Mulch Mountain


THERE’S A NEW TOPOGRAPHICAL FEATURE on my Springs, L.I., property that isn’t making me happy. It’s a hill made of mulch — 5 cubic yards of it. That’s a lot. It sits in my driveway, waiting to be deployed as a weed suppressor, giving off a slight barnyard scent. And the thing of it is: I didn’t even want the stuff.


In bloom this week: astilbes — a good crop, since Deer-Out

It was wood chips I asked for. I wanted a rustic look among the shrubs in front. I didn’t envision this fancy Hamptons-looking black mulch. But Dong, my garden helper, did. “Everybody want this,” he kept saying. “Better for weeds.” And so he showed up with a dump-truck full, bought just for me.



We often have communication problems. I don’t speak Dong’s language, Vietnamese, and his English is… just this side of unintelligible. We do all right face-to-face, with gestures, but static-y cell phones add to the problem. Then there’s his reluctance to admit he doesn’t understand.


Evening primroses starting up; they’ve spread since last year

I do like him, though. He’s knowledgeable about gardening, hard-working, and fairly reliable.


Seed heads of alliums, which I like almost as much as last month’s flowers

And there he was with a truckload of mulch. What was I going to do? Ask him to take it back, like an undercooked burger? I’ve never been that assertive with workmen. Men of any kind, really. Or hairdressers, of any gender. So I said, OK, go ahead, dump it <sigh>.



It took me two hours of shoveling last night to get perhaps one-fifth — no, that’s too rosy an assessment — one-eighth of the way through the pile. I’m determined that all day tomorrow will be devoted to mulch-spreading.


Foxgloves! Well, one foxglove

Oh well, not a tragedy. Other aspects of being in the country this week are making me happy, including the many more things in bloom than last year (thanks partly to Deer-Out) and a general sense that my garden is under control — as long as I don’t let down my guard.


Houseplants on holiday

About cara

I blog (for fun) here at casaCARA, and write (for money) about architecture, interiors, gardens and travel for many national magazines and websites.
This entry was posted in COTTAGE LIVING, GARDENS & GARDENING, HAMPTONS, LANDSCAPING, LONG ISLAND and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Mulch Mountain

  1. Joe says:

    Lookin’ good! Landscapers like that type of mulch because it’s so finely shredded that it’s like dirt and next year you’ll want to buy more! But think of it this way: it’s a good way to amend and lighten your soil, and it’s easier to scoop it up and spread than the chunkier bark type. It will look great when you’ve got it all spread!

  2. Patti Hinkle says:

    A landscape pro told me that wood chips make the plants yellow. It seems when it rots it takes nitrogen away from the plants–and weeds, too. So–Dong could be right on this one.
    And if it stinks, it must be good for the plants. I feel your pain with the spreading. Last year I had a free truck load of wood chips delivered to my driveway. We used it to make a path. It required many many Advil. Your plants are super.

  3. cara says:

    hi Patti, that may be (about wood chips stealing nitrogen), but I wasn’t planning to use it in the flower beds, just as a ground covering between shrubs in a woodsy area — similar to what you did with your path, from the sound of it. And Joe, I find the mulch heavier and more difficult to handle than the wood chips, especially when it’s wet. Anyway, it’s here and I’m using it!

Got something to say? Please say it!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s