Does it seem that bark mulch is now thought of as a landscape feature by itself? It does to me. Bark mulch application wasn’t always used and abused in these ways: yearly applications, whether needed by the plants or not; over-application around trees; dyed mulches; mulch made from ground-up hardwood pallets – much of the so-called “bark” mulch has very little bark in the mix.
Think about the use as groundcovers as “living mulch” as well as for the changing beauty of ground-clinging plants. Most well-selected groundcovers provide similar benefits as non-living mulch materials: erosion-control, moisture retention, weed suppression, moderation of soil temperatures and of course the aesthetic component. And perennial groundcovers don’t need annual renewal -they get better with age! Good soil preparation and adequate water during the first year of establishment is essential for success with groundcovers as with any other planting.
Here are a few examples of groundcovers used in our designs: