Getting Old Mulch to Break Down Faster

When tending your garden remember to freshen up your mulch from time to time. Mulch lasts for some time but there are times when you want the old mulch to break down faster, especially when you plan to apply new mulch.

Over time the rain, sun and wind will break down your old mulch. This will cause the mulch to lose its color and its look. It’s a good idea to get the old mulch to break down faster before you add new mulch, which will give your garden a fresh look.

Why Break Down Old Mulch

Non-aged mulches can cause nitrogen deficiencies in many trees, flowers and shrubs. Decomposing fungi and bacteria that break down old mulch needs a supply of nitrogen to get the job done. Landscaping mulches consisting of wood has little nitrogen available and the bacteria use the existing nitrogen to break down the mulch, which causes nitrogen deficiencies and yellow leaves.

As mulches break down, it beneficially contributes to soil structure. If you want your mulch to break down quickly, opt for fine mulches over those made of course materials and water it often. Placing a black plastic bag over pieces of the mulch will also help to break down, as it will reserve water and attract extra warmth, which will speed up the break-down process.