Placing top dressing on a finished landscape bed may sound like an easy final step, but with any process there is room for improvement. Here are some tips from contractors on how to best avoid mulch mayhem.
Training the team.
A well-trained mulching crew begins with the right lead man or supervisor, says Chris Chupp, operations manager at Perimeter Landscape Management, which has four offices in Georgia and South Carolina. Most of his clients have pine straw bedding and a few use hardwood mulch.
“You have to be able to convey to (the crew supervisor) exactly what you want done and where you want it done,” he says. Chupp says his training approach is hands-on and includes up to one hour of demonstration and practice before new team members begin work on the job site. Once new employees make that transition, crew leaders continually monitor the work and provide feedback.
At Russell Landscape, which has offices in Georgia and Tennessee, Executive Vice President Hugh Cooper says his company primarily uses pine straw, which is readily available in the Georgia and Florida markets, followed by hardwood mulch, cypress mulch and pine bark mulch.
“The basics of applying mulch, moving it into a place and spreading over the bed is pretty simple,” Cooper says. “First, we do a visual training. We clearly define all safety initiatives and then we do not allow deviation from it.”
The visual training, which may be watching a video or an experienced crew in person, is followed by hands-on practice. New employees practice applying mulch alongside an experienced crew.
Cooper adds that his mulching crews are typically cross-trained to do other work within the company.
It's important to train employees on the company's quality control standards for product, Chupp says. Sometimes when unloading product, there will be a section of mulch that is uneven in color or deemed “bad product.”