost, you will want to hand-till or power-till about three yards of compost per 1,000 square feet to a minimum depth of four inches. Tilling is easiest when soils are slightly moist. If you are confused about whether or not to add soil amendments, consult a landscape professional or nursery expert.
Organic and inorganic mulches are readily available in the Valley. Examples include organic wood mulches and decorative landscape rock mulches (decomposed granite, river rock, and other crushed rock). A wide selection of choices is available through nurseries, garden centers, and home improvement stores. Though coverage varies, you'll need about one yard of organic mulch per 1,000 square feet or one ton of inorganic mulch per 800 to 1,200 square feet.
If you choose to install a weed barrier beneath your mulch, install breathable fabric that allows water to percolate deep into soils below. Impervious plastic sheeting is not recommended.
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