Plan the shape of your beds and then edge them to 2” – 3” depth so the mulch can flow in and have a nice stop point. Remove any old crusted over mulch and weeds from established beds. Nip long ends from plants and bushes. Aerate the soil by stirring it up or turning it over. Now decide what kind of mulch you would like based on the size, color, and texture you prefer. You can choose from Hardwood, Root, Pine, Colored, or Stone Mulch. Wood mulch should be composted for a period of 3 to 6 months at the minimum. A dark brown to black color is usually a good sign of it being well composted. Put your mulch down 3” – 4” deep for the first application and 2” – 3” for top dressing established beds. A total of at least 3” is needed for week control. Remember, plants and trees breathe right at the base of the stems or trunks so don’t pack or pile mulch so deep or tightly as to suffocate your plants. Let them breath. Mulch in a pile is composting, so it might be hot. Turn the outside edges of the pile with your shovel or pitchfork slightly before loading it in your wheelbarrow. Cool it down by wetting it after applying it. This will also remove any dust form plant leaves and help in settling finer mulches so wind and rain don’t carry it away. The mulch is now helping to keep weeds away and retaining moisture. Every 2 – 3 weeks, stir your mulch. Using a 3 or 4 prong hoe makes this easy. This will keep your mulch from crusting up which lessens the rain or water that gets through. This also keeps weed seeds and any fungus from taking hold. Stirring helps to retain color. Re-edge using a square shovel or a weed wacker to keep that sharp cared for look. Mulch with a little care and thought truly is the key to low maintenance landscaping.