The cooler air of autumn is upon the Indianapolis area and many homeowners have been seeing landscape trucks transporting loads and loads of mulch. Some property owners choose to mulch in the Fall, some in the Spring, and some prefer a combination of the two. For many, a landscape contractor will perform this service. For others, this is may be one of the last outdoor projects of the year that the homeowner does themselves to tidy up their yards before winter.

Regardless of who applies the mulch or when it is applied, the beauty of many homes and landscaping will once again be enhanced by spreading mulch in landscape beds. Not only does mulch enhance the beauty of a home and landscape, but it also provides many other valuable benefits for shrubs and trees. Mulching around plants, shrubs, trees, and landscape focal points such as sculptures and seating areas, is a great way to reduce landscape maintenance and to keep plants healthy. Live plantings benefit from mulch as it conserves moisture by providing as much as a 25 percent reduction in soil moisture loss from evaporation. Mulch also keeps soil aerated by reducing soil compaction that often results from raindrops hitting the soil–it also works to reduces water runoff along with the accompanying soil erosion.

Although mulch provides all those benefits mentioned above, care must be taken when mulch is applied or it can cause serious problems. Too much can lead to retention of too much moisture which can lead to root rot. Too much mulch can also create a haven for insects and tree or shrub disease. Mulch should be applied and spread so that the result is a total of a two to four inch layer. Mulch piled too high against the trunk of a tree can be detrimental too. The tree trunk and the root crowns should be exposed, and the mulch extended to the edges of the branches where the tree roots search out water and nutrients.

One more caution on the use of mulch. It should never cover the landscape lighting fixtures or their heat vents. All lights, indoor or outdoor, produce heat. An outdoor light that is covered in mulch has no means for the heat to escape. If the heat cannot escape the mulch may start to smolder from the extreme temperature build-up. In doing so, the heat can melt the PVC composite of the light, burn the insulation off the cable and eventually short out the lighting system. In essence, the lighting system will require several new lights, new cable and a repair bill that could have easily been avoided. So, no matter who spreads the mulch or what time of year the work gets done, caution should be used not to cover lighting fixtures or their heat vents.

If a contractor performs this service, they need to be advised that there is a landscape lighting system on the property. Marking all the lights with flags will alert the contractor to the location of each lighting fixture, and to use caution when spreading the mulch.

Professionally installed landscape lighting by NiteLites enhances the overall attractiveness of properties and their landscaping. Well groomed and mulched landscaping beds add tremendous beauty and a sense of order to a property while providing many benefits for its living plantings. Landscape lighting and mulch are a perfect landscape pair when properly used, but, mulch spread carelessly and without caution on and around lights may lead to serious problems for the homeowner.

NiteLites is an industry leader in the low voltage outdoor lighting field. Their world headquarters are located in Franklin, Ohio. The company specializes in the manufacturing, design, installation, and lifetime maintenance of high quality low voltage lighting for both residential and commercial properties. NiteLites not only offers high quality, low voltage, specification grade products, but also partners with high end builders, landscape architects, architects and designers. Their projects include Neighborhood Entryways, Amenity Centers, Marinas, Community Common Areas, Condominium Complexes, Country Clubs, Restaurants, Pool Areas, Municipal Projects, Senior Retirement Centers, Public Facilities, Hotels, Colleges, Retail Businesses, Shopping Malls, Warehouses, Commercial Storage Areas, Parks, Resorts, and Schools.