Why You Should Apply Fall Mulch

Fall Mulch

Why You Should Apply Fall Mulch

The Benefits to Applying Mulch in the Fall

Some realtors recommend that homeowners should spend between 5 and 10% of their home’s value on landscaping. It can instantly boost your home’s curb appeal, whether you’re planning to sell or not. 

That said, even 5% of your home’s value can amount to thousands of dollars. After spending that kind of money, it can feel disheartening when your plants don’t make it. 

Luckily, applying fall mulch can help protect your landscape and garden through the winter and save you the trouble of buying new plants in the spring. Read on to learn why mulching should be on your fall landscaping to-do list. 

Insulates the Ground from Temperature Changes

In the winter months, the ground freezes and thaws several times throughout the winter. These extreme temperature changes are very hard on your plants. 

Mulch acts as a barrier and blanket for your flower beds by keeping the temperature at a moderate level and avoiding extreme temperatures. 

Keeps Weeds at Bay

You might think weeds are only a problem in the spring and summer, but fall is actually a crucial time for weed prevention. Applying fall mulch while doing gardening can prevent many weeds from sprouting when the seasons change. 

As soon as the weather heats up in the spring, your plants will start to grow rather than the weeds.  

Fall MulchPrevents the Loss of Topsoil

During blustery winter storms, bare topsoil can get carried off in the wind. You might not notice it’s happening until you see how shallow your flower beds look in the spring. 

Soil erosion can be an expensive problem to fix as you’ll need to buy new topsoil. Plus, it can harm your plants.

Applying mulch in the fall will keep this valuable dirt from blowing away. It weighs down the dirt and holds it close to your plants and shrubs.  

Helps Retain Moisture

Spreading mulch in the fall also helps lock moisture into the soil. A thick layer of mulch helps insulate the dirt, not only from the cold but also from the dry air of winter. 

Think of your skin in the winter. You probably apply moisturizer to protect your skin’s barrier from getting dry. Mulch behaves in the same way. 

After fall mulching, you’ll have soil that’s moister and easier to work within the spring.  

Provides Nutrients to the Soil

Natural mulches like premium hardwood, cypress, cedar, and compost slowly break down over time. And when they decompose, it can release nutrients back into the soil. 

As the weather heats up in the spring, mulch will create more fertile soil. Plus, the warmth created by the mulch also helps microorganisms thrive. That also creates a healthier home for plants. 

Don’t Delay, Apply Fall Mulch Today

Fall mulch is an important step in any landscaping maintenance routine. It insulates the soil from cold weather, adds nutrients, and keeps weeds away. 

Whether you’re mulching your vegetable garden or your flower beds, McCarty Mulch and Stone can help. We offer a selection of premium mulches as well as home delivery to the Indianapolis area. 

Check out our mulch selection today and get it delivered as early as tomorrow. 

Fall Soil Preparation

7 Pro Tips for Fall Soil Preparation You Should Know About

Start Preparing Your Soil for Fall

The advent of autumn marks the end of the growing season in most places. But even as the leaves begin to turn and snaps of cold come on the breeze, a gardener’s work is far from finished.

Now is the time not only to close out the prior growing season but to prepare for the next one. And soil preparation is a major consideration.

Think of all the work that awaits you come next spring. Lawn chores, weed clearing, and bare-root planting would be enough work on their own. But with the soil still cold and compacted, it can turn into a real mess.

Preparing your soil for fall can not only reduce the amount of work waiting for you but help ensure your planting success next year.

To get started, here are five key tips for fall soil preparation.

1. Clear Out the Remnants of Your Summer Garden

First things first, we’re going to want to wind down our summer gardening activities. If we leave old plant debris to sit, it gives pests and diseases a place to ride out the winter. Cleaning up is essential.

Depending on the health of the old plants, you can toss them on the compost pile to get that started (more on composting later). But if you suspect that they might already be affected by diseases, it’s better not to chance it and instead have them removed from your property altogether.

2. Plant Your Fall Crops

Just because the winter months will be here before we know it doesn’t mean we can’t grow a few basic veggies in the meantime. A lot of cool-season crops like broccoli, spinach, and lettuce can handle colder temperatures than you might realize. In fact, depending on who you ask, some may even taste better after a light frost or two.

The ideal time to plant these crops varies by region, be sure to refer to your plant hardiness zone before committing to planting. But generally, the tail-end of summer to early fall is a good time for these cold-weather crops. Once cold weather sets in, floating row covers can provide those young seedlings with a few degrees of extra warmth and frost protection.

3. Start Building Next Year’s Soil

Okay, with our summer leftovers cleared out and our autumn planting done, we can focus on building our soil for the next season.

A good first step is figuring out what type of soil you’re working with. Not all soil is created equal, and your needs may vary depending on what your gardening goals are. And if the soil you have to work with isn’t quite to your needs, you may have to make additional amendments to it.

For general purpose gardening, loamy soil is often the best choice. Made from a roughly equal mix of sand, silt, and clay, it feels finely textured and a little damp to the touch and should crumble in your hand.

It’s often ideal because it both drains well and retains moisture, so you rarely have to worry about it drying out in the sun or turning into muck with heavy rains.

If this isn’t the type of soil on your property, there are amendments that you can get to help strike that golden mean.

Fall Soil Preparation4. Plan For What You’ll Plant Next Year

To a great extent, the kind of soil that you build will depend on what your planting plans for the following season are. Not only can different plants favor different soil types, but many are sensitive to different pH levels or need certain nutrients in the soil.

A pH level of 6.0 to 7.0 is ideal for most garden vegetables, though you’ll want to double-check as some plants will thrive in more acidic or alkaline environments. Tomatoes are a good example, preferring slightly acidic soil.

There are a few ways to influence the pH level of your soil. The simplest is to add amendments to either raise or lower the pH as needed. Raising the pH, or making it more alkaline, usually involves adding commercially prepared limestone products. Lowering the pH and making it more acidic usually involves adding aluminum sulfate or sulfur, both of which can be found at most garden centers.

Alternatively, certain elements added to your compost can affect the pH, as we’ll see in the next section.

5. Start the Next Season’s Compost

Composting is a great activity to not only reduce household waste but give a boon to your garden as well. Plants of all kinds need organic matter in their soil to thrive. And starting a compost heap in the fall will give it plenty of time to break down for the fall.

The leftover plant material from your summer garden is a great starting point, as are fall leaves, straw, and grass clippings. Green kitchen scraps can be added to the compost throughout the fall and winter to add extra nutrients.

And depending on what you add, you can help push the pH of your compost in one direction or another. Adding acidic elements like coffee grounds will have the expected effect, lowering the pH and making it more suitable for acid-loving plants. On the other end, wood ash is one of the best elements you can add to raise the pH if that’s what’s needed.

6. Add Compost

McCarty Mulch & Stone Inc. produces a beautiful dark brown compost product for your garden beds, or add your own from the backyard compost pile. You can also visit your local livestock producer, where they sometimes have piles of hay and animal bedding sitting in piles around the farm. Compost adds nutrients to your garden and is high in organic matter helping to provide substance and texture to your soil. Applying a layer of compost to your garden and letting it blanket the soil over winter makes a great insulating blanket for your garden during the colder months. Make sure that whether spring or fall, that the compost is tilled into the soil before spring planting.

7. Till the Earth

Tilling your fall soil is key to preventing the soil from compacting, ensuring enough drainage, and allowing oxygen and your soil amendments down into the soil.

For the best results, spread your amendments over the soil before tilling to really work them into the earth. And if your climate allows, planting a cover crop like rye, barley, or clover in the fall is a great idea. It will help prevent weeds from taking root, and come spring it can be mowed and tilled into the soil as a ready supply of fresh organic material.

Soil Preparation for a Fruitful Planting Season

Working the soil in fall weather may not seem productive on its face. Particularly not if you live in a region prone to harsh freezes.

But soil preparation is a year-round task. An ounce of work now makes for a pound of progress come the next season, no matter what time of year it is.

To ensure that you’re always making the most out of each stretch of the calendar, you should familiarize yourself with the basics of building soil. For the basic techniques that will serve you well year-round, check out our soil preparation guide.

Late Summer Landscaping

6 Essential Late Summer Landscaping Tips

How to Maintain Late Summer Landscaping

Is your lawn prepared for the heat of the summer? As the late summer approaches, you’ll need to take great care of your landscape. Intense heat and strong rays from the sun can place your grass and garden areas under stress. 

Late summer landscaping is the ideal time to start paying attention to your lawn and all its components more closely. You’ll also want to prepare it for the colder months to come. Your lawn has a few more weeks left of summer and during those weeks, there are a few summer landscaping tips that you should keep in mind.

In the guide below, there are several landscaping tasks that you should complete before the summer’s over. Continue reading to get started!

1. Start Mulching 

If you have flowerbeds as a part of your landscaping, then you’ll want to start mulching. Simply add a layer of fresh mulch into your flower beds to boost water retention. The mulch will hold moisture to prevent dehydration during the hottest months of the year. 

Mulch will also help prevent weeds from growing around your flowers and will maintain soil temperatures throughout the entire year. There are also many different types of mulch to choose from. Take the time to find a mulch that compliments your landscaping.

You don’t need a thick layer of mulch. A layer that’s half an inch in thickness will be good enough for your flower beds and will instantly boost your curb appeal!

2. Remove Weeds

If you don’t currently have mulch in your flowerbeds, then you might already be experiencing weed growth. Weeds can also sprout up around other areas of your landscaping as well. While preparing your landscape, it’s important to start removing any weeds you might find. 

It’s common for weeds to sprout up during spring and summer. Typically weed seed is deposited in flower beds by wind, birds and animals or lawn mowers. Adding too thin of a layer of mulch can actually promote those weeds to germinate in your flower beds. It’s important to catch the weeds and remove them as fast as possible to prevent them from spreading. If weeds aren’t removed, then they’ll most likely stay in your landscape for the entire year. 

When you do spot a weed or two, be sure to use your hands and uproot it. Uprooting the entire weed will remove it from your lawn. If you mow over the weed or only cut the top of it off, it’ll quickly grow back. 

Pulling the weeds out by hand can also bring better results than using chemicals. Take the time to walk through your lawn three days a week and pull any weeds you see. 

Late Summer Landscaping3. Fertilize Grass

Another important summer landscaping tip to help you prepare for fall landscaping is to fertilize. Grass can sometimes enter a dormant state during late summer. Because of this, your grass will need extra attention during the fall and winter months.

In some situations, fertilizer can improve the condition of your grass and give it the boost it needs before fall and winter come. The type of fertilizer you use on your lawn is something you want to consider. The condition of your grass and your location are a few factors that affect the type of fertilizer that’s needed. 

Here locally we recommend Endure lawn fertilizer Summer Application: 24-0-3 that contains 40% UMAXX, Regain® stabilized nitrogen • 1% Iron plus micronutrients, 25% Ammonium Sulfate, up to 12 weeks of greenup. Or an 18-0-3 with insect and grub control. 100% Regain® stabilized nitrogen, season long preventive & curative grub and surface insect control, including ticks • 0.2% Imidacloprid, .04% Lambda Cyhalot

You can speak with your local nursery about the best fertilizer to use on your lawn for your lawn’s specific needs.

4. Water Often

Late summer calls for high heat. Now, more than ever, you’ll want to water your landscape regularly. Make sure to water all aspects of your landscape including the gardens, flowerbeds, lawn, and any outdoor plants you may have. 

The best time to water your landscape is during the early morning or late evening. There are a few reasons for this. In the early morning, your landscape has time to absorb the water before the sun rises, gets to its highest point, and dries up the water. 

Watering in the afternoon could prevent your landscape from getting all of the water it needs because the sun will dry the water quickly. Watering at night can cause any excess water to sit on your landscape for several hours, which may promote the growth of bacterial diseases and fungus. 

5. Mow Higher

Now is also the best time to check the height of your lawnmower and make the appropriate adjustments. For late summer, it’s ideal to raise the blade on the lawnmower about one inch. During this time, if you cut the grass too short, then it can cause a negative reaction. 

Ultimately it can cause stress on your landscape and even create brown patches in the lawn. Raising the blade by one inch will promote healthy grass growth even throughout fall. 

6. Conduct Inspections

Another important aspect to keep in mind during the late summer is the possibility of pests and disease. While inspecting your landscape for weeds, you can also inspect it for pests and signs of disease. White powder on plants could be a sign of a fungus. 

White cotton-like growth could indicate a pest. Although pests and diseases can both be treated, it’s important to catch them in the early stages. 

This Is Late Summer Landscaping Done Right

As the end of summer is near, it’s time to start discovering some of the best late summer landscaping tips. When you’re feeling stuck and unsure how to properly care for your entire landscape during the end of summer, be sure to revisit this guide, and don’t forget your mulch!

At McCarty Mulch and Stone, we produce and manufacture the highest-quality materials to ensure your landscape is both beautiful and healthy. We offer a wide range of mulch, stone, soils, pine straw, and more! Shop today to see how we can improve your landscape today.

3 Ways Mulching Will Help Your Garden This Summer

3 Ways Mulching Will Help Your Garden This Summer

Make Mulching this Summer a Priority

Once upon a time, homeowners around the country devoted their time and energy to unbroken lawns. Now, more homeowners are realizing that lawns use more water and create less biodiversity than beautiful, rewarding gardens.

If you’re experimenting with seasonal gardening, growing a flower garden, or cultivating a vegetable patch, you’re probably wondering how to enhance your efforts. If you haven’t already heard, mulching can provide unbeatable benefits that will keep your garden happy and healthy!

Why is mulching such a boon to gardens of any variety or size? We’re glad you asked! As always, it’s our goal to provide you with answers to all of your mulching questions.

Peruse our high-quality mulch and bulk mulch options and keep reading for three ways that mulching will help your garden this summer.

1. Make Your Water Usage Go the Extra Mile

One of the reasons that your lawn requires so much water is that grass and soil aren’t your best options for water retention. When the temperatures rise and daily sunlight increases, you lose a lot of water to evaporation. Plus, without any protective barriers, you may find yourself facing a large amount of water runoff.

Mulch creates a barrier between the elements and your soil. It keeps the heat out, which comes with the added bonus of protecting roots from overheating, and keeps the water in.

In fact, one study found that while gardens that don’t have mulch lose about 80% of rainwater to evaporation, mulched gardens only lose about 10% of rainwater to evaporation. That means that you can rely more on rain and break out the waterhose less often!

2. Reduce Erosion and Unwanted Growth While Increasing Root Protection

Adding a layer of mulch to your garden can offer it unparalleled protection. We mentioned water runoff earlier, so let’s start by getting back to water runoff and how it can affect your garden.

Water runoff occurs when water is not absorbed into the ground but instead, pools and moves on the surface. This, in turn, can cause your soil to erode, making a mess out of your garden and exposing vulnerable roots. Mulch helps your garden to absorb water and discourages runoff, which lowers your chances of dealing with erosion.

Mulch also makes the perfect garden topper because while it doesn’t harm growth, it also does not sustain growth. That means that new weeds won’t start popping up in your garden. Plus, weak weeds that took root before mulching will often struggle to break through that layer of mulch and eventually suffocate.

Plus, mulch doesn’t just protect your garden when it’s in full swing. Mulch provides a layer of insulation against the cold winter temperatures, preventing your soil from becoming frozen and compacted. This protects the root systems of your perennials, increasing their ability to come back next spring.

3. Boost Your Soil Health

There are a few ways that using organic mulch (ie wood chips, straw, or grass clippings) can improve the health of your soil.

For starters, mulch gives your layer of compost a fighting chance. Once again, this goes back to stopping water runoff! Laying compost is a great way to breathe life back into your soil, and mulch will make sure that your compost breaks down over the summer, rather than getting washed away.

In addition, organic mulch will start to break down over time, too. In fact, once you start mulching, it isn’t recommended that you remove old layers of mulch to lay new ones. Those older layers become a crucial part of your soil system, and removing them can break up soil and damage root systems.

Instead, it’s best to let old layers of mulch break down. During this process, your soil will become enriched with those nutrients! In turn, this will help to discourage your soil from becoming compact and create more space for your root systems to flourish.

Bonus Perk: Mulching Makes Your Garden Look Great

It may not come as a surprise that we’re enthusiastic about mulch. After all, with all of these great benefits, it’s hard to deny that mulch is a great tool that will easily enhance your garden!

On top of all those practical reasons comes a bonus perk: mulching makes your garden look absolutely incredible. Our mulches come in a variety of materials and colors to ensure that you find the perfect match for your garden. In fact, we use natural colorants to dye our mulches so that you can pick from brown, dark brown, black, red, and even golden!

Mulching your garden creates an even, finished look in your yard. Topping off your soil with one single, bold color also allows all those colorful plants (even the fruits and veggies) to truly pop! At the end of the day, mulching gives your yard a professional look that will have your neighbors convinced that you pay top-dollar for landscaping services.

Want Mulch Delivered to Your Door? We’re Here to Help!

We hope that after reading about the benefits of mulching, you’re as much of a mulching enthusiast as we are! Now, it’s time to start shopping for the perfect mulch for your gardening and landscaping needs.

We’re here to provide the highest-quality mulch for all Central Indiana homes and businesses. All you have to do is select the mulch that fits your needs and give us our delivery instructions. We’ll handle the rest!

Looking for more landscaping solutions? Shop our full mulch collection for everything from bulk soils to landscaping rock and driveway stone.

5 Ways to Use Mulch to Beat the Summer Heat

5 Ways to Use Mulch to Beat the Summer Heat

Beat the Summer Heat with Mulch

According to the Farmers’ Almanac, summer for 2021 will have above-normal hot temperatures for two-thirds of the country.

With the summer heat expected to be extreme this year, your garden will require extra protection. You’ve spent hours upon hours doing back-breaking work to get your garden planted. No one wants to see all their hard work go to waste because of hot temperatures. Watching your beautiful flowers wilt and your vegetables shrivel under the scorching sun can be frustrating.

Mulch is a great way to help protect all of your efforts. Adding mulch to a yard brings with it many great benefits. Instead of your garden dying off because of the summer heat, your mulched garden will continue to flourish.

Are you curious about all the advantages that mulch has to offer? Then keep reading! This article will delve into five main reasons you should add mulch as part of your lawn care!

1. Mulch Retains Moisture in the Soil

When the summer heat ramps up, you’ll have to worry about more than just a sunburn. The summer sun can end up baking the soil. All moisture will evaporate from the soil. The soil then becomes hot and dry around the roots of a plant. Once this happens, your plants will suffer.

A large part of garden maintenance includes ensuring your plants remain healthy through the hottest part of summer. By adding mulch, you can help prevent evaporation.

Mulch not only acts as a fertilizer as it breaks down, but it can also shield the soil from the sun. Mulching can give you a significant reduction in soil moisture loss.

When applying mulch, you should try to add about three to four inches. This will help ensure that moisture retention remains high.

2. Mulch Reduces Water Run-Off

When the summer heat is at its peak, sometimes a thunderstorm can feel like a blessing. Your garden has been wilting from both the heat and lack of water, and now a thunderstorm is here to give relief. 

However, all that intense heat can leave your soil as hard as concrete. If the soil is dried out and compacted, water will be unable to soak through to the plant’s roots. If you’ve ever noticed large amounts of water pooling on top of the surface of the ground and draining away, you may be suffering from this very problem.

Mulching can help with this problem. By adding mulch to your garden, you will help reduce how much water run-off occurs when it rains or even when you water your garden. In the long term, the use of mulch will also help reduce the overall amount of water that your garden requires.

Mulch is able to retain moisture and prevent the summer heat from leaching water from the soil. This means that the soil itself will remain moist for longer periods of time. So, the next time it rains or you water your garden, the soil will be more porous and able to absorb the water with ease.

3. Mulch Regulates Soil Temperature

Have you ever kept a plant well-watered and even shaded it from the intense afternoon sun, only to have it still die? This could be due to the soil’s temperature. As the sun shines on the ground day in and day out, it raises the soil temperature. Even if you keep a particular part of your garden shaded, the soil temperature can still be high from the surrounding areas.

Mulching acts as an insulator. It helps to keep your soil cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter. With the soil being cooler, it helps protect the roots of plants from drying out or going into heat shock. Another benefit of well-regulated soil temperature is it helps encourage better growth of plants.

4. Mulch Prevents Soil from Becoming Compacted

As previously mentioned, your soil can become compacted over time. Causes of soil compaction are it being dry from the summer heat and rain beating down on it. 

When your soil is too compacted, it’s unable to absorb water. This means that water will sit on the surface of the ground and then drain away or evaporate. If water can’t absorb through the top layer of compacted soil, then the roots of your plants will remain thirsty. In the end, this will lead to your plants dying.

Another downside to the soil being too compacted is that it will stifle plant growth. This is all the more true for young plants that are not yet mature. While plants are growing, their roots need to be able to spread. A healthy root system allows them to absorb more water and be rooted into the ground well. 

If the soil is too compacted, roots will be unable to penetrate the hard soil. This can lead to a plant becoming root-bound and suffocating. Mulch will help keep the soil of your garden moist, which in turn prevents it from becoming too hard.

5. Mulch Protects Soil Microorganisms

There are many beneficial microorganisms that dwell in the soil of your garden. Like with most things, extreme heat can kill these organisms. If your garden lacks beneficial microorganisms, this can lead to the development of harmful bacteria and fungal infections. Applying mulch to your garden will keep the soil temperature regulated, which in turn helps protect microorganisms from the summer heat. 

Even other creatures like earthworms will benefit from the mulch. Mulch helps to attract earthworms, as they are drawn to the nutrients it adds into the soil and the cooler temperatures. If the soil is cool and stays moist, earthworms will begin to favor your garden. Your plants will then benefit from the increased population of earthworms and soil microorganisms.

Mulch Your Garden to Keep It Healthy

Are you ready to have a healthy garden and add mulch to your landscape? Then McCarty Mulch & Stone can help! We offer only the highest quality of mulch around. We manufacture and process our own mulch. By controlling the process from start to end, we are able to ensure that you get premium mulch you can trust.

Contact us today if you have any questions!


grass with landscaping of flowers and trees

Late Winter and Early Spring Landscaping Tips

Although winter seems to linger long in the Midwest, spring often blossoms abruptly. Are you ready to perform your late winter and early spring landscaping chores? Getting your landscape ready for the growing season may involve a wide range of tasks from cleaning up debris to dividing perennials. To achieve a beautiful healthy landscape, keep the following garden prep work in mind.


Clean It Up

Winter weather typically leaves behind a mess of downed branches and twigs. In late February or early March, it’s a good time to assess your landscape, removing any debris you find. Clean out your containers and window boxes to ready them for the season ahead. If your perennials still contain stalks from the previous growing season, remove them to make way for new growth. This is also the time to remove any stray leaves and pinecones from your lawn and flower beds.


Prune Trees and Shrubs (Carefully)

Early spring is a good time to prune your fruit trees and berry shrubs. However, many tree experts recommend that landscapers avoid pruning their spring-flowering trees. On the other hand, if you note that these trees have winterkill on branches or dead wood, you can carefully remove the affected limbs. Avoid removing healthy limbs or you’ll see less flowering later in spring.


Transplant Perennials, Trees, and Shrubs

Early spring is a great time to transplant perennials or small trees and shrubs to other areas of your landscape. Perennials such as daylilies can become overcrowded. Divide them so that they have more room to grow and thrive. While you can divide most perennials in spring, some are better left alone until Fall such as irises, foxglove, lavender, and peonies. You can also move young trees and shrubs to better locations in your landscape at this time, providing that the ground is soft enough for replanting.


Apply Pre-Emergent Weed Deterrents

Although some gardeners prefer to wait until weeds emerge to treat them, others swear by pre-emergent weed treatments. Although mulch and landscape fabric can help protect your flower beds from weed invasions, herbicides are typically the solution for lawns. Early spring is the ideal time to spray for crabgrass and other weeds that infiltrate lawns. Not sure when to apply the herbicides? A good rule of thumb is to wait until you see the first lilacs around town beginning to bloom.


Mulch and Hardscaping

In early spring, you’ll want to replace old, decaying mulch with brand new mulch in your flower beds or around trees and shrubs. As mentioned, mulch helps prevent weeds growth and keeps your landscape looking neat. Also, inspect your garden paths, sidewalks, and other hardscape features as salt and rough winter weather can do damage. Spring is the ideal time to make these repairs. It’s also a good time to shop for decorative stone or other hardscape materials for your late spring projects like new patio additions or decorative flower bed borders.

McCarty Mulch & Stone features a wide selection of mulch, topsoil, and stone for landscaping and gardening needs. Purchase these materials in bulk or in smaller quantities for your upcoming spring landscape chores. McCarty Mulch & Stone offers wholesale pricing for landscapers and delivery service for our Central Indiana customers.

Dark mulch with plants in front of house

Should I Mulch, Use Stone or River Rock Around My House?

Did you know that our ancestors are a great source of landscaping solutions? 

In the history of farming and gardening, over the last several thousand years, your ancestors found a use for rock and stone. They placed it around their gardens to minimize weed growth, and to keep rodents and small animals away from their gardens. Their innovation would later become one of the most popular ways to decorate–and optimize–landscapes everywhere.

Have you been debating using mulch, stone, or river rock for your property? You’ve come to the right place. We’ve put together a quick guide to help you settle mulch vs rock.

Continue reading to determine whether you should use mulch or stone in your project.

What Are the Benefits and Disadvantages of Mulch?

If you’re planting or remodeling a garden or decorative landscape, mulch is a great contender. With its easy installation and minimal upkeep, mulch keeps nutrients in your soil and hides imperfections.

Hardwood, dyed mulch, and color-enhanced mulch are also wonderful for harsh winters, keeping your plants warm and safe through cold weather. 

Mulch is a common addition to landscaping projects to add something extra and to tie everything together. Available in natural bulk and color enhanced options, mulch is a great organic option to finish your project with.

Mulch is the byproduct of trees such as cedar, pine, and oak, mulch offers nutritional value to your soil and to your plants. 

By spreading mulch throughout your area, you’ll reduce erosion, conserve water, regulate plant temperature, and prevent weeds from poking through. 

Unfortunately, mulch does not last more than a few years at a time. Even though its natural decay is good for your soil, mulch will lose its color due to sun exposure. It will also suffer through rain and wind, causing you to have to completely replace your mulch periodically.

The Benefits and Disadvantages of River Rocks

River rock is a great solution for a low-maintenance, quality appearance. Since it is durable and long-lasting, river rock doesn’t need to be replaced. It serves as a great decorative aspect to your project and will stand the test of time and weather.

When considering river rock, take into account where you’re placing them. These suit areas around buildings, swimming pools, and fire pits.

Due to their heavy-duty qualities, river rock and stone are long-lasting solutions and require some upkeep to maintain their shine.

These rocks are fireproof, which is great for areas that are prone to heat and wildfires. River rock and stone can also prevent soil erosion, ensuring that your land is safe from fungi and rot.

However, river rocks don’t keep weeds at bay. You’ll have to manually remove weeds and other pesky plants growing underneath your river rocks or use a manufactured weed barrier or weed stopper. 

Choosing What Works for Your Landscape

Depending on where you live and what purpose you’re considering mulch, stone, and river rock for, these factors will play into how you proceed.

Still wondering “Should I use mulch, stone, or river rocks?” We have experts on our team who are here to help you decide whether river rocks, stones, or mulch is the right landscape spread for you. 

Interested in solutions for your yard? If so, contact us today.

spring landscaping

5 Essential Tips on How to Prepare Your Home for Spring Landscaping

Are you looking forward to a beautiful spring filled with flowers and a lush lawn? Then you may want to start preparing now rather than later. Spring landscaping for your home will strengthen your home’s curb appeal if you’re looking to sell, or it can encourage you to spend more time entertaining outdoors.

No matter your reason, here are our top five recommendations to prepare your yard for spring landscaping the right way!

1. Start Cleaning Your Lawn

It’s normal to ignore your lawn during the winter when plants are dormant. However, if you start cleaning it bit by bit today, you won’t have as daunting a task ahead of you once the snow finally thaws.

Periodically cleaning debris during the winter can also help you get a head start with mulch. Natural debris such as leaves, twigs, and more can be recycled into mulch to help your plants grow in spring.

2. Do Your Research

It’s important to prepare for spring landscaping now, especially if you believe you’ll be making extensive changes. For instance, if you’re hiring a landscaper, they’ll have an easier time taking a look at your yard while it’s still winter. This is because they’ll have an unobstructed view of the landscape.

One of the main benefits of spring landscaping ahead of time is that you’re ensuring the plants you want are in stock. You’ll be able to order plants from nurseries during the off-season, ensuring that they’ll be available for you right on time.

3. Choose Your Mulch

Once you have some idea of the layout of your landscaping as well as the plants and shrubs you’ll use, the next best step is to choose your mulch. Mulch comes in a variety of colors, allowing you to match the current aesthetic of your home or take the landscaping in another direction. There is also mulch in different textures and sizes available for areas like walking paths or dog runs.

4. Seek Inspiration

If you’re finding it hard to prepare ahead of time, remember that you have a variety of resources available to you. You can find spring landscaping ideas online or even seek advice from neighbors who you’ve seen have many spring yards. You can also seek the help of landscaping companies that can give you an idea of the latest trends in your local area.

5. Remember Maintenance

Last but not least, you’ll need to remember that maintaining your spring landscaping will be easy or hard depending on the plants you choose. Consider your daily schedule during the spring and keep in mind how many hours you’re able to devote each week to maintain it. You can also see if it’s within your budget to hire a company to take care of the landscaping maintenance for you.

Spring Landscaping the Smart Way

Preparing for spring landscaping will make it easier for you going forward once the snow begins to thaw. You’ll have a clear idea of the plants you want to purchase, the layout of your yard, and the mulch you want to purchase. Even better, you’ll be creating a lawn that’s easy for you to maintain.

Ready to begin your search for quality mulch? Take a look at our offerings today!


snow on pine tree

How to Protect Your Trees and Shrubs This Winter

Unlike humans, trees and shrubs can’t take off and add layers depending on the temperature. Luckily, they have you.

There are certain things you can do before harsh winter temperatures come, and even during the cold snaps, to care for your trees and shrubs so they don’t succumb to the winter blues.

Make sure you’re taking precautionary steps before the cold arrives. Read on to find out how you can protect your trees and shrubs this winter.

Prune Trees

Not only does pruning trees keep you and your neighbors safe in winter storms, but it also helps their root systems.

If your area is prone to wet winter seasons (this also applies to wet summer months), the ground around them can become soggy and the roots can lift.

This should be considered for trees of any age, but especially large ones with vast root systems. It’s rare, but sometimes the ground simply can’t handle the root systems, causing the tree to fall over.

Any unnecessary weight off the tree can help.

Add Mulch and Soil

Mulch, soil, rocks, and finished compost can also help protect your trees and shrubs through the winter.

Adding mulch adds a layer of protection that is going to get absorbed into the soil, but still works to warm the soil and keep it from freezing. It can also help absorb excess moisture.

Adding soil or finished compost enriches the soil around your trees and shrubs, working to prepare them for new growth in the spring.

Landscape rock is a more permanent top layer to place around plants. It won’t get absorbed into the soil, but it will provide an extra layer of warmth and insulation while remaining safe for the environment.

Know When to Water

Did you know that water acts as a sort of insulator? Watering before a freeze is, therefore, key to any plant’s survival.

Moist soil stays warmer than dry, so watering early in the morning on dry days before snow or rain comes is best. Focus on the roots when you’re watering, though.

Commercial growers and farmers will sometimes freeze the foliage on their crops, but it takes a constant stream and very specific circumstances.

Also, take into account that your trees and shrubs most likely won’t need to be watered as much during the winter.

Provide Support

Providing temporary rope, twine, or cable supports around your trees — especially the younger ones — can help them stay standing during the winter.

Support your shrubs by building a-frames in order to keep heavy snow and ice off the plants. This works especially well with shrubs near the house.

Protect Your Trees and Shrubs With These Tips

The winter can be a harsh time for your trees and shrubs, but it doesn’t have to kill them. Utilizing these tips and tricks can make the difference between a lively period of growth in the spring and you planting new trees and shrubs.

Luckily, McCarty Mulch & Stone is here to help! If you have any questions, feel free to contact us today.

mulch and stone

Spring Landscaping Ideas with Mulch and Stone

Mulch and stone are a winning combination for Spring landscaping.

Mulch most likely comes to mind when you think of making your garden look pristine and pleasing to the eye.

Using it to cover the soil of your flowerbeds or to fill up empty space in your yard are classic ideas, but there are so many creative and original options in landscaping that will make the outside of any home look professionally designed.

Mulch isn’t the only great looking material you can add to your yard; stone adds a touch of sophistication when paired alongside it. The best thing about stone is that there are so many textures, colors, and shapes. Pebbles, river rocks, flagstones, and boulders accent mulch of all types especially when you’re able to find a unique way to beautify your yard with them. One of the hardest parts of landscaping is creating an amazing and personal style for your house, taking your gardening skills to the next level, and making your neighbors jealous. We’re here to make all of that a lot easier.


If you prefer to keep your stone use minimal, perhaps adding a path of pebbles through a larger mulch patch would assist in guiding the eyes (and feet) to the most pleasing parts of your landscaping. A simple detail like this gives the area character and even a sense of organization in your design. If your backyard is more elaborate, mostly covered in vegetation, or densely wooded, additional paths would nicely accentuate the ground between the densest areas.

If the maintenance of pebbles seems much too exhausting, slabs of stone lay nicely on flat land, and they arrange into simple yet delightful patterns. There are endless colors and cuts to choose from that complement the traits of your space.

Maybe you would rather stick to walking on grass, but you still notice plain, empty areas between your flowerbeds. An easy idea for giving any green path a bit of a facelift is to line the edges with river rocks or any stone with a consistent color. Decorating this way will give your eyes a breath of fresh air, for it is the simplicity in this design that reduces any attention towards the rough edges.


If you have a large strip of garden that lays around the outside perimeter of your house or sidewalk, you have a great opportunity to give these areas a bit more style. Close the gap between the grass and mulch with an even border of stone. Slabs or bricks work brilliantly and even help to keep the mulch from spilling out all over your lawn. If your driveway or walkway is lined with plants or mulch, bordering those sections is a good idea as well.

Stone Types

Don’t be overwhelmed by the choices that lay before you, the first thought that may run through your head is, “There are so many kinds of stone to work with, what will work best for my situation?” Worry not, we have compiled a list of common stone used in landscaping and simple garden decoration.


Pea gravel or crushed gravel refers to tiny, smooth pebbles of varying color that are appealing to the eyes of both minimalists and lovers of extravagant yard displays. Gravel is possibly the most versatile rock out there and is certainly worth the small amount of upkeep involved. It can also be used as an alternative to wood mulch as it doesn’t retain heat like larger stone and therefore will not overheat your plants due to its small size.


These wide, flat rocks make beautiful pathways because they are the perfect stepping stones. If you come across an abundance of them, you could create a whole patio just out of flagstone. They can cover a great amount of ground space in large numbers and make an even surface for outdoor furniture and garden-loving guests.

River Rock

River Rocks are very smooth, round stones that are mined close to river beds here in Indiana. They are usually dark and shiny in appearance and are seen as quite classy and refreshing when placed around garden areas. They are ideal for mulch replacement when that is sought. As river rock is affordable and long-lasting.

Lava Rock

Think this is just a clever name? Guess again, the lava rocks most commonly sought after in the dry climate of the Southwest are mined from volcanic lava domes. It is generally reddish or brown and has a very coarse texture, so don’t lay it down anywhere you expect people to be walking around barefoot. Gardens covered in this beautiful, intriguing stone are very easy to maintain because they minimize the need for watering.


The use of boulders as “anchor points” or “eye catchers” in landscaping is highly effective. Is there a bland, empty section of your yard that you have yet to adorn? Putting down a boulder or two and planting various tall-growing flowers around them will maximize the sense of style with minimal effort involved in the planning or labor. Boulders truly make amazing focal points in larger, open gardens and can be decorated nicely with less thought than any other natural art piece.

As far as mulch goes, there’s no end to the options in sight. From dyed wood mulch to natural mulch, cypress, cedar, and pine you should choose what looks and functions best according to your land, vegetation, and home. If you want to use landscaping stone and mulch together, make sure you plan based on ideal combinations of texture and color. Take everything into consideration, but most importantly, have fun and be creative. Landscaping is a fantastic way of expressing yourself or your home in a fashion that everyone can see. Be original in your designs or draw inspiration from experts online or in catalogs.

There isn’t a better way to impress guests than showing them around a professional-quality backyard full of life. Even if you’re doing it just for yourself, you’ll always be able to gaze outside and know that your efforts paid off this Spring.

front of house landscape

Four Ways to Prepare Your Garden for the Winter

Your annuals are nearing the end of their lifespan and are starting to feel the cold grasp of the first frosts. After all your hard efforts in the spring and maintenance throughout the summer, it’s tempting to put away your tools and let nature take its course. After all that hard work, it’s time to relax, right? What more is there to do now that fall is here?

The answer greatly depends on how smooth you want everything to be next spring. A little effort now could save you a lot more work in the long run. If you want to reduce the amount of work facing you next spring, consider the following suggestions to prepare your garden for winter’s rest.

Soil testing and cultivation

If you read our earlier blog post about soil, You’ll know how to test your soil for soil type and pH levels. Now is a great time to retest your soil since you’ve had a full growing season to see what amendments may be needed for next year. Understanding the effect your plants have had on the soil will give you great insight into the best ways to prepare your soil. Pay the most attention to pH levels as they are more likely to change than soil type from year to year due to the plants and fertilizer you chose.

Wait to cultivate!

One of the main reasons soil feels loose and crumbly toward the end of the year is because it is saturated with summer’s growth of fungal hyphae and mycelium which will slowly decompose through winter, along with any roots from your flowers, veggies, and weeds. Digging up and turning the bed now without a good reason (such as preparing for an early spring salad garden) would ruin nature’s own efforts to build the soil for you. In fall it is more beneficial to mulch over beds without cultivating. Save it for the spring! It is, however, both acceptable and recommended (as needed) to disturb the soil to dig out those nasty perennial weeds.


For many of us, mulch is as standard in our gardens as the plants themselves since covering the ground with it is one of the easiest ways we can beautify, protect and enrich the health of our plants. The reasons we mulch, and the type of mulch we use, however, changes with the seasons. We use mulch in the spring to feed and warm the soil, retain moisture in the soil, and to suppress weeds. We mulch in the autumn, in preparation for winter, for different reasons, though it does help suppress the hardy weeds that brave the cold. In areas where the temperature drops below freezing, any soil that is left exposed to the weather will be subject to the fluctuation in temperature that occurs mostly at the beginning and end of winter. These temperature changes cause movement in the soil that can heave out shallow rooted plants and expose delicate root systems to damaging freezes.

As strange as it may sound, the main reason for winter mulch is to protect the soil from the sun’s warmth. This is to keep the ground frozen and keep your plants in a state of dormancy. If there were a brief warm spell, it could trigger new growth which would only die again when the temperature drops.

If your garden is on a slope, mulching for the winter also prevents erosion and compaction of the exposed soil from heavy rains.

For proper insulation, build a layer two to four inches of mulch. For fall/winter mulching, you will want a course, textured mulch that will allow enough air and water to flow through while still being able to insulate effectively. Wood mulch is the best choice since it serves as a food source for beneficial micro-organisms and earthworms and can be cultivated into the ground once spring rolls around. For best results, apply over a layer of compost.

The best time to apply mulch depends on what type of plants are grown in your garden. Annual beds should be mulched in the fall before the first frost. For perennial beds it is better to wait until after the first “killing” frost, but before the coldest temperatures set in. A “killing” frost is typically when the temperatures fall below 28 degrees Fahrenheit. Mulching a perennial bed too early can cause stress to the plant, weakening it and making it more vulnerable to the frost coming in the near future.

Be sure to leave a one to two-inch buffer between the mulch and the plant to prevent stress, six to twelve inches from the bases of trees, and three to four inches for shrubs.

Sheet composting

Also known as sheet mulching is a technique that has been used for generations which involves introducing layers of organic material to the soil surface only. All the compost you’ve been collecting over the summer is likely finished and ready to be used and your garden which will be sitting empty until the spring could benefit from a thick surface layer under a cover of winter mulch. By the spring, the compost will be actively decomposing and releasing nutrients into the soil.

Clean up rotting and finished plants

Besides looking unkempt, dead or dying plants can harbor funguses, disease, and pests. Add them to your compost pile for next year. Because many plant-eating insects lay eggs on your plants, removing them from your garden can prevent those insects from getting a head-start next spring.

Now is also a great time to remove invasive weeds that may have taken hold over the growing season.

Follow as many of these suggestions as it applies to your garden and your soil and plants will love you in the spring!


Backyard Pond

3 Easier Alternatives to a Backyard Pond

Your yard needs water. Of course, if you have grass and plants, requires a nice sprinkling on a regular basis. But you also could enhance your home by using water as an aesthetic. According to HGTV, ponds, fountains and other water features are still popular among homeowners.

While a pond can be a lovely addition to your backyard, it can also be a lot of work. Aside from the labor involved to create the pond, it requires ongoing maintenance. Problems that may develop include algae accumulation, a leaking pond liner, and predators or parasites killing fish.

If you want a water feature without the hassle of installing and maintaining a pond, the following ideas may be good alternative.

Make a bubbler fountain

Bubbler fountains that gently move water through a small pump are easy to make. You can make a bubbler fountain out of boulders, pots or anything else that can hold water. They use only the water within the fountain, so they don’t require in-ground reservoirs.

McCarty Mulch sells inexpensive bubbler pumps, which you can use to turn a large stone pot or bowl into your fountain. We can also custom drill a boulder for you here at our location or you can choose from many of our pre-drilled boulders. Another option would be to drill a hole in the bottom of a container or pot for the electrical cord, but you don’t have to hard-wire electricity to the fountain – pumps plug into an outdoor outlet, and you can hide the cord under mulch, or in vegetation. Once the pump is in the pot, place it on a bed of decorative rock and add water to the pot, and your fountain is finished.

Create a water wall

Making a water wall is a bigger project that requires the use of a table saw and compound miter saw. If you have the tools and the time, a water wall is a nice way to add some visual interest to a patio.

A basic water wall is made of a trough that, with a surrounding frame, supports panels that water runs down. Some people use tempered glass to make water walls, but you could also use galvanized steel or any material that can tolerate water.

Put a pond in a barrel

Using a pot or barrel, you can make a smaller, freestanding version of a pond and still enjoy the perks of having fish and water plants. To ward off mosquitoes, you would need a pond pump, which adds a lot of expense to an otherwise inexpensive project. If you don’t want to buy a pump, put mosquito dunks in the water.

Add some large rocks or decorative rocks to the pot to serve as underwater plant stands (the rocks elevate plants, so they are at least partly above the water line). Add goldfish a few days after you add water, because tap water contains additives that may harm fish, but those additives evaporate after time.